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Former Baseball: Trosclair honored after storybook title season

Kevin Foote, The Advertiser, Dec. 25, 2018


There was no hiding his true joy after coach Paul Trosclair’s Eunice Bobcats on the Class 3A state championship over Sterlington in New Orleans. (Photo: SCOTT CLAUSE/USA TODAY Network)

Oftentimes, big achievements are the sweetest when they’re the most unexpected.

If he didn’t believe that before, longtime Eunice High football coach Paul Trosclair is certainly convinced of that now.

And he’s got a huge smile to prove it.

When the 2018 season began, no one was talking state championship in Eunice.

Trosclair’s Bobcats were coming off a relatively lackluster 5-6 season and were only returning three on offense and six on defense.

More: Eunice offensive explosion produces first state title in 36 years

To make matters worse, Eunice was playing in arguably the toughest Class 3A league in the state.

And yet when the season ended, the unthinkable had taken place.

Not only did Eunice win, but that offense with more sophomores than returning starters put up 59 points in the 3A title game triumph over Sterlington in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

It was Eunice’s first state crown since 1982 and the first under Trosclair.

As a result, Trosclair is The Daily Advertiser’s 2018 All-Acadiana Coach of the Year for football.

“I still can’t believe it,” Trosclair said a week after the memorable win. “It was totally unexpected. I’m still pinching myself every day.”

There are so many aspects of Eunice’s state title that make it a feel-good tale, but none bigger than Trosclair’s own story.

More: Led by Simeon Ardoin, sophomores power Eunice’s state title run

In 2014, the lack of a state title on his resumé no longer mattered much to Trosclair and those around him. He was suddenly fighting for his life after being diagnosed with multiple myeloma cancer.

Naturally, the thought of never coaching again was real and powerful and discouraging.

“My stem cell doctor — she asked me if I was going to continue,” Trosclair said. “I said, ‘Yes.’ She said, ‘Well, most of my patients just kind of sit home.’

“They did put some doubt in my mind about my ability to do it, but I wanted to do it.”

So he leaned on his coaching staff and school community that loved him, even when he wasn’t able to make the full commitment he had his entire career.

“Then I also got frustrated because I had to miss a couple of practices with the treatments, and that made me wonder if I should keep on doing it,” he said. “But something kept me going.

“It’s hard to explain. I love coaching. It’s the one thing I felt enabled me to fight this illness, being around the coaches, the players and the community.”

His immune system was weak. His cases of pneumonia or the flu were more serious than for most people.

More: Easy to be happy for Eunice’s return trip to Dome

Until this season somehow.

That “Bobcat Magic” — as some began to call it — didn’t start with Avrey Lee’s incredible halfback TD pass under intense pressure in the state finals.

“It’s really been the Bobcat Magic year, because I haven’t been sick like I usually get,” Trosclair explained.

Another facet of the state title that made it even sweeter is his son, Trenon, being the secondary coach for the Bobcats.

When Trenon was the quarterback at Eunice in 2012, he promised his father a state title. The Bobcats were 11-0 and got upset in the state regional round.

“My son was quarterbacking,” he said, "‘Dad, I’m going to lead you to a state championship.’ When it didn’t happen, I figured it ain’t ever going to happen. It didn’t look good. Then he came back to coach with us and he really helped us a lot (in winning state title this year), so I think he fulfilled his goal.”

Coincidentally, the second round was Eunice’s toughest obstacle again, barely surviving Wossman 13-12 to advance.

“Week 2 was the game,” Trosclair said. “When I looked at the (playoff) bracket, I told the guys, ‘Week 2 is the game, guys. We’ve got to find a way.’”

More: Eunice’s Darbonne receives High Achiever recognition

It wasn’t easy. The Bobcats had to dig deep.

“We had three goalline stands in that game, which is unbelievable, because one is good enough,” he told. “At three different times, they had the ball inside the 10-yard line and they came away with no points.

“They had us backed up all night. The weather wasn’t bad. It was just one of those games, the way the ball bounces. We turned it over in the first series and they scored. Then we were backed up all night long. We battled so hard to win that game. That’s when I knew we had a chance.”

At that point, all those sophomores were no longer really sophomores.

Quarterback Simeon Ardoin, who wasn’t even listed on the preseason questionnaire Trosclair had filled out, had overcome injuries to lead the way, including three touchdowns in the finals.

Also not on the questionnaire was District 5-3A Defensive MVP Car’lin Vigers at safety. He wasn’t even playing football the year before.

It all worked out like a true dream season should for the Eunice community.

“Yes, the people here love football,” said Trosclair, who now has a career record of 238-103. “They’ve been so supportive. The thing about it is we got support from St. Ed’s too. It’s an unusual community. It’s a special community in that way.”

This wonderful gift of winning a state championship has erased the reality of battling cancer. That goal of sustaining a happy life through the pain continues.

More: Eunice’s Lee enjoys record night

“In my case, things could change any day with my health,” Trosclair said. “Nobody really knows. My diagnosis is that I have a high risk for a return of this illness, so I just try to enjoy every day as much as I can.

“You can be in remission, but right now, there’s no cure. They’ve found ways to get you to the point where you can maintain it. They’re managing it much better now.”

But out of the blue in 2018, Trosclair’s goal of winning his first state championship as a head coach has now been achieved.

In the best way he ever thought possible.

Athletic Network footnote by Dr. Ed Dugas  athleticnetwork@louisiana.edu 

Click here for Paul’s Athletic Network profile. He was a member of the 1974-76 USL baseball teams.

Click here for a photo of Paul and his 1976 baseball teammates.