St. Thomas Aquinas returned to state championship status this past football season.
The Raiders announced Thursday they are making a bold move to get back to national championship contention this fall.
Aquinas, winner of national titles in 2008 and 2010, will take on reigning national champion John Curtis Christian on Sept. 13 at the Mercedez-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.
The matchup, which will occur in Week 3 of Florida’s high school football regular season, is part of the third annual Allstate Sugar Bowl Prep Showcase and will be televised regionally by Fox Sports. It will be part of a doubleheader following a game between New Orleans Jesuit and Covington (La.) St. Paul’s.
St. Thomas Aquinas athletic director George Smith said coverage of the game could expand to a national telecast.
The game is the latest addition to a challenging schedule for Aquinas that already includes an opening-week contest against Miami Northwestern on Saturday, Aug. 31, at 7 p.m. at Sun Life Stadium.
“We felt this was a great opportunity, and this is a chance for our players to go to one of the most historic cities in the country and see how they have recovered from the hurricane,” Smith said. “Playing in the Superdome is an opportunity that most people will never have again.”
St. Thomas Aquinas won its seventh state championship in Class 7A last season and has gone 7-1 in recent years against out-of-state opponents.
Its impressive run during that stretch includes victories against national powerhouses Concord De La Salle (Calif.), Camden County (Ga.), Dallas Skyline and Prattville (Ala.). The lone defeat came last season at home against Don Bosco Prep (N.J.).
John Curtis High of River Ridge, La., will enter the upcoming season on a 28-game winning streak and finished last season ranked No. 1 nationally in seven of the nine national polls. John Curtis has won 25 state titles, including back-to-back titles. Last season, the Patriots beat Tampa Plant in the Sugar Bowl Prep Showcase. Tallahassee Lincoln, the team Aquinas defeated for the state title in December, also participated in it last year.
Over the past five years, the Raiders have won out-of-state games at professional and college venues such as Cowboys Stadium (Arlington, Texas), Ohio State University and Paul Brown Stadium (Cincinnati). Playing in the Superdome, which hosted Super Bowl XLVII in February, and in New Orleans is something Aquinas coach Rocco Casullo believes will be a valuable experience for his players.
“Games like this benefit you down the road in a season,” Casullo said. “If you stay healthy, you can correct any mistakes early and get into a good groove like we did last season.”
A dream girls’ basketball matchup between Orlando Dr. Phillips and Dillard that could end the debate over the No. 1 team in Florida might happen after all.
The MaxPreps No. 1 Dr. Phillips (29-3) and No. 2 Dillard (28-2) didn’t meet during the regular season, but hopes of the reigning state champions squaring off were revived with both accepting bids to the National High School Invitational in Maryland April 4-6.
“A lot of people wanted to see us against Dr. Phillips this year so it would be a big game.” said Dillard two-time Class 5A Player of the Year Kayla Wright. “Both teams are very talented. We lost in the first round when I was a freshman so we really want to make a statement and win it this year. We’re taking it pretty seriously.”
Seedings and matchups will be announced at a later date.
Dillard is coming off a fourth consecutive Class 5A state championship and eighth overall under Marcia Pinder, and Dr. Phillips (8A) captured its second consecutive state crown.
Archbishop Spalding (Md.) (28-1) and Life Center Academy (N.J.) (28-2) round out the girls’ field. ESPN will televise the tournament, which will be held at Georgetown Preparatory School’s Hanley Center.
Back-to-back Class 7A boys’ state champion Pompano Beach Blanche Ely (27-1), basking in a school-best No. 8 ranking by MaxPreps and No. 9 in the ESPNHS Powerade Fab 50, will also vie for a mythical national championship as part of the NHSI boys’ field.
Some of the state’s best boys’ volleyball teams will face an early season test this weekend when they compete in the Smoothie King Invitational on Friday and Saturday.
The tournament will be played at Miami Ransom Everglades and Miami Belen Jesuit on Friday, with the finals at Ransom on Saturday.
The event will feature four of the eight teams that made the state tournament last season.
Defending state champion Orlando Bishop Moore and runner-up Miami Sunset highlight the field along with Broward County semifinalists Archbishop McCarthy and South Broward.
Three other teams that advanced to the round of 16 last year are in the tournament — Douglas, Miami Palmetto and Lake Worth Park Vista.
• American Heritage d. Nova 25-17, 17-25, 25-19, 25-22: Greg Holodak 11 kills, 2 service points, ace, 16 digs, 6 blocks. Tyler Gordon 22 digs, assist, 4 blocks, 11 kills, 5 service points, 2 aces. Zach Kasten 37 assists, 2 kills, 4 service points. AH 1-3.
