Private schools start season against tough programs

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, September 2, 2015

LAPLACE — St. John the Baptist Parish’s private schools will be punching up this week, taking on tough competition against much larger opponents with a legacy of winning.

SCC at Thibodaux

The St. Charles Catholic Comets will travel to take on the Thibodaux Tigers 7 p.m. Friday in Thibodaux.

Thibodaux posted a 10-2 record last year and made it to the second round of the 5A playoffs. While the team has lost a number of starters since last year, Comets head coach Frank Monica said the Tigers will be tough.

“Thibodaux is exactly what you would expect in a 5A opponent — big lineman and real good skill,” Monica said. “They are playing in one of those real tough districts. They play in the bayou district with Hahnville and Destrehan and they have been a playoff contender for a number of years, so they are not going to be in awe of little SCC.”

The Comets themselves have a long tradition of fielding excellent teams. Last year the team went 9-3, losing in the semifinal round of the playoffs.

In fact, Monica said it has been tough for the Comets to schedule non-district teams their own size, which is why they are playing against Thibodaux.

Monica said the sheer size of Thibodaux’s players is impressive.

“They have a 240-pound linebacker that is bigger than the linemen that I have,” Monica said. “We don’t match up well there. They have one defensive tackle who is 310 pounds and the other is 290 pounds, and we are going to be lining up with a guy who is 185 pounds on one side and 195 pounds on the other side across the street from them. So that is not going to be a very good matchup either.”

SCC had a successful jamboree, winning 9-6 over St. Thomas Aquinas, but in order to beat Thibodaux Monica said the Comets will have to make some big plays.

“We are going have to go out there and play really well and out-execute them because they are not going to give you anything,” Monica said. “That is the thing that is important and hopefully that is a thing that we are going to have to get a few turnovers here. We are going to have to force the issue.”

Monica said SCC’s coaches have been identifying plays they think will work against Thibodaux’s defense and will hone them prior to Friday’s game.

“We’ve got our hands full and we’ve just got to find a way to move the ball and take care of it and try to do those little things,” Monica said. “We’d just be happy to make a first down and hold onto the ball and be sound.”

Riverside at John Ehret

Riverside Academy will face off against one of the better teams in the state in John Ehret to start the season 7 p.m. Friday at West Jefferson Stadium in Harvey.

Riverside head coach Bill Stubbs said the Patriots are going to be hard to handle.

“They are as advertised,” Stubbs said. “They are big, strong, physical and fast. They have a lot of tools. They are going to be a contender for the 5A state championship. For the first game out of the block it is going to be a heck of a challenge for us.”

John Ehret is coming off a 9-2 season in which it fell to East St. John in the first round of the playoffs.

The Patriots are returning a big player in senior quarterback Caron Baham, a University of Missouri commit.

Baham is not Riverside’s only worry for Riverside’s defense.

Last week in a jamboree against Archishop Shaw four John Ehret running backs combined for 361 yards rushing.

On defense the Pariots are also stacked with outside linebacker Michael Divinity leading the group. Divinity has been recruited several top tier college football teams.

“(Divinity) is a big draw in the state at linebacker but don’t put your focus on him,” Stubbs said. “They’ve got other guys. They are loaded across the board.”

If facing tough competition were not enough, the Rebels may have to do so without starting quarterback Jared Butler, who sat out last week’s jamboree with a sore elbow.

“We don’t know yet, (Butler) is still nursing his elbow,” Stubbs said. “That has been on hold. We’ll see as he progresses this week.”

Should Butler not be able to play, senior wide receiver Herb McGee will take his place. McGee ran for a touchdown and threw for another in Riverside’s jamboree win over Mandeville.

The John Ehret matchup is just one of several high caliber teams the Rebels have scheduled for the beginning of the season.

Stubbs said by exposing his players to top-level competition he feels they will be better prepared to take on their 2A district rivals.

“These next few weeks are going to be a really great test of where we are at and will pay dividends,” Stubbs said.