Despite not having much luck reaching the postseason in recent years, the St. Thomas Aquinas Knights could be set to surprise some people in 2007. This year’s team returns plenty of experienced players form last year's 7-3 team with six starters back on each side of the ball, including the entire offensive line.
OL Justin Ray (6-6, 300, Sr.), QB Matt Sams (6-2, 195, Sr.), LB Nate Harper (6-1, 195, Sr.), WR/FS Sean Clary (6-0, 170, Jr.), WR/SS Steven Fultz, 6-1, 170, Jr.)
2006 Record: 7-3
The St. Thomas Aquinas Knights, a state champion in 1984, have been traveling on the path back to the postseason in recent years. Having not made the playoffs in the 2000’s, Aquinas was looking good early in the year after having jumped out to a 7-0 record but dropped the final three games of the season to fall short of the playoffs.
The program has been growing and getting better every year,” head coach Tim Tyrrell said. “We really had a shot to make the playoffs there at the end. We lost a very, very close game at the very end of the game to Warren JFK, who went to the state championship. We lost another very close one to Steubenville Central Catholic down there, which is hard to play. We started off doing well, beat some good teams – Bishop Hartley and Elyria Catholic. We’ve got a lot of kids coming back for next year, so we’re excited.”
Specifically, the Knights have six starters back on both sides of the ball and could be a sleeper this year in Region 17.
“It’s a positive outlook,” Tyrrell said. “We have the whole offensive line coming back which is a huge plus, anchored by Justin Ray, who is a big 6-6, 300 pound kid who’s getting recruited pretty heavily, and a good quarterback, Matt Sams (1,628 yards passing, 12 TD, 4 INT, 4 TD rushing in 2006), who’s a three-year starter. We plan showing his talents a little bit more this year, being able to run with him and throw with him. He’s got a very good arm. We’ve got some good young receivers.
“Defensively we lost Kendall Washington, who’s going to the University of West Virginia. He was a very, very good player so it will be tough to replace him. But hopefully some kids step up and we play well enough to make the postseason.”
Tyrrell addressed some things the team needs to work on as well as some of the things that will be the team strengths this year.
“The biggest thing we need to work on going into this thing as coaches is we have to shore up the defense and get some playmakers on that side of the football, especially on that side of the football,” he said. “Some things coming back that are positives, where hopefully we are ahead of the game, is the offensive line play and the quarterback position. Three out of the five kids are three-year starters coming back on the offensive line, and two are two-year starters.”
If the Knights are to return to the playoffs, they’ll have to earn it. Tyrrell feels the team’s schedule is a step up from last season.
“We don’t really have a week off this year,” Tyrell said. “We added some teams and made the schedule even harder. We open up with two area teams, which is odd for us. We usually don’t play anyone from this area. Marlington and Minerva stepped up and scheduled us, so we’re happy about that. Both those programs are good, especially Minerva’s. We added CVCA which is a playoff team. We still have Bishop Hartley, which is a very good team out of Columbus, and Elyria Catholic, which is a good, physical team. We still have Canton Central Catholic and Warren JFK. It’s a good schedule for a Division V team.”
Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas
|9/7/2007||Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy||4|
|9/14/2007||@ Columbus Bishop Hartley||4|
|10/19/2007||Steubenville Catholic Central||6|
|10/26/2007||Canton Central Catholic||4|