The St. Thomas More Cougars were cruising into November last season. They were 9-0 and had taken out such traditional powers as Evangel and Teurlings. But a week 10 loss against fellow district tri-champion Breaux Bridge and a 3-point loss to that same Evangel team in the Division II quarterfinals left a team many thought had state championship potential two wins away from the 'Dome. It was a tough end to an outstanding season for STM.

But the Cougars have some great talent coming back in 2014, including starting Junior Quarterback Will Bellamy, who ran STM's high-octane spread offense, which averaged 34.5 points per game, with great efficiency.

"He showed that he doesn't get rattled under pressure," says St. Thomas More Head Coach Jim Hightower in an interview with ESPN 1420's Brandon Comeaux on "Off the Bench." "If Will stumbles a little bit, Matthew's (Gardner) ready to step in. Those two competed hard for the job last year. They both stepped on the field and played...We feel good about our situation at the quarterback spot." Coach Hightower says they are working Gardner at some H-back and tight end.

Even though the Cougars lost play-making wide receiver Kendall "KJ" Johnson to graduation, speedy senior Tiger Bech will be a valuable returning weapon for Bellamy.

Anchoring the offensive line for STM will be returning Center Luke St. Pe, who Coach Hightower calls "a quiet leader but a real steady player who plays hard and smart." He follows a line of excellent centers at STM, including Chris Fisher and Andre Huval, both former Ragin' Cajuns. Also coming back on the O-line will be RT Cole Kreger.

Defensively, the Cougars only gave up 8 points per game last season. They have two returning senior linebackers in the middle, Brennan Bourgeois and John Corry, "two good, hard-nosed football players who make a lot of plays," points out Coach Hightower.

Coach Hightower also talked about the depth they have been developing on the defensive line as they head into the 2014 season. There are some health concerns in the secondary, but he pointed out a couple of non-seniors, Peyton Broussard and Quinten Olivier, as making some standout plays in their scrimmage against Notre Dame.

To listen to Brandon Comeaux's complete interview with STM Head Coach Jim Hightower, CLICK BELOW: