On Oct. 5 last year, fresh off a 27-24 loss to Miramar,
St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
stood at 3-2 and had lost three of its last six games dating back to 2011 -- a very un-Aquinian stretch of games for the state power.
At that point, the season turned around. Aquinas rattled off 10 consecutive victories, highlighted by a 17-point win over then No. 1-ranked Manatee
and punctuated by a 41-25 win over Lincoln
to capture the Class 7A state title.
This year's Aquinas squad should more closely resemble the Raiders that ended the season, rather than the ones that started it. See the entire Preseason Xcellent 25
Aquinas will be strong in the trenches, which should set the tone for the team's play on both sides of the ball.
returns to anchor a unit that will feature fellow seniors Ryan Crozier
, Tyler Dever
and Kai Ashbeer
, all of whom saw time last year.
That should make running back Madre London's
job much easier. A big, physical back originally from Arkansas, London will be the team's primary ballcarrier after splitting time with Fred Coppet a year ago.Corey Holmes
, a coveted recruit, is back at receiver. He'll be a valuable asset for whichever quarterback, most likely Wade Freebeck
or Jake Rizzo
, wins the job.
On the other side of the ball, Florida-bound Anthony Moten
and Nicholas Bosa
, who captured MaxPreps National Freshman of the Year honors
last fall, have the potential to dominate in the trenches. Moten is a big-bodied tackle that commands double teams and Bosa is explosive and a sure-tackler, and already well ahead of brother Joey's development.Al Harris
gives the team some experience in the secondary. The linebackers will be entirely new, as will the team's defensive coordinator, Bill Tierney, who will take over the duty from head coach Rocco Casullo.See the entire St. Thomas Aquinas photo gallery
"Looking at St. Thomas Aquinas, which has won two state championships in the last three years, you can clearly see just how smoothly the transition has been from George Smith to Rocco Casullo. I think the biggest tests this year that will set Aquinas apart are the game against John Curtis in the Superdome and against the Class 8A state runner-up, Cypress Bay. If they can acquire wins in both those games, that would not only boost their national stock, but again line them up as the possible team to represent Class 7A from the south in the state finals once again. The one thing they don't have to worry about? Having to run into Manatee in the playoffs."- Josh Wilson, floridahsfootball.com