Coach Randy Dreiling’s first season at St. Thomas Aquinas has not gone quite as smoothly as he might have hoped, but the Saints, nevertheless, have battled through a barrage of injuries and will play for the Kansas Class 5A football state title for the first time since 2008.
The Saints’ 9-3 record is a marked improvement from last year, but Dreiling said the potential was always there.
“Last year (Aquinas was) 3-7 and it wasn’t a great year, but these kids are used to winning and being successful,” Dreiling said. “Our goal was to get to the next level and establish something that gives us a chance to get to this game year in and year out.”
Aquinas will face undefeated Bishop Carroll at 1 p.m. on Saturday at Pittsburg State University for a chance at the program’s first state title. Dreiling won seven state titles at his previous coaching job with Hutchinson.
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It is a different Saints’ team than the squad that started the season, most notably the absence of running backs James Cosentino and Jacob Leikam, who were injured in recent weeks.
“We don’t have to play a perfect game, but we cannot make mistakes that give them short fields,” Dreiling said. “They are really good and we have to play an unbelievably great game to be in this thing. We have to pound out first downs and hopefully catch them with a play action pass or two.”
Although the Aquinas depth chart has changed drastically, one of the most reliable players this season has been quarterback Karter Odermann, who has 12 rushing touchdowns and has passed for 10 touchdowns. Running back Kyle Bollig has added a spark with three touchdowns and 730 rushing yards.