“Warhorses! Warhorses! Warhorses!"
So chanted the St. Charles Catholic football team after recording a 14-12 District 10-3A conquest of the De La Salle Cavaliers on Friday night in a defensive slugfest played at Tulane’s Yulman Stadium.
The No. 7-ranked team in The New Orleans Advocate’s Super 10 for small schools certainly played the role in parlaying first- and third-quarter touchdowns by quarterback Justin Dumas and running back Joe Chiarella with a stout defensive effort that handed the reigning District 10-3A champions their first league loss since 2015.
“A horse was created by God and it has a huge heart," Chiarella said in explaining the Comets’ battle cry. “You train it to run and it’s going to run till it drops. That’s our mentality. We don’t stop (playing) till the clock hits zero."
St. Charles (6-3 overall, 4-0 in 10-3A) needed four full quarters to put away the stubborn Cavaliers and avenge a 28-0 loss in 2017 while moving within one victory of capturing the LaPlace school’s first district title since 2012. The Comets close the regular season next Friday at St. James (5-3, 2-1).
De La Salle (5-3, 3-1) still can earn a share of a second consecutive 10-3A crown if it defeats Donaldsonville and St. Charles loses to St. James.
“The biggest challenge tonight was internally," St. Charles coach Frank Monica said. “Our challenge really wasn’t De La Salle. Our biggest challenge was SCC. We played with heart. We were resilient. I didn’t see that earlier in the season. We weren’t as sexy as we wanted to be, but we were resilient. That’s what we wanted to see."
Chiarella swept left end from 8 yards away for a third-quarter touchdown to culminate a workmanlike 12-play, 69-yard drive that gave St. Charles a 14-6 advantage against the No. 2-ranked Super 10 team for small schools following Cameron Fabre’s second successful PAT kick.
Dumas had swept left end for a 10-yard touchdown to account for the game’s first score following a fourth-and-2 gamble by De La Salle coach Ryan Manale that failed at the Cavaliers 45-yard line. Dumas’ touchdown followed eight plays later.
De La Salle, ranked No. 2 in the Super 10 for small schools, out-gained St. Charles, 282-178 overall and 182-127 in rushing but was undone by one missed PAT kick, two other unsuccessful field goal attempts and a failed 2-point conversion pass.
The Cavaliers answered St. Charles’ opening touchdown on their ensuing possession when Kendall Collins Jr. completed a halfback pass to wide-open receiver Ivan Paz from 14 yards away. The drive covered 79 yards in eight plays.
“We stood in there against a quality opponent and we went toe to toe with them," Monica said. “The best thing we did was we kept coming. I saw heart. But we’ve got to keep coming. We need to use this to get better. If we’re going to be a contender, we need to get better."
Collins ran 6 yards for De La Salle’s second touchdown four minutes into the final period following a shanked St. Charles punt that put the Cavaliers in business at the SCC 28-yard line.
Running backs Montrell Johnson and Collins paced De La Salle’s rushing attack with 100 and 57 yards respectively, but that production took 35 carries.
Dumas rushed for a team-leading 73 yards while Chiarella, the Comets' leading rusher, was limited to 37 yards on 15 attempts.
“We came out tonight like I’ve never seen us this season," Chiarella said. “We came out of our shell. We still have things to work on. But we’re hitting our stride."