• Pine Crest d. Western 25-17, 25-22, 25-22: Steven Graf 28 assists, ace, 6 digs. Alex Britton 28 digs, 3 aces, 2 assists. PC 3-1
SAINT ANDREWS 7, CALVARY CHRISTIAN 6
WP: Grecz. LP: C Chang (7-2). CC 10-2
LATE TUESDAY — CHAMINADE 4, CARDINAL GIBBONS 3
WP: McCabe CG 5K (5-3). LP: White (5-2). Top performers: Sorg 1-2, triple, run, RBI. Paulo 2-3, single, 2 RBI
• Archbishop McCarthy 5, Calvary Christian 2: Andrew Puglisi won No. 1 singles 8-5. Bruno Dedeschi won No. 2 singles 8-4. Chris Wheeler-Sabatino won No. 3 singles 8-6. Nunez/Mendez (CC) won No. 1 doubles 8-6
• Monarch 4, Pompano 3: Caio Henriques won No. 1 singles 8-4. Tyler Kruger won No. 2 singles 8-0. Daniel Gridi won No. 4 singles 8-3. Henriques/Kruger won No. 1 doubles 8-4
• Calvary Christian 4, Archbishop McCarthy 3: Emily Groeneveld won No. 1 singles 8-0. Shelby Groeneveld won No. 2 singles 8-1. Kristi Pitts won No. 4 singles 8-4. Groeneveld /Groeneveld won No. 1 doubles 8-0. Jessica Menendez/Miriam Castillo won No. 2 doubles 8-3
• Monarch 7, Pompano 0: Kendra Bunch won No. 1 singles 8-5. Dominique Henry won No. 2 singles 8-1. Giovanna de Almeida won No. 3 singles 8-0. Bunch/Henry won No. 1 doubles by default. De Almeida/Jennifer Nguyen won No. 2 doubles 8-0
GIRLS’ WATER POLO
• Westminster Academy 28, Cooper City 13: Caroline Israels 11 goals. Mary Elizabeth Mahoney 5 goals. Kelly Chmura 8 goals. WA 7-0
BOYS’ WATER POLO
• Westminster Academy 8, Cooper City 17: Brandon Bogumill 5 goals. Lucas Gonzalez 3 goals. Jason Woodburn 3 goals. WA 1-6
TRACK & FIELD
• Late Wednesday — Fort Lauderdale City Championships - Girls’ results - Team scores: 1.St. Thomas Aquinas 212, 2. Calvary Christian 92, 3. Pine Crest 79, 4. Fort Lauderdale 78, 5. South Florida HEAT 44. Shakima Wimbley (Dill) won 100m, 200m, 400m. Morgan Rodriguez (CG) won 800m. Julia Montgomery (PC) won 1600m. Alexa Cruz won 3200m. Toria Levy (STA) won 100 hurdles. Adanaca Brown (URC) won 300 hurdles. St. Thomas Aquinas won 400 relay. St. Thomas Aquinas won 1600 relay. Pine Crest won 3200 relay. Narinah Jean-Baptiste (STA) won high jump. Amanda Gale (CalvChr) won pole vault. Clare Jacques (FtL) won long jump. Nastolgia Smith (STA) won triple jump. Shanell Atkins (STA) won shot put. Isabella Luke (WA) won discus. Boys results – Team scores: 1. St. Thomas Aquinas 191, 2. Fort Lauderdale 124, 3. Westminster Academy 94, 4. Calvary Christian 84, 5. Cardinal Gibbons 44. Lamark Campbell (FtL) won 100m, 200m. Andrew James (WA) won 400m. Matthew Butler (STA) won 800m, 1600m. Manuel Velasquez (STA) won 3200m. Jordan Washington (STA) won 110 hurdles. Ibrahim Dodo (STA) won 300 hurdles. Fort Lauderdale won 400 relay. St. Thomas Aquinas won 1600 relay. St. Thomas Aquinas won 3200 relay. Stefan Duvivier (CG) won high jump. Matthew Ryan (STA) won pole vault. Jordan Cabral (CalvChr) won long jump, triple jump. Jerome Grey (WA) won shot put. Ryan Crozier (STA) won discus.
