When people think of the St. Thomas More offense, they immediately think of senior quarterback Will Bellamy and senior receiver Trevor Begue.
The two have hooked for 54 times for 960 yards and 16 touchdowns this season and become one of the most prolific duos in the state.
But any offense isn’t made up of only two players and Begue credited the underrated supporting cast around him with helping him succeed in his first season at the wide receiver position.
Griffin Hebert, Matthew LaGrange and Jamison Thibodeux have all been integral cogs to the Cougars’ offensive machine this season.
“It makes it difficult to focus on me too much because whenever they do that it seems like Griffin and LaGrange explode every time,” Begue said. “And (Thibodeaux) is an X-factor for us. If they double me [Bellamy] can hit the other guys on a fade or something like that. If they want to do that we can hurt them somewhere else.”
St. Thomas More receivers coach Lance Strother echoed the statement and said it was a blessing to work with four receivers as talented as the Cougars’ group.
“It’s a blessing. It’s a difficult thing to just hone in on Trevor, although Trevor’s talent level garners that kind of attention,” Strother said. “Throughout the season, we always try to see what team’s are going to do with Begue and that typically opens things up for the other guys.”
Hebert, a prototypical ‘X’ receiver in the Cougars’ offensive system, uses his height (6’3) and excellent body control to punish defenses who bite on Begue’s underneath routes.
Through 12 weeks Hebert has 40 catches for 584 yards and seven touchdowns.
Strother said each receiver brings his own speciality to the field and the coaching staff tries to put them in positions to maximize their talents.
“If anybody has watched our games this season it is apparent that Griffin is a vertical threat, he does a great job of using his body,” Strother said. “He’s a 6-foot-3 receiver with fantastic hands who has really come on strong in his knowledge of the game and the nuances of the position.”
The spacing between the routes is something the Cougars’ coaching staff has preached to their receiving corps.
If any receivers takes a route off, doesn’t run it at full speed, it can gum up their high-flying attack and minimize the windows Bellamy has to throw into.
“If I’m running an arrow route and Griffin is running the post, I have to run my route as hard as I can to pull that linebacker outside to open up that window,” Begue said. “If I run a lazy route it messes with Griffin’s route, so we all just have to work for each other and that’s how we’ve been successful on offense this year.”
Strother said each of the four receivers has had their moments this season, and all have had games where they were crucial in a Cougar victory.
“All four receivers there have been games where they have been the key to our offense success,” Strother said. “Whether that’s converting sticks or scoring touchdowns, each one of those four receivers have stepped up in a major way throughout the season.”
Having LaGrange and Hebert allows Begue to often move into the slot position, where his affect can be devastating.
Cornerbacks often enough have trouble keeping up with Begue’s blazing speed, so matching up against a linebacker or safety in the slot often puts Begue in the best position to pop a big play.
“In the slot, it opens up space for me to run different read routes,” Begue said. “It forces the outside linebacker to have to guard me and that’s a better matchup for me, if I can get around him it’s pretty much me one-on-one with a safety so I’m just really looking for space.”
But Strother said it was the Cougars’ ability to remain flexible with all of their receivers that makes them so difficult to defend.
All four can line up almost anywhere on the offensive formation.
“We feel unlimited. (Offensive coordinator Shane) Savoie does a fantastic job, we feel like there is no limitations on where we can put Begue. “When we look at a defense there is not any limitations inside or outside that we feel like we need to maintain.”
While all four have obvious physical tools at the receiver position, it’s their mental ability to process information and then execute off of that information that has helped them be so successful.
“It is not just a physically demanding position. It’s mentally demanding and being able to execute at a high level you have to be able to do that in a quick amount of time,” Strother said. “It’s one thing to be able to execute in a slowed down atmosphere during practice, it’s another thing to be poised enough to execute at game speed and that’s something that we emphasize.”
The mental aspect of the game is where Begue has made the most improvement, Strother said.
As a running back for the first two years of his high school career, Begue had to learn a completely new position this season in order to excel.
“Trevor has come a long way,” Strother said. “He’s really accelerated through his learning curve at the position when it comes to reading defenses and how to exploit what coverage and what leverage.”
In a position increasingly dominated by ‘me-first’ athletes, the Cougars’ receivers stand out in their willingness to share Bellamy’s targets with each other.
Strother said as a former receiver he learned how important the chemistry between not only the quarterback and the receivers was, but how important the bond was between the receivers when trying to generate success in the passing game.
Begue said the receivers all play for each other and only care about one thing at the end of games: getting the win.
“Every Tuesday we do receiver dinner, we’re really close,” Begue said. “It doesn’t matter which one of scores or whatever, we just want to win it doesn’t matter who gets the catches. It’s a special bond that we have.”