High School Sports

Defense propels Aquinas past Blue Valley Northwest

In the third game of the Randy Dreiling coaching era at St. Thomas Aquinas, the Saints appear to be clicking on all cylinders.

With a potent wing-T offense at their hands, the Saints dominated Blue Valley Northwest with a 35-7 victory on Friday at St. Thomas Aquinas.

For Aquinas, 3-0, it was a major overhaul for the program when the Saints hired Dreiling away from Hutchinson, where he had many years of success and seven state titles. But after months of weightlifting and preparation, the Saints have come out and impressed thus far this season.

On Friday night, it was Aquinas’ defense which stole the spotlight.

“Our defense shut down a very potent offense,” Dreiling said. “I couldn’t be more proud of those guys on the defensive side of the ball — just an incredible effort.”

The St. Thomas Aquinas defense held the Huskies to 196 yards of total offense. The Saints limited BV Northwest running back Miles Alexander to just 32 rushing yards.

The Saints started off well, with 16 running plays and an 80-yard drive to open the game. It ended with junior Karter Odermann running it in from 6 yards out to make the score 7-0 Aquinas.

Odermann was a strong signal caller all night and took some chances down the field when it was necessary to keep BV Northwest’s defense honest.

“He’s getting better every week,” Dreiling said. He’s got to make split-second decisions on every play. It’s hard to simulate the speed of the game, but he’s starting to catch up and it’s starting to slow down for him.”

Odermann is the facilitator of Dreiling’s famed wing-T formation and since he started to pick it up, he’s been improving.

“We’ve been doing since this winter,” Odermann said. “We’re just getting better every week.”

After the game’s first touchdown, it was the Aquinas defense and special teams that stepped up. After BV Northwest mishandled a punt, Aquinas’ Chris Bollig dove on the ball in the end zone to make it 14-0.

Aquinas showed off its running game, including the hard-nosed running style of junior James Cosentino, whose two touchdowns in the second quarter made it a four-score game.

Cosentino ended the game as Aquinas’ leading rusher with 27 carries for 154 yards.

“I think the team just has my back and every time I carry the ball, everybody blocks and does their job,” Cosentino said.

At 5-foot-9 and 160 pounds, Costentino is not the biggest man on the field. But he’s a bulldog of a runner.

“He’s an unbelievable back,” Dreiling said. “People don’t know about him, but he gets yards, finds creases and is just learning how to find spots.”

Aquinas finished the night with 347 total rushing yards.

The Huskies started to open up their offense with more passing in the third quarter, but Aquinas junior Sean Benson quickly had different ideas when he jumped a route and picked off a Zack Zagunis pass.

Following the interception, another Aquinas running back — Kyle Bollig — had a 17-yard touchdown run to make the score 35-0 late in the third quarter.

From there the Saints controlled most of the game, putting in second-stringers throughout the fourth quarter.

Northwest’s Zagunis scrambled for a 6-yard touchdown run in the game’s final minutes.

With a newfound identity and momentum, St. Thomas Aquinas will get a test next week against arch-rival Bishop Miege.

Dreiling recognizes the importance of another win, but having the same approach could lead them to another victory next Friday.

“We talked about this in pre-game. You’ve got to take this game no matter who you’re playing, and it’s got to be your Super Bowl that week,” he said. “And that’s what we’ll do with Miege.”