There was no successful playoff history to remember or postseason run to replicate – at least not until a year ago.
One year after winning its first-ever state playoff game, the Aquinas football team will set out to top a state quarterfinalist finish from 2011. Tonight, the Irish are home against George Walton Academy at 7:30 p.m. in the opening round of the Class A private state playoffs. Aquinas coach Matt LeZotte said 400 extra seats will be brought in for the game.
“Our guys believe if we play well, nobody can beat us,” LeZotte said. “When you build a program, that’s the mentality you want to have.”
The Irish are the sixth seed for the playoffs, with a rematch in the first round. Back on Sept. 7, Aquinas traveled to George Walton and won 28-21 in overtime. The win came during Aquinas’ five-game win streak to begin the season.
Though the 8-2 Irish had losses to Lincoln County and Wilkinson County in consecutive weeks, they won their next three games, with 147 total points scored in the three contests.
Tonight, Aquinas will be at full strength with its starters, including Brendan Douglas. The Georgia Tech commit broke his hand against Wilkinson County but rushed for 300 yards in the regular-season finale against First Presbyterian.
But now the Irish embark on the journey that is the 16-team private school playoff bracket.
The playoffs are a chance for Aquinas to continue what has already become the best stretch in program history.
Aquinas has combined for 23 wins the past three seasons, and this year isn’t even done yet.
So while the winning tradition is relatively new, Aquinas is mentally prepared for what it hopes will be another lengthy playoff run.
“You lose, you’re out,” said Daniel Lindsey, who has a team-best 247 receiving yards. “So winning is the only thing on our minds.”