The Eunice football program never stays down for very long, but it was hard to envision the Bobcats winning their first state championship in more than three decades and first under longtime coach Paul Trosclair last season, of all years.
Sure, they had nine seniors contributing on defense, but the offense was relying on sophomores at several key positions, including at quarterback.
Coming of a 5-6 season in 2017, which included a first-round playoff exit, improvement seemed realistic. But perhaps the only ones who believed the Bobcats were capable of an 8-2 regular season and five straight wins in the Class 3A playoffs were the ones in the locker room.
Indeed, Eunice capped a magical year with a 59-47 win against Sterlington in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, and Trosclair admitted he and the Bobcats “enjoyed it for as long as they could.”
But the focus has shifted to the 2019 season, even if Trosclair’s returners will carry a championship swagger with them into a new year.
“Those guys that experienced that, I think they’re going to play with a lot of confidence,” Trosclair said. “That’s for sure. But you have to start over again. Every year is a new year, and every team is a new one. You can’t rely on the past. It’s great to have done it, but now we have to make our own team here to start over again.”
Eunice’s page-turning started with eight spring practice days, capped off with a spring game against Avoyelles. The focus in the offseason has been on filling all those holes on defense, specifically the secondary.
As is normally the case, Trosclair said he is likely to have two-way contributors again in 2019, but it isn’t as if the Bobcats are short on bodies. Two of the Bobcats’ key departures were two-way players, Class 3A Defensive MVP Avery Lee and All-State first-team selection Carlin Vigers. All-State honorable mention tight end Tyler Darbonne also played some defense.
“We’re probably are going to use a couple of those guys (both ways), probably on the defensive line to give us a little more depth,” Trosclair said. “But we usually get a skill person here or there that will play some on defense and offense. We have some guys to put back there. It’s just they need some repetition and some experience.”
Offensively, however, the Bobcats lose far less, including on the offensive line. Trosclair’s biggest offensive producers from last year are rising juniors, quarterback Simeon Ardoin and tailbacks Deon Ardoin and Jeoul Hill.
“Those three guys, they produced a lot of yards last year,” Trosclair said. “Avery Lee is a big loss because he did so much on defense and offense and special teams. But those three coming back, they’re hard workers. They haven’t taken a step back or relaxed or anything. They just keep trying improve. So that’s the biggest thing.”