The St. Thomas More Cougars came into 2023 with lofty expectations. After all, they are the defending Division II State Champions.
Despite those expectations, this year’s edition of the Cougars are off to an excellent start. A dominant win over Comeaux got things going. They followed that up handling Alexandria on the road. And last week, they dominated Brother Martin to get to 3-0 and make it known that they are looking to repeat as champions.
This week, they face the only team that beat them a year ago: Catholic of Baton Rouge. Experienced Coach Jim Hightower spoke about his team in today’s Prep Profile Q&A.
Question: Coach, what did you think about this team coming into the year? What were your expectations for the team and how did that shape how you guys started?
Answer: I had a lot of high expectations for this team based on the leadership that I was seeing out of our senior group. Their work habits were excellent. We made a lot of real big improvements in the offseason. The summer weight and running programs were excellent. So a lot of signs that you like to see from a team and the way they work and the way they get along with each other and you know, kind of the character of the team. I think that was showing early.
Q: What’s kind of impressed you about both your offensive group and your defensive group here through three games?
A: Their effort has been excellent. You know, their effort not only on the game field but on the practice field and in preparation, film study, all of that, all of those little things. They seem to be taking care of business pretty well. Our defense is playing with a lot of confidence and a lot of speed. That’s a good sign. On the offense, we’ve had to work around some missing parts and stuff, but it’s given other people opportunities to step up and I think we’re starting to get the pieces in place and feeling really good. Sam (Altmann)’s leadership has been wonderful. You know, he’s got a wealth of experience over the last two years and I think that’s really showing in the way he’s handling himself and the way he’s handling the team.
Q: Your team got the win over Brother Martin. Anytime you beat a Catholic League opponent from New Orleans and a 5A school like that’s going to get people to notice. So just talk about that performance for you guys.
A: Yeah, that was a big game for us and our team really performed I think. I have got loads of respect for Brother Martin. The way they prepare their team and the people that they came in with. But our kids just really went out and played hard right from the start and we made some big plays when we needed to and kind of got an upper hand and then things kind of went our way after that.
Q: It is three games in, but a lot of people have your team ranked #1 in Class 4A. How do you manage keeping your team level-headed?
A: We have so many hard opponents including this week with Catholic of Baton Rouge. You can’t look past that game for sure. We know we have our hands full. All you can do is keep improving week to week and hopefully we will be able to stay healthy, have a productive week this week, and on into the future.