After an undefeated season, a state championship and a postseason bowl victory, St. Thomas Aquinas can once again lay claim to a national title.
After beating Saint Louis (Hawaii) in the GEICO State Champions Bowl Series, GEICO named the Raiders the national champions on Tuesday.
“GEICO afforded us an unprecedented opportunity to play in the inaugural postseason high school national championship on ESPN,” St. Thomas coach Roger Harriott said. “We are grateful to be part of the first national championship to be settled on the field. This is a tremendous honor and perfect ending to our great season.”
St. Thomas finished second in USA Today’s final national rankings behind only one-loss California state champion St. John Bosco.
The Raiders’ road to a title started and ended on national television. St. Thomas beat California’s De La Salle to start the year. De La Salle’s only other loss was against St. John Bosco. De La Salle finished the year ranked 12th in the nation in MaxPreps’ XCellent 25.
During the regular season, the Raiders picked up key wins against Miami Carol City, Deerfield Beach and Western. They beat Plantation, their main competition for the district title, to win their eighth straight district championship.
St. Thomas really began firing on all cylinders once the playoffs began, outscoring opponents, 207-42.
The Raiders dominated the statewide competition up until the state title game. They fell behind early but came back from a two-score deficit, holding off an Orlando Edgewater comeback to hold onto a 28-23 victory.
The state championship was St. Thomas’ 11th in program history, which tied the Raiders with Jacksonville Bolles for the most of any Florida team.
St. Thomas finished the year with a bowl-game victory over Saint Louis at Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas.
Over their 15 victories, the Raiders outscored opponents, 610-150. Only two of their wins were by fewer than two touchdowns.
St. Thomas will receive a banner from GEICO, commemorating the Raiders’ 2019 national title.
Copyright © 2021, South Florida Sun-Sentinel