Comets, Cavaliers to do battle again

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, November 18, 2014


LAPLACE — There are advantages and disadvantages for a coaching staff preparing for a postseason rematch against a team it faced once already during the regular season.

But St. Charles Catholic coach Frank Monica, whose team will host No. 6 seeded De La Salle this Friday night in a regional round Division II playoff game, says few teams would have been a tougher draw.

The Comets defeated De La Salle Oct. 17 in district play, 28-21, on a late Austin Weber to Brady Becker touchdown pass.

“I don’t like that it’s a rematch, and especially with them,” Monica said. “They’re a team on the rise. They’re going to be one of the best teams in the city over the next couple years.

“We escaped last time. I thought they outhit us in the trenches.

“The one positive is this time, it’ll be a home game for us.”

It’s a similar scenario to last season,  when the Comets hosted the Cavaliers in a round one rematch, winning both games comfortably: 30-2, then 56-13.

But St. Charles (8-2) found a much stouter challenge against De La Salle this season. SCC had to face the Cavaliers one week after the Comets lost a close battle with John Curtis, and De La Salle came ready to pull an upset. SCC saw a heavy dose of Cavs’ tailback Cole Lewis, who rushed the ball 27 times for 147 yards and three touchdowns.

“What makes him really good is he’s a downhill runner,” Monica said.

“He’s very hard to take down. We’ll have to always have a few guys around him, because one guy isn’t enough. And if you tackle him high, he’ll take you for a ride.”

Of the three losses De La Salle (8-3) has this season, all have come to high playoff seeds. Curtis, St. Charles and St. Michael’s have a combined 25-3 record.

Last week, the Cavaliers defeated Vandebilt Catholic in the bi-district round, 34-21, to secure De La Salle’s first playoff victory in 45 years. The Cavaliers had been eliminated in the first round in each of the prior three seasons, including their loss to SCC last season.

De La Salle generated 504 yards of offense, including 311 on the ground. Quarterback Victor Gaines completed 6 of 12 passes for 193 yards for the Cavaliers. Lewis rushed 30 times for 142 yards and three touchdowns. Gaines’ favorite receiver was Chris Booker, who caught four passes for 133 yards and two touchdowns.

Monica said his team must also be mindful of backup running back Jabian White, who gained 107 yards on just six carries.

“He’s real quick,” Monica said. “You can’t relax at all with him in there.”

Weber had a big night in the first matchup this season, rushing for 93 yards and a score and passing for 87 and the game-winner to Becker, who caught five passes for 83 yards.  The Comets struck on special teams as well, Eric Lewis’ 53-yard punt return for a touchdown giving SCC a needed-lift.

The Comets come off a bye week, which Monica said the team used to focus on stabilizing its fundamentals.

“We say it’s more about St. Charles Catholic than it is our opponent,” Monica said. “We didn’t know who we were going to be playing until after their game was through.”

The winner this Friday will advance to the Division II semifinals.

“This, honestly, is the caliber of a semifinal or final matchup,” Monica said. “They’re that good. We have to find a way to slow their run game.”