A national ranking is nothing new to St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
, which has been one of the elite football programs in Florida for many years. So it’s not surprising that the Raiders climbed into the Xcellent 25 presented by the Army National Guard this week at No. 22.
Some thought that St. Thomas Aquinas, which two years was crowned the national champion, might be a little down by its standards this season after graduating several key starters. But the Raiders are proving they again are a force to reckon with nationally as well as in the Sunshine State.
Following a season-opening 31-3 win over Skyline (Dallas) in Texas on Labor Day, St. Thomas Aquinas returned home and crushed a strong Boyd Anderson (Lauderdale Lakes) team 52-13 in a matchup of two of the top-ranked teams in South Florida. Those two impressive wins vaulted the Raiders to No. 22 in this week’s rankings.
Quarterback Jacob Rudock
, who has verbally committed to Iowa, completed 9-of-16 passes for 239 yards and three touchdowns to lead the potent Raiders offense.
It was the third-most points ever allowed by a Boyd Anderson team.2. Dark Side of defending champs emerges:
Defending Class 6A state champion Miramar’s defense is nicknamed the ‘Dark Side’ but after giving up 42 points in a close season-opening loss to DeSoto (Texas), some were questioning if Miramar
would be a state championship-caliber team this year. The Patriots silenced their critics last Thursday night with a 20-8 home win against Everglades. Miramar’s defense forced six fumbles and registered seven sacks while not allowing any points in the victory.3. Sending a message: Dade Christian (Miami)
alerted everyone in the state that it is a team to watch when the Crusaders defeated defending Class 1B state champion Glades Day 20-0 in Week 2. It was the first time in six years that Glades Day, long a small-school power in Florida, had been shut out in a game. Dade Christian showed that win was no fluke by clobbering Upperroom Christian (Lauderhill) 46-0 last Friday to improve to 3-0 despite sitting a few starters who were nursing injuries. Upperroom could muster only 28 yards total offense against the Crusaders.
4. The next Jacory Harris?:
Miami-Dade County power Northwestern (Miami)
won the Class 6A state championship three years ago behind the outstanding quarterback play of Jacory Harris, now the starting QB for the Miami Hurricanes. Northwestern fans are comparing current QB Teddy Bridgewater
to Harris, and his performance last week in a 45-19 win against district rival Hialeah is an example why Bridgewater is drawing the comparisons. Bridgewater completed 15-of-24 passes for 342 yards and four touchdowns, three of them to senior Dominique Rhymes, who is 6-5 and 230 pounds and had 147 yards receiving in the victory.5. Turning things around:
Four teams in Broward County are making their fans forget last year. Hallandale
was winless last season but is off to a 2-1 start. Cooper City
, which won only one game last year, already has doubled that win total. Pompano Beach
already has matched its two-win season of 2009, and Piper (Sunrise)
is 3-0, matching its win total of last season.Top performers
* Javan Shashaty passed for 343 yards and four touchdowns to lead Calvary Christian Academy (Fort Lauderdale)
to a 44-27 win against St. Andrew’s (Boca Raton).
* Tavarius Walker rushed for 200 yards on 13 carries and scored two touchdowns to lead Ely (Pompano Beach)
to a 41-15 win against Taravella (Coral Springs).
* South Plantation (Plantation)
quarterback John Franklin completed 14-of-22 passes for 325 yards and threw for two touchdowns in a 26-24 win against Hallandale.
* Kevin Grooms
of South Broward (Hollywood)
rushed for 182 yards and two touchdowns and returned a punt for a touchdown in a 58-26 win against Douglas (Parkland).
This week’s top matchups in South Florida
* Nationally ranked St. Thomas Aquinas and Fort Lauderdale cross-town rival Cardinal Gibbons
meet Friday night in a game billed as the Catholic Bowl, which first was played in 1964.
* Southridge (Miami)
clashes with South Dade (Homestead)
in a matchup of two strong defensive teams as Southridge attempts to remain unbeaten against one-beaten South Dade.
* The top matchup in Palm Beach County will feature two unbeaten teams when Park Vista (Lake Worth)
visits Palm Beach Central (Wellington)
in a key district game.
Recruiting news: Glades Central (Belle Glade)
wide receiver Davonte Allen, one of the top prospects in Palm Beach County, said he plans to take an official visit to South Florida next week during Glades Central’s bye week. Allen has received nine offers, and USF, West Virginia and Marshall have been recruiting him the strongest. . . . Highly touted linebacker Kenneth Hankerson
of St. Thomas Aquinas did not take a planned visit to Florida State last weekend because of personal reasons, but plans to visit FSU at a later date. He also plans to visit Alabama, LSU, Tennessee and Miami.Dorsey’s digs:
Florida has been blessed with many outstanding coaches and one of the most popular coaches over the past half-century is Sam Budnyk, who spent his entire 46-year coaching career at Cardinal Newman (West Palm Beach)
before retiring six years ago. Budnyk produced numerous players who went on to play in college, including five who made it to the NFL -- John Carney, Craig Erickson, Chris T. Jones, Abram Elam and Jacoby Ford. The school is celebrating the football program’s 50th anniversary this week and just released its All-Newman 50-Year Team that includes 103 players. Most of them plan to attend festivities this weekend and attend Newman’s home game Friday night against Pahokee. Some players are coming from as far away as Denver, Seattle and Chicago. Budnyk said the thought of reuniting with so many players he coached, some of whom he has not seen in several years, has made him “very emotional” this week, but injected some humor while talking about it. “Some, I imagine, aren’t as sleek and graceful as they were in high school,” he told me Monday.Steve Dorsey, who covers South Florida football for MaxPreps.com, is a freelance writer based in West Palm Beach, Fla. He has covered the South Florida high school sports scene for the past 29 years. He also is a contributing writer for American Football Monthly and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.