The big hype for St. Thomas More before the season revolved around the offense.
Quarterback William Bellamy and receiver Trevor Begue were back and the Cougars had a host of other returning starters to anchor the unit.
And while the Cougars offense has been as good as advertised, it’s the defense that has been the most impressive.
After suffering a plethora of injuries before the season, the Cougars have responded to the challenge and only allowed 13 and 14 points, respectively in the first two games of the season.
Throw in a jamboree performance when the defense only allowed one touchdown (Notre Dame’s other touchdown was via a pick-six) and the Cougars are off to a strong start.
St. Thomas More coach Jim Hightower credited the performances of the members of the Cougars defensive line as one of the factors to why his defense has played so well in the opening action.
Returners Aaron Monrose, Christian Leonard and Logan Klusman have predictably performed well, but Sam Greenwood who is filling in because of injuries has played well despite catching on slow at first.
“He was a little slow getting started as he got used to the position,” said STM defensive coordinator Terry Tidwell. “But once he got his feet working he picked it up quickly.
Tidwell said the three returning starters – ends Monrose and Leonard and tackle Klusman – are all strong with quick feet and Monrose in particular has a lot of experience.
“There hasn’t been an offensive tackle capable of keeping them out of the backfield so far,” Tidwell said. “Monrose and Leonard have done a good job of anchoring the edge.”
Hightower said while the performances haven’t surprised him, he has been pleased with the performances.
Another standout performance from the Cougars has come from linebacker James Brauns, who was a member of The Daily Advertiser’s Preseason All-Acadiana team.
But the impressive thing is he’s been able to do it at two positions.
Brauns was shifted to safety in the Cougars second game, again helping to plug holes left by injuries, and after a quarter of getting comfortable at the spot played well.
Tidwell said in the Cougars’ defense the outside linebacker spot that Brauns typically plays has elements of safety built into the position so the concept wasn’t totally foreign to the senior.
“He solidified our safety position when he filled in, but now we’ve got some youth at linebacker,” Hightower said. “But he performed well there for us.”
Both Payton Broussard and Josh Hebert have rounded out the Cougars defense by providing lockdown coverage on the outside at the cornerback position.
Hebert in particular has played well after switching positions in the summer to cornerback and fitting in well at his new position.
Tidwell said Hebert switched to help fill needs at the position after the Cougars lost some starters in the secondary from last season.
“He had a really good summer of work and he’s got a lot of speed,” Tidwell said. “He’s done a fine job covering, especially in week two.”