A look at the St. Thomas Aquinas Knights:
HEAD COACH: Mike Cook, third year, 9-12
LAST YEAR: 7-4
POSTSEASON: Division VI, Region 21
RETURNING LETTERMEN (15)
Daymiere Adams, WR-DB, 5-8, 140, Sr.
Cole Bautista, OL-DL, 5-11, 230, Jr.
D’andre Black, WR-DB, 5-10, 170, Sr.
Asian Burt, WR-DB, 6-1, 100, Sr.
Niles Cleveland, OL-DL, 6-1, 250, Sr.
Karief Culler, RB-LB, 5-10, 215, Sr.
Dom DiMarzio, OL-DL, 6-2, 230, Jr.
Will Gordon, WR-LB, 5-9, 160, Jr.
Trent Herman, OL-DL, 5-10, 260, Sr.
Treyton Mackey, RB-LB, 5-10, 220, Soph.
Robbie Mitchell, TE-LB, 5-10, 175, Sr.
Isaiah Shackleford, OL-DL, 6-1, 215, Soph.
Denarel Shipman, WR-DB, 5-11, 165, Jr.
Kesston Wanchick, OL-DL, 6-0, 230, Jr.
Vinny Zeren, WR-DB, 5-10, 150, Sr.
IMPACT PLAYERS: Asian Burt is a threat to score every time he touches the football. The first team All-Ohioan set St. Thomas Aquinas records with 78 catches for 1,146 yards and 14 touchdowns last year. He returned three punts for touchdowns in a win over Claymont and had five TD returns on the season. ... Vinny Zeren is a good possession receiver who forms a solid tandem with Burt. ... The Knights expect a breakout year from Kareif Culler, their starting running back. He played mostly defense in 2019 at linebacker. ... Lineman Keeston Wanchick has started both ways since his freshman season. ... Cole Bautista also will be one of Aquinas’ most reliable linemen. He has started on the offensive line since his freshman year and has played all five positions. ... D’andre Black is one the Knights’ best cover players. He runs a 4.4 40. ... The defense also returns starters Robbie Mitchell and Treyton Mackey at linebacker.
WHAT’S NEW: Rootstown transfer Trey Burch will be the Knights’ starting quarterback. Burch rushed for over 1,000 yards and helped lead the Rovers to a Division V playoff berth last year. He ran for 175 yards and two TDs in a regular-season win over Aquinas.
OUTLOOK: Head coach Mike Cook has led the rebirth of football at his alma mater. The Knights went from two wins and a depleted roster in 2018 to seven wins and a playoff berth last year. Burt is one of the best receivers in the state and he has some talented players with playoff experience around him. Look for Aquinas to be in position to make a run when the postseason starts in October.