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St. Thomas Aquinas players run onto the field before the 2016 Class 7A state title game. (Source: Chuck Bethel Jr.)

ESPN Announces St. Thomas Aquinas’ Opener Set For August 25

The Worldwide Leader In Sports – better known as ESPN – announced the schedule for the 2017 GEICO/ESPN High School Football Kickoff and it includes South Florida football powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas.

The Raiders, the reigning three-time Class 7A state champions, will host California’s St. John Bosco on August 25th – the game will be televised on ESPNU at 7 p.m.

ESPN’s high school football kickoff event has routinely featured some of the country’s top teams. This year’s event will consist of seven games played over three days (Aug. 25-27) and will feature a handful of national heavyweights.

Las Vegas Bishop Gorman and Bradenton IMG Academy – both of which will play against South Florida teams in 2017 – are also scheduled to participate in the event.

Aquinas, which ended the 2016 season ranked in the top-five nationally, will once again be one of the country’s top teams. Despite having to replace more than a handful of stars from last season’s team, the Raiders will still have the requisite firepower to compete on a national level.

Taking on the mantle of senior leadership will be defensive end Nik Bonitto, defensive backs Asante Samuel and Al Blades Jr. and receiver Elijah Moore – all of whom are four-star prospects.

Add in players like defensive back Trenell Troutman, linebacker Rocky Shelton and 2019 running back Daniel Carter – and Aquinas is a veritable shoe-in to win a fourth consecutive state title along with being a mythical national championship contender.

St. John Bosco should prove to be a formidable test for the Raiders. The Braves, located in Bellflower, Ca, won the CIF Southern Section Division-I championship and CIF State Open Division Championship in 2016 and return a majority of its offensive line as well as dual-threat quarterback Re’Al Mitchell and four-star safeties Jaiden Woodbey and Stephan Blaylock.

GEICO/ESPN High School Football Kickoff Schedule

Friday, Aug. 25

St. John Bosco (Calif.) vs. St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.), 7 p.m., ESPNU

DeMatha (Md.) vs. Bishop Gorman (Nev.), 9 p.m., ESPN

Saturday, Aug. 26

Tulsa Union (Okla.) vs. Broken Arrow (Okla.), Noon, ESPN

Saraland (Ala.) vs. Heard County (Ga.), 3:30 p.m., ESPNU

Bartram Trail (Fla.) vs. Cartersville (Ga.), 7:30 p.m., ESPN2

IMG Academy (Fla.) vs. Chandler (Ariz.), 10:30 p.m., ESPNU

Sunday, Aug. 27

Wayne (Ohio) vs. Pine-Richland (Pa.), 1:30 p.m., ESPN

About J.T. Wilcox

J.T. Wilcox is an award-winning sports journalist that has worked in South Florida for more than a decade. He authors "The Bald Predictions" Blog and "The Baldcast" Podcast. J.T. Wilcox joined the Football Hotbed staff in 2017.

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