Larry Blustein

SPRING SPOTLIGHT – St. Thomas Aquinas Is Back & Loaded With Talent

Larry Blustein
April 23, 2019 - 12:01 pm

When head coach Roger Harriott left Camping World Stadium last December, it was a feeling that many St. Thomas fans had not experienced.

The 7A state championship loss to Lakeland was unexpected and the sting took months to fade – it will never go away. Not here where standards are set.

From that moment, before the busses rolled into the Fort Lauderdale campus, the vision was indeed on this year. This was not the program that had dominated for so many years – with elite players and top-flight coaches.

What happened is everyone went back to work, looking at the things that they did against teams such as Miami Central and Lakeland in losses.

As seniors left and underclassmen began to take leadership, the process of making sure that what happened last year, does not repeat itself. This has NEVER been a team that let one player beat them. That is not in the makeup of these elite prospects, and with more speed training and a stepped up weight room, this spring has started to unfold.

While there are plenty of positions that need to be filled by the start of the season, you can guarantee that the Raiders fully expect to be in Daytona Beach in the second week of December finishing off business.

As the offense will go through changes – with new personnel jumping into the starting roll – look for the defense to make an impact and set the tone for the future.

Up front, there are 2020 prospects in defensive tackles Bobby Washington, Jamari Maybin and Derrick Gordon – as well as defensive ends Riyad Wilmot and Griffin Lampton.

Class of 2021 linemen include standout defensive end Tyreak Sapp, and tackles Boaz Saint-Vil and Adetola Daranijo.

The linebacker position is always competitive and strong – even when four athletes moved on to Power 5 programs.

Class of 2020 standouts Devon Betty, Penn State commitment Derek Wingo, heavily recruited American Heritage transfer Andy Garcia, D.J. Humes and Dontae Lunan. Class of 2021 talent Caden Martinez will also be in the mix.

If you look back over the past decade, the success in the defensive secondary has been amazing – with several advancing on to high level college and beyond.

The Class of 2020 is loaded – with Keion Smith, Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer first team All-State transfer Colby Dempsey, converted receiver Jahvante Royal and Damian Anderson.

The 2021 Class is also off the charts – with Tyson Russell, Isaiah Taylor,

American Heritage transfer Ja’Den McBurrows and Mar’Cellus Culbreath. There is also Class of 2022 rising prospect Jerrod Cameron.

THERE IS PLENTY OF TALENT ON OFFENSE

Every year, the success of this program on offense rests on the huge shoulders of the linemen.

This year will certainly be no exception with Class of 2020 standouts big time two-way prospect Marcus Dumervil, Marlon Martinez, Calvary Christian transfer Jahmari Sylvester and South Broward transfer Alonzo Missick.

Class of 2021 delivers Josh Sauickie and Class of 2022 boasts one of the best in the country in 6-5, 285-pound Julian Armella.

The running position returns prospects with very little varsity experience – except for South Broward transfer Travis Dixon, who was also a star linebacker. Many have no clue how good this young man is when healthy.

Also in the class are Brian Brewton,

Jeadon Henry and versatile Jaren Moss. The Class of 2021 features athletic Andrew Aguilar, Tyson Williams and fast-rising Class of 2022 prospect Anthony Hankerson.

On any state-rated team in south Florida, there is always going to be a solid receiving corps. Class of 2021 playmakers Marcus Rosemy, The’Andris Freeman and under-the-radar Ethan Corbijn. Are solid. Tight end Jake Ray is also a player who has a chance to be special.

Class of 2021 rising standouts Christian Opalsky and Quincy Skinner are impressive. So is 2022 prospect Mason Taylor.

The quarterback position. It has been a huge topic in the off season and continues into the spring – with 2020 Michael Neal, Class of 2021 talents Mason Polivka, Brady Dean and Matt O’Dowd. There is also future star Zion Turner who will be a sophomore next season.

As usual, the special teams are solid with kickers Noah Botaford and William Vold.

TRACKING THE CHAMPIONS

We began our series, looking at state championship game teams from 2018 with 2A state runner Champagnat Catholic, Chaminade-Madonna (3A) Cardinal Gibbons (5A), Miami Northwestern (6A), this week the Raiders and next week, new coach Dave Dunn and Christopher Columbus (8A). We will also continue to take a look at the contenders in south Florida throughout the spring and summer.

SPRING SPOTLIGHT

Throughout the spring and summer – we will continue taking a look at several south Florida programs.

Click on the link to check them all out!

2A – Hialeah Champagnat Lions. https://wqam.radio.com/blogs/larry-blustein/spring-spotlight-champagnat-...

3A – Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna Lions. https://wqam.radio.com/blogs/larry-blustein/spring-spotlight-can-chaminade-madonna-make-it-3-straight

5A – Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons Chiefs. https://wqam.radio.com/blogs/larry-blustein/spring-spotlight-5a-champ-cardinal-gibbons-will-be-tested-2019

6A – Miami Northwestern Bulls. https://wqam.radio.com/blogs/larry-blustein/spring-spotlight-northwester...

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