For much of the year, St. Thomas More and Breaux Bridge have been ranked near the pinnacle of the 4A polls. St. Thomas More is 7-0 and considered the favorite -- along with Neville -- to win the state title. Last year, the Cougars went 13-1 and reached the 5A quarterfinals before running into eventual state champ Acadiana. In fact, St. Thomas More was the only program to beat Acadiana on the field* in 2010; the Cougars handled the Rams in district, 42-17.
Although STM has several quality wins on its resume this fall, the Cougars have shown signs of mortality over the past three weeks. In week five, a last-second Don Oliver field goal provided the winning points in a 39-36 nailbiter vs. Barbe. Two weeks ago, STM edged Teurlings Catholic, 27-24. Last Friday, the Cougars trailed Northside entering the fourth quarter before exploding for a 36-20 victory.
The Cougars have a polished passer at the helm in junior QB Brandon Bergeron (6-3, 195). In his club's 28-12 win over 2010 5A semifinalist Westgate, Bergeron dissected the Tigers' defense by completing 20-of-25 passes for 267 yards. There's no debate concerning Bergeron's number one receiver; it's senior Andrew Stevenson, an LSU baseball commit who has consistently beaten defensive backs for long touchdowns. Versus Westgate, Stevenson caught four passes for 144 yards. On the year, Stevenson is listed among the state's leading receivers with 27 catches for 559 yards. He and Bergeron riddled Evangel Christian's secondary in STM's 41-27 triumph over the Eagles.
STM RB Jon Juneau has been battling an injury. Fellow senior back Matt Flores can catch, run and throw the football. Last year, Flores took quite a few snaps at QB. Jordan Murray (6-3, 250, Sr.) is a menacing blocker at tight end. OL Will McMillan impressed at the National Underclassmen Combine over the summer, earning MVP Honors. Beau Brodhead (DB) and Griffin DeJean (DL) are players to watch on defense.
Breaux Bridge has four seniors committed to FBS programs: RB/LB Lamar Louis (LSU), WRs Travin Dural and Kavahra Holmes (both to LSU), and LB Tyren Alexander (UL Ragin' Cajuns). Louis, a powerful 6-0, 200-pounder with 4.54 speed, turned an ankle in the waning moments of the Tigers' week five shootout (49-42 win) vs. Woodlawn-Baton Rouge. He wasn't 100% last week and sat out much of the game after taking an early hit to the same ankle. Louis (pictured below) is equally talented on either side of the ball but has been pressed into duty at RB due to an injury to Darian Thomas (broken leg). Senior Adrian Menard (5-9, 190) has been an effective inside/outside runner.
The Tigers have used two quarterbacks: Randall Menard and Lane Landry. Menard, the starter, missed a couple weeks after an injury to his non-throwing hand. He returned to the lineup two weeks ago and split time with Landry. Last Friday, Menard took most of the snaps but could never find a rhythm vs. an inspired Teurlings defense. Dural (6-2, 185) is a playmaker: 14 of his 30 receptions have gone for touchdowns.
"We have to play together as a team," said Dural when asked to pinpoint the necessary ingredients for a win this week. "I feel like we needed the loss (to Teurlings), because we're hungry now.
"STM has a real good team. They're very disciplined and won't get caught out of position, but I feel like we can beat them with our athletes. I can tell you that (teammate and defensive back) Brandon Chevalier will shut down their best receiver."
*Acadiana won the state championship but was forced - prior to the postseason - to forfeit a handful of games due to an ineligible player.