Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas, which last season won its 10th Florida state football championship and finished among the top five teams in the nation by USA Today, has agreed to play at Peoria Centennial in late September, Athletic Director Brett Palmer said.
“We’re very fortunate to host them,” Palmer said. “We were able to drop the (Scottsdale) Chaparral game. They’re going to be playing Valencia (Calif.).”
That Chaparral game in California will be played on Sept. 8, Chaparral AD Tommy Eubanks said.
Palmer said Centennial and St. Thomas Aquinas agreed on the game, which will likely be played on Sept. 29, a Friday.
Two years ago, when Centennial captured the state championship in the state’s biggest division, it opened the season at home against Long Beach Poly, which ended up being a low-scoring game that LBP won by a point.
St. Thomas Aquinas is an even bigger beast. It captured its second consecutive 7A Florida championship last season and was part of the GEICO State Champions Bowl Series in late December in Frisco, Texas.
It came into last season as USA Today’s No.1 ranked team in the nation. After losing to Las Vegas Bishop Gorman in triple overtime, STA ran the table, winning nine in a row.
Coach Richard Taylor said that Centennial was looking to host either Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei or Corona (Calif.) Centennial, before the school was able to get St. Thomas Aquinas to play them at home.
Taylor said that Corona Centennial wanted too much money to come to Arizona.
“St. Thomas said, ‘We don’t need any money, we’ll just fly out,’ ” Taylor said.
Nothing has been confirmed yet on who will be televising the game. There is a chance that it could be nationally televised by ESPN.
This is as big a game as Chandler hosting IMG Academy, the Florida power, in August.
Taylor calls this a no-lose game.
“You don’t lose when you play a team like this,” he said. “It doesn’t do any good to play an easy schedule.”
Suggest human interest stories to Richard Obert at [email protected] or 602-316-8827. Follow him at azc_obert