Curt Casteel led host St. Thomas Aquinas to a 38-0 opening night victory over DeMatha (Hyattsville, MD). St. Thomas entered the season ranked No. 6 in the nation by Max Preps and ranked No. 7 by USA Today. DeMatha entered the season ranked 46th in the nation by Max Preps. The game was viewed by a national audience on ESPN2.
“I thought we went out and executed well and did what we needed to,” Casteel said. He finished the game with 110 passing yards, three touchdown passes and 38 rushing yards. “The O-line played great tonight, they gave me the time to throw the ball.”
Both teams started slow with each having its first drive result in a punt. Late in the first quarter, a fumble recovery by Tyreak Sapp helped set up a 24-yard field goal by William McConnell.
Jamar Brown recovered a fumble and returned it 13 yards for the first touchdown of the game. Minutes later, a third fumble found its way to Aquinas as Anthony Solomon made the recovery. The following drive ended with Daniel Carter scoring on a 6-yard run.
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Jamal Cooney took a punt return 49 yards down to the DeMatha five yard line. Aquinas went to him on the following play and Curt Casteel was on target with a five-yard touchdown pass to Cooney. St. Thomas led 24-0 at halftime.
“On the punt return I tried to cut back, but on of my teammates was in front of me, but I got it on the next play,” Cooney said.
In the third quarter, the game was delayed for nine minutes due to an apparent leg injury to Jordan White of DeMatha. He was placed on a stretcher and taken to an ambulance. In a show of support, Aquinas players lined the field to applaud White.
Cooney scored a second touchdown on a nearly identical pass from Casteel, this time from 16 yards out in the third quarter.
Casteel added a third touchdown pass in the fourth quarter when he found Xavier Restrepo open in the back of the end zone for an eight-yard touchdown pass.
Carter finished with a game high 43 rushing yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Eric Najarian led DeMatha with 59 total yards.
“It was an incredible win,” coach Roger Harriott said. “We still have some things to work on. We need to settle down and executed plays with confidence to improve. Curt has become a great leader. He has grown this past year.”
The Raiders went 12-3 last season with a playoff exit in the state 7A semifinal at Venice (27-20). The loss prevented Aquinas from winning a forth consecutive state championship. The Raiders football team has won state in 2016, 2015, 2014, 2012, 2010, 2008, 2007, 1999, 1997 and 1992