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Fouts a natural fit at tight end for TMP

By AUSTIN COLBERT

acolbert@dailynews.net

Catching the football is a new thing for Thomas More Prep-Marian junior tight end Cameron Fouts, who spent most of the last two seasons playing on the offensive line.

"It's definitely exciting just to get your name announced for catching the ball," Fouts said. "But also, you got to be humble with the glory of getting good blocks and getting the running backs some yards, too."

Fouts has no issue blocking, something he did well last season. But at 6-foot, 185 pounds with wide receiver speed, Fouts is quickly proving he is a natural fit at tight end.

The plan was to move him from the offensive line to tight end last season, but with injuries rippling through the Monarch roster, TMP head football coach John Montgomery had no choice but to keep him, at least tentatively, on the offensive line.

"It was an unfortunate deal because with the athleticism that he has, he's a weapon that we want to try and utilize," Montgomery said. "We know that if we get him the ball he can make things happen for us as he showcased last week in the Ellsworth game. The only frustrating thing is we haven't always been able to get him the ball as much as we want to."

Fouts replaced stud Anthony Walters at tight end, who is now playing football at Ottawa University. Four games into the transition, and it's apparent Fouts is learning quickly, which isn't a surprise to him.

"I'm picking it up a lot easier because going to the line last year was just an emergency thing because of all the injuries," Fouts said. "So I kind of knew what I was doing last year, I just had to step away from it for a while because the team needed me to play line.

"But this year I've gotten my playbook and made sure I got caught up on my plays. It's going a lot easier."

Fouts wasn't exactly lighting it up in his first three games this season. Against Ellinwood, Clay Center and Larned, he managed a combined four catches for 56 yards and rushed for 42 yards on eight carries.

But last week in a 29-25 loss at Ellsworth, Fouts stepped up in a big way with four catches for 67 yards and two carries for 11 yards, many of which were key conversions for the Monarchs.

"Some of the catches he made were next-level type catches," TMP offensive coordinator James Harris said. "Those catches weren't just simple catches down the middle. It was third and 14 plays. He is making plays down the middle, getting us into first-down situations and helping us to sustain drives."

Fouts made his first big play on the Monarch's opening drive, and 11-yard run on fourth and 2 from the Ellsworth 18-yard line. The very next play junior running back Nick Schmidt finished the drive with a 7-yard touchdown run.

On the next TMP drive, Fouts made his longest catch of the season, a 35-yard grab on third and 15 that kept the drive alive.

His best catch came late in the first half on fourth and 3. Quarterback Max Megaffin's pass was low and at the feet of Fouts, who reached down and made a remarkable 11-yard snag to move the chains.

"We try to stay heavy with the run early and it just opened up play action," Fouts said. "With me, I got open on my first catch and it just got me going pretty well. Gave me some confidence."

Heading into today's 7 p.m. game against La Crosse at Lewis Field Stadium, Fouts has eight catches for 123 yards, averaging a little more than 15 yards per catch. He also has 53 yards on 10 rushes for a 5.3-yard average per carry.

The only thing he is missing is a touchdown, but that doesn't bother Fouts. He is proving to be the ultimate team player and keeps the goals of the team foremost on his agenda.

"He is a kid that is wiling to put in the work and is willing to move and play any position that we need him to play for the better of the team," Harris said. "One of the things we always talk about is how we can get him the ball more often. He's got some great potential and is going to continue to develop and continue to be a great offensive weapon for us."

The coaching staff would like to see Fouts get up to 200 pounds by the beginning of his senior season. An extra 15 pounds would make a big difference in his ability to block, and would also help him on the defensive side where he plays linebacker.

Combine that with his rare speed and athleticism for a player that size, and the coaches are excited about his potential should he reach the 200-pound target.

"It's my goal as well," Fouts said.

"Even though I'm a tight end I'm still kind of undersized with how I do blocking. It will help me out a lot better if I can keep my speed up as I gain weight. It just helps me so much more going up against those bigger D-linemen."