Aquinas cruises past Pittsburg

By Andy Meyer PrepsKC staff writer
Posted: November 11, 2017 - 9:51 AM

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – Thanks to a scorching-hot start, St. Thomas Aquinas methodically marched on to Sub-State for the fourth consecutive year.

The Saints scored touchdowns on their first four drives and never looked back on their way to a 42-21 victory against Pittsburg in Class 5A Sectional play. Senior quarterback Will Swanson and junior running back Cameron Jackson both scored twice during the early burst that put the squad in control.

“That’s a big part of every game. We even talked about that, getting off to a big lead, getting off to a good start,” Swanson said. “… It was good to get those first four, get them on the board.

“Our defense is so good that once you get four, it’s tough to beat that.”

Aquinas (10-1) entered the contest on a seven-game winning streak and was averaging nearly 48 points per game during that stretch. And right from the get-go, the offense set the tone.

Swanson scampered into the end zone on the first possession, while Jackson notched the next two scores, giving the Saints a commanding 21-0 in the first quarter.

Meanwhile, the Saints’ defense was equally dominant from the outset, forcing a turnover and three punts against Pittsburg’s dangerous offense. Aquinas gladly seized the momentum and made it a four-score game shortly into the second quarter when Swanson went over the line for a 1-yard score.

“That’s been our M.O.,” Aquinas coach Randy Dreiling said. “We try to come out and take over a game, but it doesn’t matter when you score. Sometimes they come in flurries or at the beginning of the game.”

Pittsburg (8-3) soon answered with a turnover of its own that resulted in a Corbin Jefferson receiving touchdown from quarterback Chase Curtis, and the Purple Dragons drove into the red zone again just before halftime, resulting in a missed field goal.

Shortly into the second half, an electric play from Tristan Davis gave the Saints a huge boost when he zig-zagged his way to a 53-yard touchdown. Adam Davis would add another rushing score late in the game and add to a balanced Aquinas rushing attack.

Pittsburg tacked on touchdowns from Dylan White and Brandis Evans late in the game, but the early deficit proved too much to overcome.

Dreiling said he was glad to see the fast start and steady play on both sides of the ball. It marks the fourth straight season that Saints have made it to the Sub-State round, and he indicated his team is already anticipating a rematch against Mill Valley.

“These kids are focused. They have a team goal,” Aquinas coach Randy Dreiling said. “We’re not satisfied where we’re at. We’re not going to dwell too long on this win, and we’re ready to move on.”

The Saints defeated Mill Valley earlier this year by a 42-21 margin and will have the chance to avenge last season’s sub-state loss to the Jaguars, the defending 5A champions. With a win, Aquinas would advance to the state title game for the first time since 2014.

“Everybody knows it’s hard to beat a team twice, so we’re going to have to have a good week of practice and keep getting better,” Swanson said.