St. Thomas Aquinas vs Centennial is Must See TV

When the Yurview Arizona high school football schedule came out, the September 29th match-up was quickly noted as must see TV.

East Meets West

The St. Thomas Aquinas Raiders hail from Fort Lauderdale, Florida and come in with a record of (3-0). The Centennial Coyotes of Peoria, Arizona have an unblemished mark of (5-0) after the first half of the season. Kickoff is set for Friday 7:00 PM MST at Centennial High School.

St. Thomas Aquinas (3-0) is ranked in the top 5 nationally in all of the polls and as high as #3. The Raiders have won the last 3 Florida 7A state championships, the first school from Broward County to accomplish the feat. This season, they are trying to become the 6th Florida school to win 4 straight state titles.

NFL Pipeline

Since 1992 St. Thomas Aquinas has won 10 state championships, including 7 in the last 10 years. The Raiders were also recognized as national champions in 2008 and 2010. S.T.A. has the most alums on current NFL rosters with 12. That list includes Geno Atkins and Gio Bernard of the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Charger Joey Bosa.

Last year, the Raiders had 20 seniors who are now on division 1 college football teams. This season St. Thomas Aquinas, led by head coach and alum Roger Harriott, is fully loaded once again. 23 players have at least one offer from a Division 1 school. 6 S.T.A. seniors rank in the top 100 prospects in the Sunshine state.

All in the Family

Two of the leaders for the Raiders have names that should sound familiar to football fans, senior cornerbacks Al Blades and Asante Samuel. Blades (6’0” 170 lbs) is committed to Miami where he will follow in the footsteps of family royalty. Blades’ late father Al Sr., starred for the Hurricanes as did Al Jr’s uncles Bennie and Brian Blades. Samuel (5’10” 166 lbs) will play his college ball at Florida State. Samuel is the son of Asante Sr., a former NFL all pro cornerback who won 2 Super Bowls with the New England Patriots.

Other key seniors for St. Thomas Aquinas include WR Elijah Moore (Georgia commit), OLB Rocky Shelton (Duke), and OLB Nik Bonitto. Bonitto is uncommitted, but has offers from Alabama, Oklahoma, Florida State, Auburn, and Louisville. S Trenell Troutman, DT Dejmi Dumervil Jean, and OT Tyler Steen have all committed to Louisville. Junior OLB Anthony Solomon is entertaining offers from Alabama, Michigan, Clemson, Florida State, and Miami.

The St. Thomas Aquinas coaching staff has quite a roll call as well. Jason Taylor, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame two months ago, is in his first year coaching the defensive line. Sam Madison, a 4 time Pro Bowl performer is heading up the defensive backs. Both Taylor and Madison were teammates with the Miami Dolphins and have sons that are freshman at S.T.A. Rod Payne, a former NFL lineman who played collegiately at Michigan, coaches the offensive line.

Centennial Stars

Centennial, led by head coach Richard Taylor, boasts some college talent as well. The Coyotes are led by senior running back Zidane Thomas and senior cornerback Dominique Hampton. Hampton (6’2” 185 lbs) committed to Washington after being named the most valuable defensive back at the Huskies camp this past summer.

Hampton, a playmaker, returned 2 interceptions for touchdowns in the first game of the season against Desert Edge. Thomas (5’10” 205 lbs) committed to Boise State after rushing for 2,329 yards and 22 touchdowns his junior year. 2 weeks ago Thomas’ skill set was on full display to a national Yurview audience, when he ran for 316 yards and 2 touchdowns in the Coyotes win over Pinnacle.

Thomas, who grew up in Florida, is hoping to take center stage once again on Friday night, but it won’t be easy against a St. Thomas Aquinas defense that features 9 Division 1 recruits.

Friday night will feature the best that Florida and Arizona has to offer. With a field littered with future college stars, ultimately the big winner will be the Yurview audience. Get your popcorn ready, should be a fun one.