High School Sports

St. Thomas Aquinas to play in postseason bowl series in Dallas

adiaz@miamiherald.com

St. Thomas Aquinas just became Broward County’s first team to win three consecutive state titles.

And they are not done for this season.

Aquinas has been chosen to play in the four-team Geico Bowl Series on Dec. 23 in Frisco, Texas at The Star training facility of the Dallas Cowboys.

The Raiders (12-2), who just won their 10th state championship all-time, would take on Utah powerhouse Bingham at 9:30 p.m. to kickoff the two-game event. Aquinas made the official announcement on Tuesday.

“Experience will be extremely valuable for us in this event,” St. Thomas Aquinas coach Roger Harriott said. “This is something that we’re looking forward to and hopefully we can set a precedent in regards to establishing a real national championship series.”

Aquinas is ranked No. 5 by USA Today after crushing Tampa Plant 45-6 this past Friday in the Class 7A state championship game in Orlando. Bingham is ranked No. 11 by USA Today and recently won Utah’s Class 5A championship.

The other game, which will kickoff prior to Aquinas’ game at 6 p.m., will feature Georgia 6A champion Valdosta against Arizona 6A champion Chandler High.

Both games will be televised on ESPNU.

The event is meant to serve as a reprisal of the State Bowl Championship Series that Florida Atlantic University hosted in 2014.

“It’s a privilege for St. Thomas Aquinas to play in this contest,” Aquinas’ Supervising Principal Monsignor Vincent Kelly said. “We’re so delighted to represent Broward County and the state of Florida in this event. Athletics is a wonderful aspect for the lives of students and it gives them excitement and energy not simply for the players, but for those that follow them. I just want to thank everybody involved in supporting athletics.”

St. Thomas Aquinas, which has fared well for the most part in recent years against out-of-state opponents, dropped an overtime game against top-ranked Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas on Sept. 30. That loss and an earlier narrow defeat against Booker T. Washington kept the Raiders from potentially being in position to win the school’s third national title.

Harriott said the team should have a healthy roster for the most part for the game outside of a couple of injuries. Defensive linemen Nik Bonitto (sprained ankle) and Coleman Crozier (knee) are likely out.

Bingham (14-0), which has won six state titles since 2006, participated in that event and lost an overtime thriller 34-28 to Miami Booker T. Washington. Florida teams swept that year’s event as Miami Central and Jacksonville Trinity Christian also defeated out-of-state opponents.

“[Bingham] has a strong winning tradition in Utah and do a great job establishing their running game and they are very disciplined and fundamentally sound,” Harriott said. “We’re looking forward to the matchup.”

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