ERATH — After stumbling out of the gate last year, the Erath Bobcats caught their stride and had a hot hand during the second half of the season.
One of the key cogs from that team, all-state safety Lane Toups, returns for his senior campaign, which will see him pull double-duty on both sides of the football.
“Last year I started on defense only and I did pretty good,” Toups said. “But four of our starting wide receivers graduated and I was asked to step up, which isn’t a problem for me.”
Toups is expected to be one of the top targets for Luke LeBlanc, the first quarterback in school history to pass for more than 2,000 yards in a season.
“No doubt, I’m excited about playing offense,” Toups said. “I always wanted to do that but never got the chance until now, so I’m excited to see what happens.
“Luke and I have been playing together since we were in elementary school. For the spring game, our chemistry seemed to be nice. We connected on a lot of passes.”
Toups hopes the Bobcats can turn the tables from last year, which began inauspiciously.
“We started 0-5 then went 4-1 in district,” the senior said. “The problem last year was we had the puzzle, we just couldn’t put it together.
“This year we have the puzzle, and we’ve already put it together. Everything has been set how we need it since the spring, so I think we’ll have a better outlook.”
As a junior, Toups recorded an impressive 90 tackles.
“My biggest thing on defense was we played a lot of run-heavy teams,” he said, “so with me being able to tackle in open space and shut down drives — that’s my big thing.”
Erath appeared to be on its way to a monumental upset in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs but a subpar second half allowed highly-favored Lake Charles College Prep to advance.
“We had them 14-0 in the first half,” Toups said.
“But they put up four straight touchdowns on us. Even though we were the No. 27 seed and they were No. 6, that game should have been in the bag.”
Toups mentioned a trio of new starters who could make an impact.
“Ian Harrington (WR/DB), Tremaine Fauntleroy (OLB), and Lane LeBlanc (RB/OLB) are guys coming up that have a lot of talent,” he said.