5. St. Thomas Aquinas
Location: Fort Lauderdale
2016 record: 13-2
2016 Super 25 Final ranking: No. 5
The three-time defending 7A state champion Raiders lost quarterback Jake Allen to Florida and two big-time wide receivers to graduation in Trevon Grimes (Ohio State) and Mike Harley (Miami), but have plenty of players back, particularly on defense.
The defensive secondary is strong, led by all-county senior CB Asante Samuel, a Florida State commit who had four interceptions, returning three for touchdowns, and three blocked kicks. He’s joined by senior S Adetutu Daranijo (45 tackles), senior S Trenell Troutman (three interceptions), who has committed to Louisville and senior CB Al Blades Jr., a Miami commit, in the defensive backfield. Other key returning defenders include DE-LB Coleman Crozier (14.5 sacks, 55 tackles), who has committed to Navy, senior DE-LB Nik Bonitto (33 tackles, six sacks) and senior LB Rocky Shelton (122 tackles, four sacks), who has committed to Duke. The defense gained two solid transfers in LB-DE D’Andre Ragin, who had 65 tackles and six sacks and was All-Dade County last season at Monsignor Pace (Miami Gardens) and Tyler Steen, a standout DL from Doral Academy (Doral).
Key offensive players include senior OL Jason Swann, junior RB Daniel Carter, senior WR-KR Tavares Kelly, a Virginia commit who had 641 all-purpose yards last season, and talented senior WR Elijah Moore.
The Raiders open the season with St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.) and also play 8A semifinalist Deerfield Beach and Arizona 5A runner-up Centennial (Peoria).
8/17 vs. Dillard (Fort Lauderdale)*
8/25 vs. St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.)
9/1 vs. Piper (Sunrise)
9/8 vs. Flanagan (Pembroke Pines)
9/15 vs. Stranahan (Fort Lauderdale)
9/29 at Centennial (Peoria, Ariz.)
10/6 vs. Deerfield Beach
10/13 vs. Fort Lauderdale
10/20 at Boyd Anderson (Lauderdale Lakes)
10/27 at Blanche Ely (Pompano Beach)
11/3 vs. Miramar