The Aquinas football team has never been here before.
The Irish are undefeated at 9-0 for their best startin school history. They’re just one win away from setting a program record for wins in a season.
This year, they beat Lincoln County for the first time since 1972– and did so by 28 points.
They’ve also never won a region championship.
For a team that went 17-7 the previous two seasons, this year has been different. Aquinas has won every game by at least 24 points except one, winning in a rout almost every week as it tries to enter the Class A private state playoffs undefeated and with a region title.
“We knew going into this season, our goal was to win region,” Irish coach James Leonard said. “We set that back in June. We’ve had our eye on it ever since.”
First Presbyterian, which is a game back at 5-1 in Region 7-A, is the last obstacle before a perfect regular season. The two teams have met only once before – a 42-14 Aquinas romp last season.
But the Vikings are 6-3 this season, with wins in their last five games.
Still, this Aquinas team’s veterans have grown used to playing in important games. Back in 2011, the Irish won a state playoff game for the first time and made the quarterfinals.
“They’ve been in big games,” Leonard said. “They know what to do – the pressure. We know it’s going to be the toughest, we’ll be pushed for four quarters.”
Senior Jeff Fox is one of the older players who has been around and knows what’s at stake. He’s seen the momentum build, and he’s not ready to let it go this close to making even more history.
“Everyone is with us,” the lineman said. “Everyone wants to help us out and be a part of it. It’s something special for my senior year.”