LAFAYETTE — Before St. Thomas More wide receiver Trevor Begue is able to focus on making catches downfield, there is that matter of the battle.

It is the battle that happens on every pass play far removed from the end zone — when receivers and defensive backs are trying to take the first step toward success at the snap.

“A lot of people think about making the big-time catch, but really that’s not the battle,” Begue said. “The battle is at the line of scrimmage. It’s kind of hard to believe that, but if the defender is tight at the line, you have to win that. If you win that ... it’s easier after that. If you don’t win that, it becomes a tough, contested catch.”

Begue has won enough times at the line to score 16 touchdowns within his 56 catches. Before those touchdowns, there had to be precise timing between Begue and Cougars quarterback Will Bellamy.

“If I don’t run a post at 10 yards, Bellamy’s timing is off,” Begue said. “It goes to a lot of different details about timing. It took me a while to understand it.”

Begue got his start on learning the ins and outs of receiving after a chunk of time during the past two years in a different spot. He started as a tailback who registered 353 yards as a sophomore and 610 yards and nine scores as a junior.

Cougars coach Jim Hightower said that was the start of a process of Begue’s switch to slot receiver.

“When he came in as a freshman, he was all running back,” Hightower said. “We saw his quickness and his ability to make cuts and make people miss in the open field. He is a little undersized (5-foot-11, 175 pounds) for running back. We just thought that would give him more of an opportunity to impact the game, keep him healthy and allow him to use the skills that he has. He has good competitiveness and elusiveness.”

The change gradually happened and Begue had more homework to do on being a receiver compared to relying on snap decisions as a running back.

“At first, it was kind of tough,” Begue said. “We spent a lot of time this summer — me and Will — working on routes. In the backfield, I was kind of just going off instinct to just find the hole. Out here (as a receiver), you have so much space, you have so many things you can do.

“Coach (Lance) Strother is the best receivers coach in the state. He has worked with me. I converted to receiver and in college that is what I was going to play.”

Begue has committed to McNeese State. A couple of aspects were appealing: the business school and the Cowboys’ status in the Southland Conference.

“Their football program is top notch and their business program is one of the top programs in the state,” Begue said. “I thought it was a good fit for me. It’s about an hour away and close to home.

“I felt like I could go in there and fit in right away. I’m happy with the outcome of it, but now I’m focused on winning a state championship.”

The opportunity to take another step toward that goal comes Friday when the Cougars (9-2) host Teurlings Catholic (9-3) at Cougar Stadium in a Division II semifinal. Considering the district rivals met earlier this season, with Teurlings posting a 42-28 win, Begue’s learning skills could play a role in the rematch.

“Trevor is very game aware and he has a good understanding of what happens and where things happen,” Hightower said. “He found open seams as a running back. He knew where to take it. He learns. If something doesn’t work, he puts that away and comes up with another plan.”