Off and running


By Ryan Wallace PrepsKC Senior Writer
Posted: October 6, 2017 - 11:11 PM

A week after St. James ran over and around the Blue Valley defense, rival St. Thomas Aquinas gave the Thunder a taste of their own medicine, handing the program its first loss of the season, 34-14 on Friday.

“You know, with that offense that they run, you have to be assignment sound,” said head coach Tom Radke after the game, echoing his postgame speech to his team about a plethora of mental mistakes. “We were not assignment sound that first half.”

The Saints wasted little time running head coach Randy Dreiling’s physical flexbone style to perfection. Each offensive possession in the first half resulted in a touchdown and was the product of meticulous patience. Wearing down a typically quick St. James defense, Aquinas (5-1) etched scoring drives of eight, eleven, nine, and nine plays a piece and all but one, an 18-yard aerial fade to senior receiver C.J. Eddy in the back corner of the end zone, came on the feet of the Saints backfield.

“It’s tough to stop the flexbone in general,” said victorious quarterback Will Swanson, who Dreiling called “flawless” afterwards. “Having good guys to run it and guys that know what they’re doing is definitely tougher.”

“They’ve got some big boys over there and they can get you on your heels,” added Radke, who watched as a stellar performance from the Saints offensive line put his squad in a 34-0 hole.

Unlike St. Thomas Aquinas tailback Cameron Jackson who crossed the goal line twice, powerful St. James rusher Jack Petz, who scored five times last Friday, was quieted under the road lights in Overland Park. Aside from a 49-yard dash to the 22-yard line with roughly five minutes to go in the first half (a gain that was nullified on a failed fourth down conversion attempt) Tom Radke’s attack repeatedly stalled at the hands of a ferocious defensive line.

“Our defensive line doesn’t just have size, they’re good athletes,” responded Dreiling of his fearsome foursome up front, spearheaded by junior Javier Derritt on this night. “You know, they don’t get a lot of notoriety in high school football but I think those guys earn their keep every week.”

For the Thunder (5-1), the first loss, to a rival at that, certainly stings. However, the game might just serve as motivation for the upstart roster as they move towards a high seeding in the 5A playoffs.

“We’ll see them again, we hope to,” finished an upbeat Radke. “These guys are really good but we hope to see them down the road. We’ll fix some mistakes and hopefully put on a better show.”

Though confident in their performance, St. Thomas Aquinas knows better than to swim in this win for too long themselves. With a runner-up EKL position in hand and the home field advantage over St. James in the playoffs, there’s too much at stake to slip up down the stretch.

“Last year, we beat Mill Valley and lost to them in sub-state,” Swanson recalled. “You just never know. We’ll probably see (St. James) in playoffs. They’re a really good team.”

“We wanted to make a statement tonight and however that worked out, that’s the way it worked out,” concluded Dreiling. “But I think our kids came out of this very, very confident.”

St. James welcomes Kapaun Mt. Carmel (4-2) to town for senior night next Friday. St. Thomas Aquinas travels to Blue Valley Southwest (3-3).