By Jake Mawhinney and Isabella Longo
MAR 8, 2019
Saint Thomas Aquinas High School (STA) is known across the country for its great athletic program, which is led by Athletic Director George F. Smith. STA has a plethora of athletes who have moved on to become professionals. The program that stands out most is football, which produces future NFL players each year. The phenomenal coaching staff consists of football masterminds and retired NFL players. These coaches know what it takes to go professional, and they pass it along to these young athletes through training.
The STA football team has always been a winning team, and this year didn’t disappoint. Athletic Director George F. Smith, told Raider Review, “[They] had a very, very, very good group of young men that were practicing. Especially, [they] had good leadership from the senior class.” This combination set the Aquinas Raiders up for success. They had a great first home game against DeMatha, which is a high school from Hyattsville, Maryland. The Raiders came in as underdogs and were not expected to win, but they used this as fuel to disprove those predictions. They dominated the game from the first minute and tore apart the strong DeMatha team with an end-score of 38-0, according to the STA website. The Raiders continued their spectacular play in the next three games outscoring their opponents with an overall score of 149-6. They looked unstoppable in their first four games, but their fifth game was the biggest rivalry in South Florida, Miami Central versus Saint Thomas Aquinas. The game kicked off on September 21, 2018, and the stands were packed. The first three quarters were very close and the score went back and forth, but Miami Central ran away with the game in the fourth quarter, defeating the Aquinas Raiders 43-27. This defeat was hard to swallow, but the Raiders didn’t let it stop them. From here they finished off the rest of the year undefeated, with a regular season record of 9-1.
The regional semifinal and final were both blowouts with the STA Raiders defeating Fort Lauderdale High School 51-0, and beating Dwyer 35-0. The next game would be the state semifinal against Venice High School who knocked Saint Thomas out of the running last year. This year the Raiders were playing with a vengeance. The game belonged to the Raiders from the start and finished with a score of 38-18 in favor of the Raiders. Finally, they were off to the state finals against the Lakeland Dreadnaughts. The game was held at Orlando’s Camping World Stadium, and hundreds of students, from both schools, made the trip to support their teams. There is a lot of history behind this game, considering that the two teams have met four times in previous state finals, and the Lakeland Dreadnaughts won 3 of the 4 games. During this game, the Raiders didn’t look like the usual winning team. Coach Smith pointed out that, overall, the Raiders could have played a better game. The game was plagued with costly mistakes that affected the final score. In the end, the Raiders lost 33-20, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Raiders tallied another great season with a final record of 13 wins and 2 losses.
Feature Photo: Muñoz Photography