Comets overcome loss of QB, shut down Cavs

Published 4:45 am Saturday, November 22, 2014


LAPLACE — It looked like a nightmare scenario for St. Charles Catholic: senior quarterback Austin Weber was sidelined early in its playoff matchup with visiting De La Salle after a hit by Cavaliers linebacker Cody Fonseca.

As the Comets often do though, they found a way. And as it often is, that way was defense-driven.

SCC shut out De La Salle and generated the offense it needed in order to grind out a 24-0 victory and advance to the Division II semifinals.

There, the Comets will find a familiar foe: Parkview Baptist, the same school SCC faced in its last state semifinal appearance en route to winning the Class 3A state championship. This time, however, Parkview will host.

The Comets (10-2) sacked DLS quarterback Victor Gaines and backup Julian Gums seven times, with Trenton Matus and Jonathan Scarpero each coming up with 3.5 quarterback takedowns. Matus also added a fumble recovery.

“Our defense played really, really well,” St. Charles coach Frank Monica said. “They were lights out, and that was huge tonight given the circumstances.  Patrick (Ratliff) came in, (and) he knows the offense. Once we saw how well our defense was playing, we felt there was no reason to take a lot of chances.”

Justin Loupe led SCC in rushing with 21 carries for 81 yards and a touchdown. Erron Lewis ran 14 times for 69 yards and a score.

“We asked our backs to chew up some first downs,” Monica said. “They were able to make some nice runs and give us what we needed.”

Backup quarterback Patrick Ratliff commanded the offense in Weber’s stead, completing 3 of 6 passes for 65 yards with one interception.

The first meeting between the teams at De La Salle (8-4) in district play produced a Comets win on a late Weber-to-Brady Becker touchdown pass.

This time, no such theatrics were needed. After an Andrew Rodrigue field goal pushed SCC ahead 3-0, Loupe’s 24-yard touchdown run gave SCC a little breathing room.

SCC scored just before halftime in unusual fashion: Ratliff threw a screen to Dane Authement who fumbled at the 1-yard line. Comets lineman Ricky Gaubert recovered the ball in the endzone to secure a touchdown — and SCC earned a 17-0 lead.

That score held into the fourth quarter, when Erron Lewis capped things off with a 43-yard touchdown dash.

“The touchdown before halftime was huge for us,” Monica said. “We capped it off with a big run in the fourth quarter … I’m very, very proud of our effort tonight.”

Monica said he felt his players may not have realized how strong an opponent De La Salle was before the first meeting, given SCC’s two lopsided wins over the Cavs in 2013.

But this time, the Comets knew to heed Monica’s warning.

“That program is going to be a real factor in the next few years,” Monica said. “I knew if we didn’t play well tonight, they’d beat us. Hat’s off to them. We came up with a hard-fought win tonight.”