CROWLEY – The second round of the 3A playoffs finds third ranked Notre Dame traveling to play at fourth ranked St. Charles. The Comets are the defending state champions, seeded #18.
Now in his 12th season at St. Charles, Coach Frank Monica led the Comets to a 15-0 record and the 3A state championship last year. In 23 years as a head coach, he has 211 wins, 125 of those at St. Charles. Monica knows a little bit about winning and tries to keep it light when it comes to his opponent.
“If Notre Dame has a weakness, it may be in their maintenance department. They are an awfully good team and coach Cook is an icon in coaching. It will be difficult for us to move the ball on their defense and they are big and strong on offense.”
Yes, this is another product of the power ranking system that most coaches will agree is better than the past process. This year, the process has stacked the deck against the #2 seed Pios, but Coach Lewis Cook says that is just the way it goes sometimes.
“The way everybody schedules nowadays, it’s a simple fact that you are at the mercy of the district you are put in. Good teams have a hard time scheduling outside league games and the weaker teams pile up the points with wins against lesser competition.”
A prime example was Buckeye at the #7 seed, who lost at home 49-6 to #26 Iowa, a team that was 8-2 in the regular season. Iowa beat five teams outside of District 4-3A of which not a one had more than three wins and all five combined for just 10 wins. Buckeye gained a higher seed with four wins against 1A and 2A teams with good records and a loss to 1A Mangham with eight wins to total 27 points. By comparison, due to the week one cancellation Notre Dame played just four games prior to district against teams with a combined 28 regular season wins.
“There were 80 games the first week and 20 of those games were won by the lower seed. Some years you sit there and think you have a cake walk and it’s not. Look at Acadiana in 5A, they win 8 games, their district doesn’t have as much success and they get a #14 seed and have to go to West Monroe in the second round.”
Big Plays were the recipe for the evening from both teams last Friday. After further review, Cook was dead on with his post game comments about his defense. The passing yardage by Patterson was more a product of their skills.
“We had a couple of busts that helped them, but two things in the game that made a difference were the plays they made and the penalties they got. We had them third and long and get called for interference. We aided some of their drives, but the plays they made, we were right there. We look at film and say, how did they catch that ball?”
Top 10 Pios Big Plays vs. Patterson
#10 - Mathew Hanks recovers muffed opening kickoff at Patterson 13 leading to Dustin Reiners 35-yard field goal for an early lead.
#9 – Austin Thibodeaux bursts through massive hole provided by offensive line and speeds to a 47-yard TD run for a 10-6 ND lead the Pios would never again surrender.
#8 – Matt Venable makes consecutive QB sacks for losses of nine and eight yards, the second halting a drive at Pios 33. Sammie Graf gave help on that sack which forced a punt at the 50.
#7 – Brad Stoma runs 22 yards on fourth and two at the Pios 44. Cook rolled the dice and Stoma faked inside, pulled out and around the right side to the Jacks 34. Luke Broussard ran it in from there for a 17-6 lead.
#6 – John Michael Besse 74 yard TD run after Patterson scored, cutting the lead to 17-12. Like Thib and Brousse’s scoring runs before him, if there was one thing certain when Besse turned the corner, it was they were not going to catch him.
#5 – Christian Landry fourth down pass break up in the end zone. After Patterson recovered a slow rolling second half kickoff, the Jacks marched to the Pios ten and the ND secondary forced four straight incompletions on consecutive QB hurries by Matt Venable and Hunter Stelly, a pass beak up by Gavin Bourgeois on third down and the fourth down play by Landry.
#4 – Gavin Bourgeois fourth down interception at the Pios one to preserve 24-18 lead.
#3 - Luke Broussard 22-yard TD run following the interception gave the Pios a 31-18 cushion.
#2 – Luke Broussard capped his 205 yard rushing game with 56-seconds to play on an 18-yard TD run to seal the win.
#1 – Nate Link sacks Patterson QB Denzel Johnson to end the game. It was the icing on the cake for a defense that spent the night chasing and pressuring the elusive Jacks QB.
