• WR Duron Carter, Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas – The Raiders cemented their place as the best high school football team in the nation with yet another blowout victory, this time in the Florida High School Athletic Association Class 5A championship game.
St. Thomas Aquinas capped a 15-0 season with a 56-7 rout of longtime playoff rival Lakeland at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando. The Raiders were in control from the start, scoring three touchdowns on their first seven offensive plays. St. Thomas Aquinas' defense also did its job, holding the Dreadnaughts (14-1) to 139 total yards, forcing two turnovers and notching three sacks.
The Raiders led 35-0 at halftime and cruised to their second straight state title. The win also served as revenge for St. Thomas Aquinas, which lost in the state title game to Lakeland in 2004, 2005 and 2006.
"It's great, coming in, beating Lakeland to win state, they've been a monkey on our back and we lifted them off this year," Carter told the USA Today.
Carter caught a 5-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter. It was one of three TD passes by senior quarterback Ryan Becker, who completed 8 of 11 passes for 100 yards. He also ran for a 1-yard score.
The Raiders had 388 yards of total offense on 39 plays, an average of nearly 10 yards per play.
"You just don't expect to see a score like this," St. Thomas Aquinas alumnus Michael Irvin, who was in attendance, told the Miami Herald. "The family-style unity – that's the difference. Great teams will never reach greatness unless each guy is playing for his brother.''
Lakeland coach Bill Castle is among those who believe the Raiders are the best in the nation. His Dreadnaughts lost for the first time in a state title game in seven trips.
"To be the No. 1 team in the nation, they played like it tonight," Castle told the USA Today. "They just have one heck of a football team … they're truly a well coached team and they deserve to be No. 1 in the nation."