Bobcats expect successful season
For the first time since 1995, there will be a new head coach on the Bobcat sidelines.
But Eunice High interim head football coach Andre Vige hopes that is the only change for his team entering the 2020 season.
“I will still remain the play caller of the offense,” he said. “We have a solid staff with a lot of energy and they work well together.
“We are going to change very few things.”
Paul Trosclair’s final season saw the Bobcats finish 9-3 overall, 4-1 in District 4-4A.
Eunice opened the playoffs with a 35-27 win over Plaquemine before the Bobcats fell 8-7 at Bastrop in the second round.
The strength of the team this year is the experience the returning starters, according to Vige.
“We bring back a lot of experienced guys who have played in big games,” Vige said. “We have good leadership on this team.
The Bobcats captured the 2018 Class 3-A state championship after going 5-6 in 2017.
“This group of seniors has a great work ethic,” the coach said. “They come in ready to work with great attitudes – they want to play football every day.”
The Bobcat offense finished with 3,197 yard rushing last season and return eight starters on that side of the ball, including senior quarterback Simeon Ardoin who passed for 1,103 yards with 13 touchdowns and rushed for 475 yards and five touchdowns.
Ardoin has thrown for over 2,000 yards in his career with 24 touchdowns.
The dual threat quarterback has also rushed for over 1,000 yards and 16 scores his first three seasons.
The running game will be strong again with fullback Deon Ardoin (933 yards, 12 TDs) and wingback Jeoul Hill (873 yards, 14 TDs).
Deon Ardoin and Hill has combined for 4,494 rushing yards and 48 touchdowns for their career.
Landen Higginbotham, Bryson Poullard and Joseph could see time at the tailback position.
Dylan Guillory (27 yards per catch, four touchdowns), Jaheim Mitchell and Treylon Cooper (23-348, 2 TDs) all return at wide receiver for the Bobcats.
Sophomore Ty’shun Joseph will also see time at the receiver spot.
The offensive line will be led by Trey Soileau, Dray Savoy, Sam Leblue, Dylan Darbonne and Hayden Darbonne.
“We have six three year starters returning on offense which is a huge benefit for us,” Vige said. “We have some quality athletes to share the ball.
“It is going to be a fun year to call the plays and see what they can do.”
The Bobcats return eight starters on defense including linebackers Jacoby Collins (122 tackles) and Dedric Vigers (103 tackles).
Bryson Poullard and Fred Guillory will also play vital roles on defense along with Myles Woods (four quarterback sacks), Kevontdraay Savoy (seven tackles for loss) and Thomas Oglesby.
Leblue, Dylan Darbonne and Hayden Darbonne will also provide depth on the defensive line.
“On defense, I think we move good to the ball,” Vige said. “If the guys up front can play like they are supposed to, that will allow the guys in the back to be aggressive and make plays.”
Mitchell (four interceptions, seven pass break-ups) returns in the talented secondary along with Shaun Hudson (eight pass break-ups) and Zac Suire (three interceptions).
According to Vige, Joseph and Terrance Shillow are competing for the other cornerback spot and both will see action.
COVID-19 forced the absence of spring practices, something Vige said is a vital part of the preparation for each season.
“Going into each spring, we evaluate the younger players and the practices really help them,” Vige said. “Then this summer we also missed a lot because we couldn’t do what we normally do so we have unanswered questions.”
With the coronavirus pandemic still evident in the state, the football season was delayed until at least Oct. 8 or possibly Oct. 15.
If the Bobcats can start with their third week of the schedule, Eunice would entertain Ville Platte.
A week later start would have the Bobcats visiting Breaux Bridge and Abbeville to begin the season.
The district battle will include Rayne, Washington-Marion, North Vermilion and LaGrange – if the Calcasieu Parish schools affected by Hurricane Laura in August can field a football team this season.
“We know every district game is important,” Vige said. “We expect battles from every team.”
Vige said he is fortunate to follow Johnny Bourque and Trosclair as he works to continue the winning Bobcat tradition.
“I want to help keep the ship sailing forward.”