High School Football: #1 St. Thomas Aquinas (FL) vs #2 Byrnes Rebels (SC)
With a new quarterback and two new wide receivers, the St. Thomas Aquinas offense has picked up where it left off last year.
The No. 1 ranked Raiders are averaging 44.3 points per game and have outscored their opposition 133-20 after three games. The offense will be tested Friday as No. 2 ranked Brynes (S.C.) comes to play at Lockhart Stadium in an ESPNU televised game.
The Raiders have found replacements for their starting quarterback Ryan Becker ( University of Pennsylvania) and top two wide outs in Duron Carter ( Ohio State) and Dwayne Difton (University of Connecticut) who graduated after the 2008 season.
“Obviously every team is going to graduate seniors and every team hopefully has someone who is going to come in and step in there,” said St. Thomas Aquinas coach George Smith, whose team is the two-time defending Class 5A state champions.
The Raiders tied a school record they set in the 1999-2000 seasons with their 27th consecutive victory last week over Cardinal Gibbons.
“Those guys really don’t have a lot of experience and it takes a while to get going, and we are kind of in that mode right now,” Smith added. “The more we can play, and the more they practice, hopefully the better they’ll get.”
Raiders’ junior quarterback Jacob Rudock has completed 27 of 47 passes for 392 yards and seven scores in the first three games. He has been intercepted just once. The 6-3, 180-pound Rudock has also rushed for 51 yards and scored one touchdown.
Junior Phillip Dorsett (9 catches, 145 yards, TD), senior Lamarcus Joyner (7 catches, 124 yards, 2 TDs), junior Rashad Greene (6 catches, 74 yards, TD), senior James White (5 catches, 53 yards, 2 TDs) and junior Jamal Wilson (1 catch, 32 yards, TD) have stepped in at wide receiver.
“Ryan Becker really helped me last year and since I got a lot of playing time last year that also helped,” Rudock said. “The coach really gets you prepared. I have a great O-line, which gives me time in the box. I have fast receivers that know how to get open and I have running backs that take control of the game. It is a wonderful feeling.”
“We lost some quality guys to graduation,” Rudock added, “but guys like Shawn Greene and Phil Dorsett really stepped up.”
A strong core of running backs has also helped. James White and Giovanni Bernard, both Division I prospects, carry their share of the offense. Bernard, who has rushed for 141 yards this season, has not played in the last six quarters due to a hamstring injury.
“I don’t think we mess with or change anything,” said White, leads the team in rushing with 195 yards, and has added 53 yards receiving. White’s totaled four TDs. “Every summer we show up for the summer workouts and we build team chemistry. We play team games so we gel as a team.”
White believes the team can be even better.
“We can be real good,” White said. “We have to work a little bit better and try and decrease the penalties and we’ll be fine.”
Prediction: St. Thomas Aquinas 32 Byrnes Rebels 21