There is no Superdome Classic for St. Charles Catholic – and that suits coach Frank Monica and his Comets just fine.
“I think it will be exciting for our kids to play in a college stadium and setting,” Monica said. “The Superdome is nice, but logistically, we have this to ourselves. We have our own locker rooms and you will not be running off the field. If you are in the Superdome there is a time schedule (with multiple games).
“There is no glamour going to the Superdome and playing on a Thursday morning at 10 a.m. for a state championship.”
The glamour the Comets seek comes at 6 p.m. Saturday when St. Charles Catholic, the No.3 seed, takes on top-seeded Lafayette Christian Academy for the Division III state championship at Cajun Field on the campus of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
The Comets reached the state title game after edging Catholic High of New Iberia 43-42 in double-overtime in which SCC recovered a fumble near its own end zone to force overtime and blocked an extra point to win in the second overtime.
It’s the type of things the Comets have done all season.
“We’ve won several games this year late in the game,” Monica said. “We’ve been very fortunate in most of them to come out on top. We had a triple-overtime against De La Salle, we had a late win against Lutcher and Newman, that went all the way down to the end.
“I guess this is a team of destiny and I hope we can have that same type of luck for one more week.”
The Knights may consider themselves a team of destiny as well.
Like SCC, Lafayette Christian has made it through the season with only one loss. That one loss was to Acadiana, the top-ranked team in Class 5A. The Knights managed to maintain the No. 1 ranking in Class 2A throughout the season with wins over the likes of Evangel and Notre Dame of Crowley.
Directing Lafayette Christian’s offense is quarterback Errol Rogers.
“Their quarterback is a special deal,” Monica said. “He’s a very athletic guy with a strong, strong arm. Unlike last week (against CHNI), he’s more of a thrower but he can run. He has that kind of ability. If you cover everybody, he will pull the ball down and run.”
“Their big thing is off-schedule throws,” the St. Charles coach continued. “He will run around a little bit waiting for someone to get open so down and distance doesn’t matter to them, whether it’s first second or third down.”
Logan Gabriel is LCA’s rugged, 5-foot-11, 210-pound running back. Although he missed several games with injuries, Gabriel rushed for 115 yards and three touchdowns in the Knights’ semifinal win over Dunham.
“Gabriel is a guy you have to get on the ground,” said Monica.
Dalen Gondron is another option in Lafayette Christian’s rushing attack.
Sage Ryan is a threat as a slot receiver and return specialists.
Joining Ryan in the receiving corps are Ethan Laing, Ephraim Rose and Dane Wallace.
“All of their receivers are pretty special. They have speed all over the field. It’s not like you will shut down one guy,” said Monica.
The Knights’ skilled player operate behind a big offensive line.
“They don’t pull an awful lot. They do a lot of zone stuff and they do some counters. The big thing is to stop their throwing game first,” said Monica.
If one team has a particular advantage, Monica said, it’s LCA’s defensive front
against the Comets’ offensive line.
“We have to find a way to move the ball,” Monica said. “It will be hard to move the ball against these guys. We are not going to knock them back off the ball because we are not big enough to do that. We have to try and use the short passing game and that sort of thing and try and keep them off-balance.
“We are not a big-play team. We have to take the field position, that hopefully, our special teams will give us.”
Several of the big guys up front go both ways for the Knights including 285-pound Kylin Leblanc, 282-pound Tyrell Lockett, and 275-pound Noah Bellow.
Ryan also plays on defense of Lafayette Christian as does Laing.
Another top defender is nose guard Fitzgerald West, a 310-pound sophomore.
Although the Comets reached the title game coming off a high-scoring affair, that’s generally not SCC’s roadmap to success.
“If it’s a high-scoring game, we won’t be able to trade punches with them,” said Monica.
SCC can win the state championship, Monica said, if they Comets play well in all areas.
“You talk about an all-phase game; this will be an all-phase game for us. If one phase doesn’t perform, we are not good enough to just have the defense play well and the offensive not, or vice-versa.