St. Charles Catholic looks to make run in new class

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For many years, St. Charles Catholic has been a force under Frank Monica.

As he approaches a half century in coaching, Monica is 11th all-time in victories in Louisiana prep football history with 269.

In 20 years at St. Charles Catholic, Monica has guided the Comets to a state championship and a sterling record of 181-65.

A year ago, the Comets were district champions and reached the semifinals in Division II for a second straight season.

Now, St. Charles Catholic has moved back down to Division III for the 2019 season, the first time at that level since 2016 when the Comets reached the state championship game.

In 2015, St. Charles Catholic was in the Division III semifinals and the Comets were in the Division II semifinals in 2014.

The Comets won the Class 3A state championship in 2011 and were in the semifinals in 2A in 2009 and 2010. St. Charles Catholic was in the state title game in 2A in 2005 and 2006.

You get the picture?

“The biggest difference is that 3A and 4A teams are together in Division II and we are always at the bottom of enrollment in 3A,” Monica said. “That really impacted a smaller school like us. While we competed well, it was difficult. We would compete a team like St. Thomas More with 1,100 kids and we were under 400. There are really good teams in Division III as well but just not as many.”

St. Charles Catholic has been one of the most consistently outstanding programs with one of the state’s best all-time coaches in Louisiana for much of the last two decades.

St. Charles Catholic returns 10 starters, including five on each side of the ball.

Senior Justin Dumas (5-11, 170) returns to run the offense at quarterback.

“He is intelligent and has a good arm and has great experience,” Monica said. “We are comfortable with Justin. He understands what we are trying to do and will execute it well.”

Senior Phillip Tran (5-7, 160) returns at running back. Tran was an all-district performer a year ago. He is joined by junior Keenan Gauff (5-9, 156). Junior Logan Forsythe (5-8, 165) completes the backfield for the Comets.

“We feel good about our running backs,” Monica said. “They are pretty good. One is a bowling ball while the other is a quick guy. They complement each other.”

The tight ends include senior Christian Montz and junior Brock Clement.

The wide receivers feature senior Askea Armant (6-0, 155), juniors Kendell Harris (6-0, 160), Joey Nuccio and Troy Johnson along with sophomore Dillon Brown.

Up front, senior Evan Roussel (6-0, 240) is a returning all-district player at left tackle while the right tackle is a battle between senior Nathan Guillory (5-9, 220) and junior Rustin West. The guards are seniors in Matt Accardo (5-8, 205) and Evan Brady while the center is senior Trey Lowry.

“Evan is really a good player,” Monica said. “He is a three-year starter. We need to develop around him.”

Up front on defense, senior all-district performer and Tulane commit Mason Narcisse (6-3, 287) is back to hold the front and he is joined by senior Brandon McDonald and sophomore Kaiden Jones at tackle. Sophomore Moses Clark is the nose guard. The defensive ends are seniors Eli Ory (5-11, 190) and Reggie Hackett, along with junior Tyler Boudreaux. Ory was an all-district choice in 2018.

“Mason is a Tulane commit while Moses and Kaiden are excellent,” Monica said. “Eli is another good player for us.”

Leading the way at linebacker is junior Mandell Eugene (6-1, 190), an all-district player last season. He is joined by juniors Josh Tamplain (5-10, 150) and Sammy Joyce.

“I think Mandell is one of the best linebackers I’ve ever coached in high school,” Monica said. “He brings an intensity and he can run sideline to sideline.”

The secondary has three seniors, including senior safeties Riley LeBlanc and Brady Jacob, along with cornerback Justin Turcuit. The other corners are junior Kameron Campbell and freshman Kaden Foster (5-8, 135).

“We have to rebuild the secondary, other than Campbell,” Monica said. “It will be a work in progress.”

Carter Chauvin is the kicker while Dumas and Clement will compete for punting duties.

“Our lifeline for years has been to be solid on special teams and to create plays that win games,” Monica said. “That’s a huge, huge part of what we do and we will count on that again this year.”

The schedule opens with a pair of tough road games at South Lafourche and Lutcher. It does not get any easier as the Comets host De La Salle, E.D. White Catholic and a very good East Ascension team in succession. Road games at Port Gibson, MS and Franklinton follow before St. Charles Catholic opens District 10-2A play at home against Newman on Oct. 25 before closing with district games with South Plaquemines and Cohen.

“Our schedule is brutal,” Monica said. “It really concerns me about remaining healthy. That is where we are. We play in a four-team league. That’s what makes the schedule so tough. You have to find seven games. We really did not know what difference we would be in until very, very late in the game. We scrambled to find games, including one in Mississippi and others against bigger, tough programs. Unfortunately, a district title doesn’t mean much, anymore. It is good for power points.”

What are the prospects for the Comets this season in Division II?

“You always have Notre Dame and Catholic of New Iberia,” Monica said. “Lafayette Christian has moved up to Division II and they are very good. Newman and Dunham are obviously very good. Those are very good teams. We hope we can spoil the party.”

Though the schedule is most certainly challenging, if not brutal, the Comets are well equipped to make a serious run at playing for a state championship in 2019. What else would you expect?

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Ken Trahan

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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…

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