The nation's leading producer in NFL Draft picks will once again be one of the nation's leading high school football teams, as St. Thomas Aquinas is back as a state title favorite in 2014, with a legitimate shot to take home a national title.
Rocco Casullo's Raiders squad boasts a talented, experienced group that will be solid at every facet of the game. Put simply, the team has very few weaknesses.
Last season in limited action, quarterback Jake Rizzo
threw for four touchdowns without being intercepted. He's back this year, and he'll be throwing to the nation's most talented group of wide receivers.
Senior Devante Peete
, a 6-foot-6, 200-pound specimen, caught five touchdowns last season. He ranks as the No. 186 recruit in the 247Composite
for the Class of 2015.
Sophomore Trevon Grimes
, another tall target at 6-4, is already a major Division I recruit. As if opposing secondaries didn't have enough to worry about, the Raiders added Sam Bruce
, a transfer from University, in the winter.
Bruce is one of the country's most explosive receivers regardless of class, and can line up wide or in the slot. The "Samborghini" is the perfect complement to the team's other receiving threats. Jawuan Harris
, a Florida Atlantic commit, is yet another tool in the offensive chest.
Taking over for the departed Madre London at running back is senior Deltron Sands
, who rushed for 336 yards last fall. He'll share carries with impact transfer Jordan Scarlett
, who also left University following the departure of head coach Roger Harriott.
Both should benefit from a big offensive line that features Colin Byrne
and Samuel Clausman
, both of whom recently gave verbal pledges to Syracuse.
The defense is almost equally talented, which says a lot. Defensive coordinator Bill Tierney will have plenty of pieces to work with, starting with sophomore defensive lineman Nicholas Bosa
Bosa is already ahead of older brother Joey (currently at Ohio State) in his development. As a sophomore, despite battling injuries, he made 10 sacks and 33 total tackles. After another solid offseason spent in the weightroom, he will terrorize opposing quarterbacks.
He'll be joined by Wyatt Ray
, another big, physical, seasoned lineman. Christopher Hart
, a linebacker at the next level, mostly play with his hand on the ground and gives the team another imposing defender up front.
The secondary has the chance to be elite. Rashard Causey
is a big-time cornerback recruit. Tyson Cisrow
is a hard-hitting safety with a good mix of size and speed. The same can be said of cornerback Damon Arnette
, yet another Raider with a bevy of major colleges knocking on his door.
If this team can survive an early-season matchup with American Heritage as well as a road game against Don Bosco Prep, it will be squarely in the discussion for a national title. As good as the team looks on paper, it will get even better as it develops on the field. Come December, Aquinas may yet again be a playoff buzz saw.
"I feel St. Thomas Aquinas has a strong chance to compete for and possibly win the Class 7A State Championship this season. The influx of key transfers coming in this off season has proven beneficial to the Raiders and I would be highly shocked if they are not seen in Orlando come middle of December."- Josh Wilson, FlaHSFootball.com (@FlaHSFootball)