There will be another new member of the USA TODAY Super 25 come Monday.
In the Class 7A state title game, No. 7 St. Thomas Aquinas High School (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) fell short of a second-straight state title, with Lakeland (Fla.) High School taking control of the game in the second half of a 33-20 victory.
On the next play, Lakeland’s Demarkcus Bowman breaks off an 80-yard run. 7-0 Dreadnaughts with 10:08 left in the second quarter. @SSHighSchools pic.twitter.com/r8OkAnmmUK
— (((Adam Lichtenstein))) (@ABLichtenstein) December 8, 2018
Lakeland led throughout a hard-fought tussle, jumping out to a 10-0 lead and then holding on until the edge was as many as 19 points late in the fourth. A final Aquinas touchdown cut the deficit back down to 13, and the Raiders appeared to gather the onside kick. However, further review by the officials determined that Aquinas star Jordan Battle was offsides on the onside attempt, giving Lakeland back the ball and paving the way for the Dreadnaughts to capture the state title.
The loss ends an otherwise overwhelmingly impressive season from Aquinas, which finishes 13-2. The Raiders lost just one regular season game, a surprising 43-27 setback to Miami Central, and topped other traditional powers including DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.), Dwyer High School (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) and Venice (Fla.) High School to reach the state final.
The championship game was the latest in a series of epic title matchups between the two programs. The previous five games began as Lakeland domination, with the Dreadnaughts taking the first four meetings, between 1996 and 2006, including three straight from 2004-06. Then Aquinas got revenge in a major way with a 56-7 rout in 2008.
Now, 10 years later, the ball is back in Lakeland’s court, with a major upset to show it.
Tough way to end the season for @STA_Football. Jamal Cooney @d1_mal wanted to break it down one last time with the seniors. pic.twitter.com/Fz5Zu5huxc
— David Furones (@DavidFurones_) December 8, 2018