LAPLACE, La. — St. Charles Catholic’s first opponent of the 2022 season is turnover as they begin their Division III state title defense with 11 players with significant game experience.

“We lost 17 starters. So, it’s a rebuilding process. The cupboard isn’t bare but there’s some spots we definitely need to shore up,” says St. Charles Catholic head football coach Wayne Stein.

Turnover hasn’t bothered the St. Charles Catholic football program in recent years, with the Comets now playing in the last three state championship games.

Their ability to recover each offseason is a result of their commitment to the junior varsity and freshman programs.

“We always tell them, you know, the field is still 120 yards, 53 1/3 wide and if you can do it on the JV level, freshmen level, there’s a good chance that you can do it on the varsity level. I think trying to build depth every year and find places where young guys can play in a role that’s not 60 snaps and then they’ve got to elevate themselves and not be a role player anymore and kind of be the guy,” says Stein.

The guy for the Comets on offense this fall will be quarterback Ayden Authement.

Head coach Wayne Stein feels Authement played his best ball as the year progressed, with his best performance coming in their final game of the year.

“As a quarterback against Lafayette Christian, he carried the ball 24 times in the state championship. He’s not just been a thrower; he’s been a jack of all trades. For this year, you may even see him back there returning punts and kicks because he’s one of our best athletes. He’s definitely a do whatever it takes to win types of guys and you can win with those types of guys,” says Stein.

“It’s like controlling the game. I know Coach Ty trusts me the most and I know I’ve just got to take care of the ball and let things happen,” says St. Charles Catholic senior Ayden Authement.

Defensively, St. Charles Catholic’s strength lies in their front seven with linebacker and championship game MVP Kyle Cannon, Michael Hotard, Matthew Loup, Britten Dean, and Jaden Breaux

“A lot of our returning starters are in that front seven. Ian Arnett at the safety position and Kaden Foster. So again, there’s seven or eight guys that have played which makes you feel good about that, but some of them played in roles. Now they’re going to have to play 60 to 70 snaps a game,” says Stein.

Stein says this fall the Comets may take some lumps early but knows if his team can stay composed, they’ll be competing yet again in a tough Division III field.

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“I think it has 8 to 10 teams that if they get hot or play well at the right time, they really can make a run. Lafayette Christian walking out of it kind of leaves it wide open for anyone to get hot and play well late which last year was us,” says Stein.

St. Charles Catholic opens the 2022 regular season against Archbishop Shaw Friday, September 2.

The 31st edition of WGNO’s Friday Night Football, presented by the Allstate Sugar Bowl, returns Friday, August 19th.

You can catch all of the action on Friday Nights at 11 p.m. on Nola 38 the CW and again at midnight on WGNO.