While the preseason Super 25 football rankings won’t come out for a few weeks, this is one of a series on teams that could contend in the Super 25 high school football rankings next season. We previously looked at De La Salle (Concord, Calif.), South Panola (Batesville, Miss.), Colquitt County (Moultrie, Ga.), Miami (Fla.) Central, Chandler, Ariz, DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.), Allen, Texas; Cedar Hill, Texas, Webb City, Mo., Clay-Chalkville (Pinson, Ala., Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas), Centennial (Corona, Calif.) and Bishop Amat (La Puente, Calif.).
2014 finish: Went 14-1, won the state 7A title and finished No. 25 in the Super 25 rankings.
Tradition: Aquinas has won eight state titles and 30 district championships. In the past six NFL drafts, a former St. Thomas Aquinas player has been taken, including three in the 2015 draft.
2015 schedule: Opens Aug. 28 at home with three-time defending 4A state champion Booker T. Washington (Miami), which has a 41-game winning streak and closes at home Nov. 6 with up-and-coming Flanagan (Pembroke Pines), which made it to the state 8A semifinals last season.
Top returnees (years listed are for next school year): All-State senior DE Nick Bosa, younger brother of Ohio State Joey Bosa; senior WR Sam Bruce, nephew of former NFL wide receiver Isaac Bruce; senior running back Devontae Henry-Cole and junior WR Trevon Grimes.
Toughest to replace: Running back Jordan Scarlett, now at Miami, who ran for 1,124 yards and 24 touchdowns last season.
Top newcomers: Junior quarterback Jake Allen, a Florida commit who threw for 751 yards and seven touchdowns last season at Cardinal Gibbons (Fort Lauderdale); and WR Michael Irvin II, the son of the former Pro Football Hall of Fame receiver of the same name, who had 34 career touchdowns at Prestonwood Christian (Plano, Texas).
Outlook: While Bosa is the team’s top 2016 prospect, the team has players with NFL potential at several positions. Roger Harriott, who was the assistant head coach at Florida Atlantic University last season, said his team’s depth is its most noticeable characteristic.
“We’re blessed with talented first- and second-string players in each position,” Harriott texted. “Although depth is an apparent advantage for us, a number of players have emerged as leaders, earning their team’s respect: QB Jake Allen; DL(s) Nick Bosa and Colin Nace; OL(s) Nick Plunkett and Zach Sweeney; RB(s) DeVontae Henry-Cole, James Charles and Jaxon Kincaide; LB(s) Nolan Rodriguez and Albert Tucker; WR(s) Sam Bruce, Conner Cullins, Trevon Grimes, Dominic Thieman and Michael Irvin II; DBs Frank Coppet, Mark Williams and Alvin Davis and kicker-punter James McCourt.”
Harriott said he isn’t worried about his transition in his first year as the Raiders’ coach.
“The support (athletic director) George Smith and our administrators have provided me has alleviated any major team concerns,” he texted. “Our winning tradition is an inevitable expectation and may be perceived by many as a common concern, which isn’t the case. For us, football is a tool to teach our players how to behave like champions in life.”
Follow Jim Halley on Twitter at @jimhalley