Originally created 08/25/06

Season Preview: Aquinas

Head coach: Jim Connor (Fourth year with team; 17th overall)

Classification: GHSA Region 7-A

2005 record: 6-5

Four-year record (since 2002): 20-22

Last playoff appearance: 2005

Returning starters: 3 offense, 4 defense

Key Irish: Senior FB/DE John Douglas (6-2, 235); Senior QB Mike Cardwell (6-3, 200); Junior NT/G Mel Lapan (5-10, 230); Senior DE/OL Nick Ryan (6-8, 340); Junior LB/C Mac McElveen (6-0, 200)

Offensive attack: The Irish will base out of the I-formation but will throw more to showcase Cardwell's strong arm. The senior transfer from Virginia is the best pure passer the Irish have had in years. Douglas will be a load out of the backfield. The question is the receivers. Who's going to catch the darts Cardwell will throw? Senior WR James Purcel (6-0, 165) and senior TE Matt McKenzie (6-0, 185) are the likely targets.

Defensive keys: The early indication is the Irish are in for a few high-scoring affairs. If Cardwell clicks, he'll be able to take some pressure off the defense by putting up points. But the offensive worry is mirrored here. A lack of skill guys at receiver means the team is also thin in the secondary as well.

Thin at: Receiver

Big game: vs. Hancock Central, Nov. 3

Different this year: Irish fans will flip the first time they see four receivers on the field on first down.

Could go bad if: This team has a tougher schedule and less talent than in years past. If Douglas and Cardwell can't carry the team, the Irish will struggle to reach .500.

Great year if: Cardwell looks like a Steve Spurrier quarterback and throws for 200 yards per game, leaving Douglas to bowl over Nickel and Dime defenses. That kind of production would put this team in the playoffs.


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