Fort Lauderdale private school St. Thomas Aquinas (STA) is the very model of a modern football factory. The Raiders attract the best talent from South Florida like bees to honey, lean on celebrity alums to ensure consistent exposure and then go out and win games. By the truckload.
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Miami Central is nearly as successful, though it relies much more on the talent that geographically falls its way and a strong program culture to ensure that winning carries over from recruiting class to recruiting class.
None of that disparity of resource mattered Friday night as No. 6 STA hosted No. 9 Central. And the final score reflected one team’s willingness to battle through adversity and against a collection of talent judged by experts to be better than their own. Final score: Central 43, STA 27.
Make no mistake: Miami Central is a true state and national powerhouse in its own right, but the Rockets’ threshold of talent truly can’t compare to STA, which features four Under Armour All-Americans including the five players ranked among the top-50 of Florida. By comparison, Central has none.
What Central does have is three-star dual-threat quarterback Maurice Underwood, a Marshall commit who was the single dominant force on Friday night. Underwood accounted for five touchdowns in the game, outscoring STA by himself.
Critically, four of Underwood’s scores came on the ground as he carved up a STA defense that was on its back foot for much of the game, concerned about what he otherwise might have done through the air.
Indeed, it wasn’t that STA played poorly, it’s just that the Rockets and Underwood in particular were too good.
“He’s a real good quarterback,” STA linebacker Jahmar Brown told the South Florida SunSentinel. “Nothing else to say about it. He’s a pretty good quarterback. The best in Dade, in my opinion.”