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The Knights have been arguably the area's best comeback story this year

Friday Night Ohio
 
LOUISVILLE Alex Hawkins grew up around Anthony Moeglin. In fact, the St. Thomas Aquinas senior saw the former Knights quarterback practically every day.

"He used to take me to school when I was younger," Hawkins said. "I know him. I know his family."

Little did Hawkins know at that time he would have a shot at toppling one of Moeglin's records at Aquinas.

Hawkins enters Saturday's Division VII regional quarterfinal game at Toronto two touchdown passes shy of tying Moeglin's single-season mark of 25. The 23 touchdown passes he has thrown are already a Knights regular-season record.

"It's a nice thing to know that I've accomplished this much," Hawkins said. "Coming into the season, I didn't really think I'd be up there with Anthony and all that.

"It's a cool thing, but I'm focused on winning football games right now."

The Knights have been arguably the area's best comeback story this year. At 6-3, they have won twice as many games as the previous two years and reached the playoffs for the first time since 2016.

Aquinas has done this in a season that saw Hawkins move from receiver to quarterback. No matter what happens in the playoffs, he will finish his career with one of the best seasons a Knights quarterback has produced.

"He never really played much quarterback at all," Aquinas head coach Mike Cook said. "We put him in a situation where we said, 'Hey, Alex, you have to play quarterback for us,' and he accepted that role.

"He's a captain and does a lot of stuff for us. He's had a great season so far."

Hawkins' transition from receiver to quarterback was tough at first. He had thrown more baseballs than footballs in recent years. A chemistry had to develop between him and his receivers, including first-year Aquinas player A'sian Burt.

It didn't take long for Hawkins to settle in. He threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to RaySean Owens and fourth-and-22 in overtime to help secure a season-opening win against Gilmour Academy. He threw three touchdown passes to Burt in a victory over East Canton a week later. A season-high five touchdown passes in a Week 7 win over Warren JFK helped push Aquinas closer to a playoff berth.

"It was getting the mechanics down and all that," Hawkins said. "I feel comfortable now, getting settled in.

"I always stay positive. I didn't think it was going to be this great, but we worked at it all summer. We knew that if we just did what Coach told us, we'd be successful."

Hawkins threw multiple touchdown passes in seven regular-season games and was shut out of the end zone only once. He has been intercepted three times and should eclipse 2,000 yards passing for the year Saturday.

Beating Toronto is Hawkins' main goal. If Moeglin's record also falls, he would have surpassed a player he looked up to.

"He played the game the right way," Hawkins said. "He was always a leader."

Aquinas fans saw a lot of that from their quarterback this season.

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