ORLANDO (Fla.) – It doesn’t take long to realize Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas is a national championship-caliber football team.
Just ask a coach who has been at the top of the high school football universe.
“They are the best, no doubt about that,” Lakeland coach Bill Castle said after falling to the national champion Raiders in Florida’s Class 5A state championship game.
Castle led the Dreadnaughts (14-1) to a pair of national championships in 2005 and 2006, but he could not come up with any solutions to stopping St. Thomas (15-0) in a 56-7 drubbing Friday in Orlando, Fla., a game that clinched the RivalsHigh national title for the Raiders.
It marked the first national championship and fifth state title for St. Thomas and coach George Smith, who has guided the Raiders for 32 years. Three of the last four national champions came out of Florida’s Class 5A, which is arguably one of the most challenging divisions in the country.
“If you win the state championship in the state of Florida, you’ve got a decent football team no matter what class you are in,” Smith said. “We didn’t talk about that [the national championship], but if that comes with it, that is a very unbelievable event.”