St. Thomas coach Jim Hightower saw potential of offense early _lowres

Advocate photo by Buddy Delahoussaye -- St. Thomas More coach Jim Hightower discusses some things with one of his assistants in last week's game against Carencro.

LAFAYETTE — Some may be surprised at the emergence of the football talent coming from St. Thomas More this season, but Cougars coach Jim Hightower said he hasn’t seen anything thus far that he wasn’t expecting.

“They were pretty good for us last year,” Hightower said. “We expected a high degree of performance this year, and I am pretty pleased with what we have accomplished so far.”

Quarterback Will Bellamy, wide receiver Tiger Bech and running back Trevor Begue are turning heads with an offensive output rivaling anyone in the state. Last Friday, the Cougars gained more than 500 yards against Carencro in a 56-21 win.

Bellamy had 280 yards passing in that game and three touchdowns, two of those touchdowns going to Bech, who had 190 yards on seven catches.

Begue added 130 yards on the ground and two touchdowns of his own.

Hightower said the production from his big three is going according to plan, but the play from the supporting cast has been the surprise thus far.

“The guys around them are making it easier,” Hightower said. “The linemen are opening up running lanes so we can get some real good production out of the running game. Trevor Begue has been super, and our receivers have been catching the ball real well. We expected Tiger to come back and catch well, but it’s pretty much been a team effort.”

The team effort that STM has shown thus far has afforded them a 3-0 start against pretty stiff competition. Aside from the win against Carencro, the Cougars have a 43-26 win over Sulphur and a win over Gladewater, a squad from Gladewater, Texas that STM beat 42-21.

Hightower said the game against Gladewater was a physical ballgame and said them being from Texas wasn’t something that entered the team’s mind come game time.

“It didn’t matter where they were from,” he said. “They could just as well been from Monroe or New Orleans. They were still a good football team. I think that was the main thing. We just wanted to play good competition and get us prepared to go into district play.”

District 5-4A is looking to be a little stiffer than the last few years, with teams like Northside and Cecilia vastly improved enough to perhaps put pressure on the traditional district powers of STM, Teurlings and Breaux Bridge.

Hightower said the level of the nondistrict schedule is needed to play in such a competitive district.

“I think the district is pretty even this year,” Hightower said. “It has always been competitive, but this year it is absolutely going to be more competitive. Breaux Bridge, Cecilia, Teurlings, Northside and do not forget Westgate and St. Martinville. There isn’t going to be an easy one in this district.”

The Cougars host Evangel on Friday, a team Northside upset last Friday 13-10. Hightower said keeping the season’s momentum going is a must to have confidence moving forward.

“We are off to a real positive start,” Hightower said. “We’ve played well against some real quality opponents and come out ahead.

“Everything has been positive, and we just need to keep it going.”