GAME BALL AWARDS
Big Play of the Game – Gavin Bourgeois – Has had a great season and an even better three week stretch. 4th Quarter interception was the biggest of the big plays. On a fourth down play from the Pios 15, Bourgeois saw the open field ahead and instead of knocking down the pass, picked it off and returned 60 yards to set up a Pios TD.
Matt Venable – What a game! 11 tackles, four for lost yardage, 5 QB sacks and 5 QB pressures and hits. He leads the Pios with 14 QB hits this season and has 58 tackles and a blocked kick.
Offensive Line – All of you guys! We know your numbers, we know your names, but it is sometimes a little hard to tell which of you is in the game at a particular time because of the rotations. As the cliché goes, the holes were wide enough to drive a truck through! Blocking on the sweeps was so contained that coming around the corner was like getting a vision of the Mojave Desert!
Luke Broussard – Had 21 carries for 205 yards and three touchdowns. Brousse now has eight games of over a hundred yards and totals 1,319 yards for the season, averaging 7.1 per carry.
Kipp Credeur – Led the defense with 14 tackles, had a sack and a pass breakup.
Defensive Line - With a combined 20 tackles from Chad Gibson(8), Sammy Graf(5), Clint Reiners(4) and Nate Link(3), the defense accomplished its goal of taking away the run. Patterson finished with minus 38 yards on the ground.
St. Charles returned just six starters from the state championship team of last season that graduated 21 seniors. It showed in the early season when the Comets lost their first two games to 4A Vandebilt Catholic (36-33) and 5A Northshore (26-21).
“We’re not the same team that won in the Dome last year,” noted Comets Coach Monica. “We lost our entire offensive backfield two tight ends and two receivers. Then we lost our all-State defensive tackle Taylor Cochran (6-3, 325) to injury.”
St. Charles has since won eight straight including last week’s 27-26 win at Westlake in the playoff opener. Down 26-7 at the half, the Comets rode the 180 total yards of sophomore QB Austin Weber (5-9, 160) to make up the 19-point deficit on the road. Weber threw two touchdown passes and ran one in. Wide receiver Chad McNeil (6-3, 170, Jr) caught 7 passes for a hundred yards and both the Weber TD passes.
“To be quite honest, the turnaround was because we dried up,” laughed Monica. “A lot of our kids are still not at home after flooding from the storm. They were trying to practice and gut houses at the same time while our opponents were well prepared. I think our kids realized a sense of urgency and the seniors kind of woke up and said they didn’t want to be the class to not make the playoffs. We started to practice better and here we are.”
Junior Jermal Baptiste (6-0, 185) started the year at QB, but an injury forced Weber to move in from running back and he has run for over 500 yards splitting time at both positions. Erron Lewis (5-8, 175, So) and Brandon Zimmer (6-3, 190, Sr) also see time in the backfield. Zimmer had the go ahead score with just under five minutes to play at Westlake.
“They are a run team first, but they will mix it up to try and control the football,” noted Pios coach Lewis Cook. “Not counting punts last week, Westlake only ran ten plays in the second half. We will need to slow down their run to get them off the field.”
St. Charles did return the three starters on the defensive front led by juniors David Bleakly (6-0, 225) at tackle and Sean McGraw (5-11, 235) at nose guard. Luke Trahan (6-3, 215, Sr) returns at end in the 3-4 scheme.
“Unlike last week, their safety plays no less than 12 yards off the ball,” notes Cook. “They try to keep everything in front and make you earn what you get. We hope that kind of plays into our hand with us wanting to be that kind of team, but we have to keep from making mistakes to do that.”
“The bottom line is it will kind of be like playing ourselves,” noted Cook. “They block well, making it hard to get off and make a play. We have to play hard defensively to not give up anything big.”
“It’s a big compliment to think we are like them,” adds the Comets’ Monica. “We have to stay away from the big momentum plays. You can’t let Notre Dame do that to you and expect to win, as their opponent found out last week.”