Fresh off of a 42-28 victory over Winnfield, St. Charles Catholic will face their biggest hurdle of the season Friday night when they travel to Shreveport to take on Evangel in the Class 2A semifinals.
Last week, Marcus Hall led the Comets to the victory, rushing for 97 of his 110 yards in the second half, which allowed St. Charles to finally put Winnfield away.
“I thought Winnfield gave us all we could handle,” Comets head coach Frank Monica said. “They had a lot of desire, but we were resilient. I don’t know if it was our best game of the year, especially on defense, but we did enough to win.”
The Comets will have to be at their best when they take on Evangel at 7 p.m. The Eagles are 10-2 on the season with their losses coming against Union of Tulsa, Okla. and St. Thomas More, who is seeded second in the Class 5A state playoffs.
The Eagles are averaging 40 points per game on offense, and teams have had plenty of trouble stopping their sophisticated passing attack.
“They really do have a college passing attack and they are good at exploiting your defense and finding the open receiver,” Monica said. “Their yards after the catch is impressive, so the key is to keep them in front of you and get them to the ground right after the catch.”
Monica said that sure tackling hasn’t been one of the Comets ‘strong suits this season, but that it’s imperative that they tackle well if they hope to pull out the victory.
But Evangel isn’t just good on the offensive side of the ball. They are only allowing 9.75 points a game on defense and have shut out four different teams.
“They have a great defensive line and they run to the ball well and are all very quick and aggressive,” Monica said. “They also have a lot of different looks, which can be confusing.”
And even if Monica’s players are in the right position, that doesn’t always guarantee success.
“We are going to have to put a hat on a hat and play assignment football, but sometimes even if you have the right assignments their personnel can overpower you,” Monica said.
But if the Comets want to win, they will have to run the ball well against Evangel’s stingy defensive front.
That means that Hall and his offensive line will have to be at their best.
Hall, who is also a terror as a return specialist, has rushed for 876 yards this season on only 89 carries. He has scored 16 touchdowns on the ground.
“We are going to have to move the chains, take care of the football and keep their offense off the field,” Monica said. “They strike quick, so we need to control the clock and make them play a long field.”
Though the Comets will have to travel to Shreveport, Monica isn’t worried about the affect it will have on his team.
“I don’t think traveling will be a factor,” he said. “We have traveled a lot this season and we know how to do it. Sometimes road games even increase focus, which is a good thing.
“The only thing that will factor into the game will be the players that Evangel puts on the field.”