Friday, May 23, 2008

2008 Team to Watch: St. Thomas Aquinas continues to look ahead to the 2008 high school football season. We're still a couple months away from the start of our expanded preseason national rankings release, but it's not too soon to whet your appetite with mini-previews of teams that are likely to figure very prominently on the national scene this season.

For the second time in three years, Ohio's Kirk Herbstreit Classic will play host to the defending Florida 5A state champion. In 2006, it was eventual Prep Poll champion Lakeland. This fall, Broward County power St. Thomas Aquinas will be on hand in Cincinnati to face Greater Catholic League power Elder in the opening game of the event.

Veteran coach George Smith has led the Raiders to the state final a remarkable 11 times in the past 17 years. They have four titles to show for it, including last year's 35-20 triumph over Osceola (Kissimmee).

Eight Division I signees have graduated, leaving only six starters back. But they include the state championship game MVP, quarterback Ryan Becker (6-0, 180). For the season, he completed 106 of 183 passes (58 percent) for 1,714 yards with 26 touchdowns and only four interceptions. His top target is senior Duron Carter, the 6-1, 170-pound son of former NFL great Cris Carter. Duron is looking for a big senior season after catching 22 passes for 361 yards and 8 touchdowns last year. Another weapon in the passing game will be 6-5, 210-pound senior Gabe Holmes, who can play both tight end and wide receiver.

Conor O'Neill (6-1, 195) brings leadership and experience to an otherwise young and untested defensive unit. The senior linebacker is coming off a 100-tackle season

St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla. )
Coach: George Smith (318-65, 31 years)

2007: 14-1, No. 19 in final National Prep Poll

Top returning players: WR Duron Carter (6-1, 170, several major offers, 361 receiving yards, 8 TDs); QB Ryan Becker (6-0, 180, 1,714 passing yards, 26 TDs, only 4 INTs); LB Conor O'Neill (6-1, 195, 100 tackles, good athlete)

Key losses: WR Philip Pierre-Louis (Auburn), OL Andrew Datko (Florida St.), DB Dorian Graham (Syracuse), DB Christian Thompson (Auburn), RB Jeremiah Harden (Syracuse), DB Rodney Gillis (La.-Lafayette), DB John Carr (Central Michigan)

All systems go: Receiver position; Overall talent level with at least 18 combined Division I prospects in senior and junior classes.

Questions must be answered: Both offensive and defensive lines are inexperienced

Toughest games: vs. Cincinnati Elder at Paul Brown Stadium (Aug. 30); vs. Cardinal Gibbons (Sept. 5); vs. Deerfield Beach (Oct. 17);

WESH TV Video: 5A state championship highlights vs. Osceola (Kissimmee) - 2007


Anonymous said...

St. Thomas Aquinas - stay home dont come to the Herbie this year.
we are sure you are a very good f-ball team BUT Middletown is NOT ans has not been for years and years. They were 2-5 in their league and 4-6 overall last year.

This will be one of the biggest mismatches of all time for Herbie.

There at least 20 teams in the Greater Cincinnati area that would demolish Middletown.

Dont look for much national status out of this game.

Naughts said...

STA is well aware of the mismatch... the inside tract to this matchup is because NFL great and currunt STA receivers coach Anthony Carter is a Middletown alumn...

John said...

St. Thomas Aquinas team name is Raiders and not the Saints as stated in the article.

Anonymous said...

Chris Carter, not the son of Anthony Carter

Anonymous said...

FLASH - Herbie has changed the STA game from Middletown OH. to Cincinnati Elder. It's OK to pack for the trip now.

Elder is a hardnose f-ball team. They are in the same league, GCL, as St. Xavier, Moeller, and LaSalle.

Elder was the team to end the 107 game win streak for Independance Charlotte NC. last year at the Herbie.

Naughts said...

Did these guys go to chit and then the hogs ate them??? STA was posted WAY back on 5-23!!! Give us a NEW team to watch... PLEASE!!!