Technically it may not have counted but when you’re the No. 1 ranked high school football team in the nation, style points mean plenty and the St. Thomas Aquinas Raiders wracked up plenty of those on Thursday night.
Taking on Dillard in a Kickoff Classic at Dillard High School, the Raiders looked in midseason form as they rolled up 38 first-half points before head coach Roger Harriott emptied the bench in a running clock second half as St. Thomas rolled to a 51-0 thrashing of the Panthers.
“The idea coming into tonight was to come out and operate at peak efficiency while building team camaraderie at the same time and we managed to do that with a great first half performance,” said Harriott. “Everything was working.”
Quarterback and Florida commit Jake Allen looked as sharp as the rest of his team, completing 9-of-12 passes for 97 yards and three touchdowns before getting pulled following his 14 yard scoring toss to Trevon Grimes to put STA up 31-0 with 3:33 left in the first half.
Allen led the Raiders on a perfectly executed 75-yard, 11 play drive to open the game before hitting running back Mike Epstein, an Illinois commit, for a 1-yard touchdown pass.
Allen also found Michael Harley wide open over the middle for a 38-yard scoring strike late in the first quarter that made it 24-0.
“We really came out efficiently and moved the ball really well and that’s the way you want to start a game,” said Allen. “I thought I played well. As usual it doesn’t happen without a shout out to my O-line and my receivers. When everybody clicks togehter, everybody looks good”
The defense did its part as well as the Raiders held Dillard to just 31 total yards in the first half while forcing a pair of turnovers.
Tyler Dunning recovered a fumble on Dillard’s first play from scrimmage setting up a 24-yard Marco Salani field goal and on Dillard’s very next series, Asante Samuel picked off Panther quarterback Francoise Moise’s pass and returned it 35 yards for a pick six and 17-0 St. Thomas lead.
“Nothing complicated on the pick six,” said Samuel, just a junior who has Florida State, Ohio State and UCLA at the top of his list of schools and said he will make a commitment before his senior season. “He (Moise) telegraphed the throw all the way and I got a great jump on it. Nothing but green in front of me when I caught it. That’s a great feeling. We just came out here and took care of business tonight and that’s all it’s going to be about for us every week.”
Grimes finished with three catches for 33 yards and the one score and made it known after the game that, via a Bleacher Report video, he will unveil which college he will be attending Wednesday.
“I just felt like we had to come out here tonight and make a big statement and I felt we did that,” said Grimes. “Everything was clicking. This was just like another day of practice and it was good to get off the field early and let the other younger guys get some playing time.
St. Thomas will line it up for real Aug. 26 with a big showdown game against four-time defending 4A state champion Booker T. Washington at Traz Powell Stadium.
Said Harriot: “Just an exceptional job tonight on both sides of the ball tonight. Our coaches were outstanding in their preparation and now move on to next week. We’re looking forward to the game with Booker T. Coach (Ice) Harrris does an outstanding job with that program and we’re looking forward to a great game.”
▪ Lady Bison Volleyball Preseason Classic — Reagan d. Krop (25-13, 25-12): Pilar Albar-Diaz 13 assists, 4 aces. Veronica Spinelli 6 kills. Sara Requena 6 aces, 3 kills.
▪ Lady Bison Volleyball Preseason Classic — La Salle d. TERRA (19-25, 25-20, 15-7): Nina Gutierrez 9 kills. Mia Sanchez 3 kills, block. Sophia Perez 9 assists, 7 digs. Daniela de la Iglesia 10 digs.
▪ Ferguson d. Verela (25-19, 25-13): Melanie Cuervo 6 aces, 6 digs, 9 assists. Alexandra Gonzalez 7 kills, 2 aces, 4 digs. Michelle Cuervo 4 kills, 6 digs, 2 aces.
▪ Spanish River Preseason — St. Thomas d. West Boca (25-7, 19-25, 15-9): Emma Dixon 5 kills, 4 digs, 3 aces, 14 points.
▪ Spanish River Preseason — St. Thomas d. Spanish River (25-17, 25-8): Allison Marble 9 kills, 6 digs, 2 aces, 3 points.
PRESEASON FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
Booker T. Washington at American Heritage, 7:30
Columbus vs. Boyd Anderson (Ansin), 7
South Plantation at Southridge, 7:30
American at Miramar, 7
Champagnat Catholic at Piper, 7
Coral Glades at Hialeah Gardens, 3:30
Pines Charter at Hialeah, 3:30
Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer vs. Northwestern (Traz), 7
Winter Haven at Killian (Tropical), 7
La Salle at Belen, 4
Ferguson at Coral Park, 3:30
Krop at Palmetto, 4
Doral at Monsignor Pace, 7:30
Gulliver at Goleman, 4
Everglades Prep at Calvary Christian, 7
Ransom Everglades at Palmer Trinity, 4
Hollywood Hills at Western, 7
Taravella at Northeast, 7
Hallandale at South Broward, 7
Douglas at Boca Raton, 7
West Broward at Coconut Creek, 7
ISB at Somerset Academy, 4
Fort Lauderdale at Arch. McCarthy, 7
Westminster Acad. at University School, 7
North Broward Prep at Pine Crest, 7
Pompano vs. Somerset (Boynton Bch), 4
Royal Palm Beach vs. Central (Traz), 7
Carol City at Bradenton IMG Academy, 7
Miami Beach at Braddock, 10 a.m.
Chaminade-Madonna at Deerfield Bch, 7
Norland at St. Johns Creekside, 7:30