It was the James Cosentino show in the first half of the game between St. Thomas Aquinas and Blue Valley West at Blue Valley District Athletic Complex.
Aquinas’ shifty back raced passed the Jaguars on Friday night for a total of 261 yards and five touchdowns on the way to a 52-28 victory.
It was the Saints’ sixth win of the season, and it gives them a commanding lead in their district.
Cosentino did much of his damage in the first half, and that put his team in a solid position for the rest of the game and next week.
“Going into the game we worked hard all week,” Cosentino said. “The lineman did great. The defense played unbelievable.”
Cosentino wanted to share the love, especially with his lineman, but his head coach Randy Dreiling was more than happy to brag about his impressive running back.
“James is pretty special,” Dreiling said. “He gets his yards, and whatever he gets after 6 or 7 is usually his. I wouldn’t trade him for any back in the city.”
After stopping Blue Valley West early on, Aquinas turned to its effective flexbone offense.
The first scoring drive was typical of what the Saints, 6-2 overall and 2-0 in district, do against opponents. They pushed the ball on the ground and moved the chains before Cosentino pounded in his first score of the night from 10 yards out.
Then some big runs by Cosentino and fellow running back Sam Ramaekers set up his second touchdown, this one from 2 yards out.
Cosentino got his third score by running through a wide open hole up the middle for a 22-yard gain.
And those open holes were created by the push of the offensive line.
“It’s all up front,” Cosentino said. “I give all the credit to my lineman. All the credit to my team. I shouldn’t get points; it’s all to them right there.”
The Jaguars, 4-4, 1-1 in district, finally had an answer midway through the second quarter when they drove into Saints territory.
The drive ended with Tyler Cox punching in a 3-yard run, cutting the Saints’ lead to 21-6.
Cox finished as the leading rusher for BV West with 74 yards in 18 carries.
But the Saints converted a big fourth down before quarterback Karter Odermann hit Landon Johnson for a 20-yard touchdown pass.
Cosentino followed it up with an exclamation point by weaving for a 81-yard run. That opened up a four-score lead before halftime.
“I’m just trying to run hard for my team and carry us as far as we can go,” Cosentino said.
Meanwhile, the Aquinas defense and special teams were holding their own.
Specifically Christopher Schilling. Schilling picked off a pass and also returned a punt 68 yards for a touchdown. That TD boosted Aquinas’ lead to 43 points midway through the third quarter.
“Our defense was outstanding the first half,” Dreiling said. “Their offense is good with a powerful running game.”
The Jaguars put up some points near the end of the game, but that was well after the Saints had taken full control of the game.
With blowouts by halftime in many of their recent victories, Dreiling put his junior-varsity players into action once again for much of the second half.
Dreiling knows that had Cosentino played more in the second half this season his numbers would even be higher.
“Every one of our wins he hardly plays in the second half,” Dreiling said.
“He would have 200 yards in a lot of those games.”
Now with big possibilities in the playoffs in front of them, the Saints will try to regroup for one last regular-season win.
And there’s a good chance Cosentino will be a major reason why they will continue to play well.
“We’ve got to keep working hard all week and keep improving as the days go by,” Cosentino said.