Catholic schools preview: Wolves will bay loud and clear in 6-5A

Winning is nothing new to Ken Sears and Frank Monica, They have run successful football programs at St. Paul’s and St. Charles Catholic, respectively, for years.

But for young Ryan Manale, his early success as De La Salle’s head coach could be the springboard to a bright future.

The three Catholic school mentors are once again expected to have a football season chocked with several victories.

St. Paul’s has been one of the top programs in District 6-5A over Sears’ 16-year tenure. Last season the Wolves enjoyed a 7-4 record, although they had to settle for a bridesmaid role to Ponchatoula. But with 13 starters among 74 lettermen returning, the Pack won’t just be howling at the moon in 2015. The Clarion Herald looks for St. Paul’s to win a district championship.

Among the key returnees is quarterback (and the coach’s son) Kenny Sears, now standing 6-3 and with a big-time arm and solid body as a runner. His main target will be Tim Bedford, a rangy wide-out with 4.5 speed.

But the strength of the Wolves could be the defense, which will be tested early by Edna Karr and Jesuit the first two weeks of the season. On paper, St. Paul’s appears to be the team to beat.

How they’ll finish in District 6-5A: 1. St. Paul’s, 2. Mandeville, 3. Covington, 4. Ponchatoula, 5. Slidell, 6. Fontainebleau, 7. Hammond, 8. Northshore.

Comets in title hunt
Losing seasons have been part of St. Charles Catholic’s ancient history since Monica took over in 1999. A member of Louisiana’s 200-win club (a
228-71 record at Lutcher, Jesuit, Riverside and SCC), Monica has assembled some productive teams during his stay. The Comets’ main adversaries include Riverside Academy and West St. John, two programs that need no introduction; their trophy cases are bulging with awards.

Although the Comets have some outstanding talent, Monica is trying to fine tune an offense that has nine new starters. The defense should still be solid, and the kicking game is one of the best in this class, so look for the Comets to be knocking on the door again.

How they’ll finish in District 12-2A: 1. Riverside, 2. St. Charles Catholic, 3. West St. John, 4. Newman, 5. Country Day, 6. Sophie Wright.

Key battles ahead for Cavs
District 9-3A would be a brisk walk in the park for De La Salle if not for the additions of rural Lutcher and St. James to the mix of schools located in the New Orleans area.

The Cavaliers have the talent and ability to roll over Lusher, McMain, KIPP Renaissance and Clark, but the veteran-laden Bulldogs from Lutcher are certainly the squad to beat this season. They drop down from Class 4A just when De La Salle is making a move to field a “big-time” team again, something they hadn’t enjoyed in decades until Manale took over in 2012.

How they’ll finish in District 9-3A: 1. Lutcher, 2. De La Salle, 3. St. James, 4. Lusher, 5. McMain, 6. KIPP Renaissance, 7. Clark.

Hawks, Jags have hurdles
When Archbishop Hannan and Pope John Paul II teams meet in a District 12-2A game, it’s always an entertaining night of football. But the two will be hard-pressed to be play- ing for a post-season berth.

Just two seasons ago, Han- nan was in the Division IV championship game. Perhaps the 62-7 shellacking by Calvary Baptist was an omen of things to come. They slumped to a 1-8 record.

Pope John Paul II was equally in the throes of a losing season, winning one of 11 games. But now the Jaguars seem to be on their way up the ladder. And they have 13 returning starters to bolster their efforts.

How they’ll finish in District 9-2A: 1. St. Thomas Aquinas, 2. Northlake Christian, 3. Spring- field, 4. Pine, 5. St. Helena Cen- tral, 6. Pope John Paul 11, 7. Archbishop Hannan.

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