• North Broward 15, Oxbridge 0: Amanda Graboski 8 yd pass TD, 5 rush TD, XPT (10) pass, 81 yds passing, 66 yds rushing. Adrianna Dubay 8 yd receiving TD. Yasmin Ruffel-Smith safety. Charlie Sylvester XPT reception. Teddi Inkeles INT. NB 2-0
Stranahan vs. Fort Lauderdale (Home), 6:30
Blanche Ely vs. Miramar (MIR), 6:30
Cooper City vs. Western (WES), 6:30
American Heritage vs. Coral Springs Charter (AHP), 6
Summit Christian vs. Archbishop McCarthy (AMC), 7
Pinecrest Physical Therapy South Florida SlamFest at Palmetto Bay Park – Blue bracket: Belleview vs. Naples Barron Collier, noon; American Heritage-Delray vs. Tampa Chamberlain, noon; Okeechobee vs. Kissimmee Osceola, noon; Belleview vs. Melbourne, 2; Western vs. Tampa Chamberlain, 2; Osceola vs. Key West, 2; Barron Collier vs. Melbourne, 4; Western vs. American Heritage-Delray, 4; Gulliver vs. LaBelle, 4; Okeechobee vs. Key West, 4; Gulliver vs. Lake Worth Park Vista, 6; LaBelle vs. Park Vista, 8; Grey bracket: Plantation American Heritage vs. Charlotte, noon; Cooper City vs. Westminster Christian, noon; American Heritage vs. Bishop Snyder, 2; Palmetto vs. Orlando Timber Creek, 2; Charlotte vs. Bishop Snyder, 4; Palm Beach Gardens vs. Cooper City, 6; Timber Creek vs. Palm Beach Central, 6; Westminster Christian vs. Palm Beach Gardens, 8; Palmetto vs. Palm Beach Central, 8; White bracket: Deerfield Beach vs. Naples Gulf Coast, noon; Gulf Coast vs. Marathon, 2; Deerfield Beach vs. Marathon, 4.
Chaminade-Madonna vs. Monsignor Pace (Pace), 4
Stranahan vs. Fort Lauderdale (Home), 6:30
North Broward Prep vs. Hollywood Hills (Home), 4
Boyd Anderson vs. Monarch (MON), 4
McArthur vs. South Broward (SB), 4
Smoothie King Invitational at Ransom – Pool A: Sunset vs. Killian, 2; South Broward vs. Ransom Everglades, 3:15; Ransom Everglades vs. Killian, 4:30; Sunset vs. South Broward, 5:45; South Broward vs. Killian, 7; Sunset vs. Ransom, 8:30; Pool C: Florida Christian vs. Coral Reef, 2; Chaminade vs. Tampa Berkeley Prep, 3:15; Coral Reef vs. Chaminade, 4:30; Florida Christian vs. Berkeley Prep, 5:45; Florida Christian vs. Chaminade, 7; Coral Reef vs. Berkeley Prep, 8:30; At Belen – Pool B: Orlando Bishop Moore vs. Varela, 2; Archbishop McCarthy vs. Belen, 3:15; Belen vs. Varela, 4:30; Bishop Moore vs. Archbishop McCarthy, 5:45; McCarthy vs. Varela, 7; Belen vs. Bishop Moore, 8:30; Pool D: Palmetto vs. Douglas, 2; Southwest vs. Lake Worth Park Vista, 3:15; Douglas vs. Park Vista, 4:30; Southwest vs. Palmetto, 5:45; Palmetto vs. Park Vista, 7; Southwest vs. Douglas, 8:30.
Deerfield Beach vs. Coconut Creek (CC), 6
Monarch vs. Coral Glades (Home), 4:30
Cypress Bay vs. University School (US), 4:30
Everglades vs. Hollywood Hills (Home), 4:30
Cooper City vs. Nova (Home), 6
Miramar vs. Pembroke Pines Charter (PPC), 4:30
Zion Lutheran vs. Pompano Beach (PB), 4:30
BOYS’ WATER POLO
Nova vs. Fort Lauderdale (Home), 7:30
Cypress Bay vs. Coral Springs (Fort Lauderdale Pool), 5:30
GIRLS’ WATER POLO
Nova vs. Fort Lauderdale (FTL), 4:30
Coral Springs vs. Cypress Bay (FTL), 4:30
Boyd Anderson vs. Blanche Ely (ELY), 4:30
Pembroke Pines Charter vs. Coconut Creek (Creek), 4:30
Deerfield Beach vs. Coral Springs (Home), 4:30
Cooper City vs. Plantation (Home), 4:30
South Broward vs. South Plantation (SP), 4:30
Flanagan vs. Stranahan (STR), 4:30
Boynton Beach vs. Taravella (TAR), 4
Boca Raton vs. St. Thomas Aquinas (STA), 5
S. Plantation vs. Calvary Christian (CCA), 5
Pinecrest Physical Therapy South Florida SlamFest at Palmetto Bay Park – Consolations: White bracket consolations at Gulliver: At Palmetto Bay Park – White bracket final: Blue bracket final: Grey bracket final:
Smoothie King Invitational at Ransom – Copper and Bronze semifinals: Copper and Bronze consolations: Copper and Bronze finals: Gold and Silver semifinals: Silver consolations and finals: Gold consolations and finals: