Young Comets Shining Under Monica

Published 12:05 am Wednesday, October 12, 2016

LAPLACE — To hear St. Charles Catholic coach Frank Monica tell it, this year’s Comets football squad was going to be a disaster.

Young, small, inexperienced, Monica, now in his 15th year at the school, was practically pulling his hair out and even joked he was going to have to go pick up his players at the nearby daycare center.

That was in August.

So how did those green little Comets get to be a pretty good football team that has the blue and gold fans cheering over their 5-1 record midway through October?

“Character,” Monica said. “I know this football team has character. They are fun to coach. ”

There’s certainly nothing fancy about this team.

There is no 1,000-yard strong-arm passer, no swift 1,000 rusher, no sterling wide receiver making SportsCenter-worthy catches.

Rather, Monica has used a simple, no-frills plan that features a game-controlling offense and solid defense to get his team to the mid-way point with only one loss — a wish-we-could-do-that-over-again 14-10 loss to Vandebilt Catholic in a rainstorm in Houma. Except for that night, Monica’s plan has worked well.

It certainly worked well Friday night in a district-opening 38-0 victory over winless Sophie B. Wright. With few frills, St. Charles finished with 200 yards off offense, one 30-yard touchdown pass, a couple  of short-yardage touchdown runs by running backs Joseph Chiarella, Phillip Tran and Donald Fluker, and a 38-yard field goal by Andrew Rodrigue.

Without flash, quarterback Lloyd Nash has gotten the job done with his speed and skills.

A quick sprinter who rarely throws Nash completed one pass against the Warriors, but did catch the 30-yard touchdown from backup quarterback Robbie Gilbert. He was 2 of 5.

All that offense was set up, however, by a swarming, get-to-the-ball defense that allowed 120 yards on the night and a special teams squad that blocked three punts, giving the Comets a lot less ground to cover.  Rico Lumar had two of those blocks.

Those are the things Monica looks for in his players, regardless of how small or young they are.

“We’re not a big play team,” Monica said. “Our offense has to move the ball and keep their offense off the field. Our defense has to take care of business. We can’t have missed assignments, missed tackles and what have you. And our special teams have to be where they’re supposed to be and know their assignments.”

The main thing is to get better every week, Monica said.

“They’re learning,” Monica said. “They’re trying real hard.”

Now all they have to do is use that plan to get through the rest of the district juggernaut. The Comets travel to Newman this week, then travel to Riverside before hosting West St. John and Country Day.

“We have to take it as it comes,” Monica said. “If we get down by two or three scores, we’re going to have a hard time making that up.”