St. Charles Catholic moves up in class, pecking order for 2017 football season
As one of the most accomplished head football coaches in the history of Louisiana prep football, Frank Monica has won 249 games in his illustrious career, the 22nd most in state history.
Monica has won state championships at multiple schools, most recently in 2011 at St. Charles Catholic.
Monica has also led the Comets to three other state title game appearances, including last season when they lost to district rival Riverside in the championship game. He has coached teams in seven state championship games. He has the maps to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and does not need a GPS to locate it.
Simply put, Monica is one of the very best in the business and his St. Charles Catholic program is one of the best in the state as well.
In 2017, both truths should manifest themselves once again.
The challenge for the Comets grows stronger as St. Charles Catholic has moved up to low 3A enrollment and has been classified in Division II, up from Division III a year ago.
Despite the step up in class, look for the Comets to be a genuine contender for state championship honors in 2017, despite the always cautious approach Monica takes publicly about his teams.
“We’re not excited about it because we are really a school with 2A numbers,” Monica said. “They used a new formula this year and that caused us to move up. That is what we have. We will be facing 4A competition in the playoffs. We are not hitting on all cylinders yet. Our work ethic has to improve. We have a ways to go.”
St. Charles Catholic returns no fewer than seven all-district performers from a year ago.
On offense, eight of 11 starters return.
It begins at quarterback with the brilliant talent of 5-foot-10, 170 pound senior Lloyd Nash. Nash is an electrifying athlete with the ball in his hands, very tough to contain. Nash is a Nicholls commit, who figures as a defensive back at the next level.
Sophomore running back Phillip Tran (5-7, 150) returns after an outstanding freshman season while senior Narquez Jones (5-11, 195) was an all-district performer a year ago as well. The duo is joined in the backfield by junior Joe Chierella (5-7, 160) and Noah Fiorella.
“Lloyd is a talented player and a natural leader,” Monica said. “We really like our running backs. We have depth and talent at the position. With Lloyd under center, you always have a chance. Others have to accept responsibility and not totally depend on him.”
Seniors Randall Campbell (6-1, 200) and Noah Bork (6-1, 210) will handle tight end duties while Bork will split time at fullback. The wide receivers include senior Darrin Blystad, along with juniors Taylor Miller and Cameron Fabre.
“Our receivers are all new,” Monica said. “We don’t know what we will get there but we do have a little size. We have to move Bork to fullback some.”
Up front, three seniors anchor the offensive line, which returns four starters. They include tackles Robert McDonald and John Waldron, along with guard Gavin Babesh. Junior Joshua Carter and sophomore Evan Roussel are the guards while junior Grant Vicknair is the center. Senior Ethan Nelson will see time as well.
“We feel Babesh will be a very good player,” Monica said. “We are a revolving door in terms of where guys will play and we have to develop more consistency and take it to another level.”
The 3-4 defensive alignment features six returning starters, led by senior linebacker Dellary Oubre (6-1, 205), who was the second leading tackler a year ago. He will be joined at linebacker by senior Jordan Jensen, along with junior Anderson Sirmon.
“Dellary is an excellent player and a leader,” Monica said. “He finds the ball and tackles well. Much like with Nash, we have to have other guys step up and not just watch him play and lead. We will not succeed unless we play as a unit and play hard all the time while improving.”
The Comets are stout up front, led by a pair of returning all-district players in senior Rodney Blanks (5-11, 210) and sophomore nose guard Mason Narcisse (6-2, 245). They will be joined by seniors Trey Desilvey, Gavin St. Pierre and Babesh, along with sophomore DeAndre Keller.
“Narcisse should be very good for us,” Monica said. “You always like experience at the point of attack.”
The secondary is led by a returning all-district player in senior Trey Joseph (5-9, 155). He will be joined by senior Trey Arceneaux and junior Nick Lorio. Nash will play at times in the deep as well to provide even more athleticism to a good group.
“We have a chance to be physical on defense,” Monica said. “Joseph is a good player with experience. Arceneaux is a senior as well and we expect him to perform well for us.”
Jensen is the punter while Fabre and Babesh will handle kicking duties. Tran, Joseph and Nash give St. Charles Catholic a very potent return game. The Comets have to replace a fine kicker in Andrew Rodrigue.
“You take for granted how Andrew put the ball in the end zone frequently on kickoffs,” Monica said. “That is a big deal with field position.”
The schedule is intriguing.
It opens at Bobby Nuss Stadium against an improved 5A team in Chalmette on Sept. 1. Then comes an even tougher test against an elite 5A team at Destrehan. St. Charles Catholic travels to Woodville, MS to take on Wilkinson County before the Comets return home to host former district foe Country Day. The final non-district game is at Gonzales against East Ascension.
“How we come out the gate is the key to our season,” Monica said. “Chalmette is a very good team. They called us to play and not many folks do that. They feel strongly that they are good and they run the Wing-T offense very well. They have basically all juniors and seniors. It is an offense you don’t see anymore. They are big and powerful and have a big back. Destrehan is always very good, very tough.
District 10-3A play begins on Oct. 6 at Brees Family Field against Lusher before a home game with Donaldsonville. The Comets head to Metairie to take on Haynes before finishing with a flourish against De La Salle and St. James, two of the best teams in Louisiana.
“De La Salle is really good, exceptional,” Monica said. “This could be their season. They are the team to beat but St. James is very talented with two Division I players in the secondary. Donaldsonville is a team to watch. We threw against them in the summer and they have really good skill. We don’t know much about Haynes but they are sound, well coached. Lusher is always a competitive team. We went from a tough district to another tough district. We hope our pre-district schedule prepares us well.”
With a terrific playmaker at quarterback, an experienced offense with a seasoned front and with a tough defense, St. Charles Catholic should make the transition to Division II a seemless one with the Comets making a deep run in the playoffs.
“We’re still not as strong as we want to be,” Monica said. “We have to improve in the weight room and improve on the field.”
Spoken like the Frank Monica we have come to know and respect for many years, you can expect the Comets to be better than the coach professes.
- < PREV Destrehan's Ed Reed Jamboree, St. Charles Catholic Jamboree moved up from Friday to Thursday night
- NEXT > Hometown Heroes: Cecchini, Farquhar, House, Jones back in the big leagues
Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE Owner and CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Football Foundation, College…