Dreiling has Aquinas playing for title in first year

Randy Dreiling has Aquinas in title game in first year as head coach. (photo: STASaints.net)
By: Sports in Kansas - Chet Kuplen
Nov 27, 2014

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When longtime Hutchinson coach, Randy Dreiling, was hired last December by St. Thomas Aquinas everyone knew it was just a matter of how soon he could have the Saints competing at a championship level. 

In his first year as Aquinas head coach, he has the Saints in the state title game for the second time in school history, a year after they finished 3-7. It shouldn't be a big surprise as Dreiling led Hutchinson to seven state titles, all coming between the years 2004-2011, in his 17 years as head coach of the Salthawk program. He had built one of the best dynasties in Kansas that had only one playoff appearance before he had taken over. Hutchinson was on a 26 game losing streak when Dreiling took over. 

Although Aquinas has never won a state football title, Dreiling wasn't coming into a losing streak situation like he did with Hutchinson in the nineties. However, he has already equaled the best success Aquinas has had in one year by making their first title appearance since 2008.

"I am impressed with our players commitment. They bought into everything we have done. They felt we had a pretty good plan in place," Dreiling said. "Give them credit, they were willing to do what we had in place. It's pretty remarkable for them." 

The Saints will take on state power Bishop Carroll in the 5A state title game on Saturday. Carroll is 12-0 on the season and has outscored opponents 643-to-48 on the season. The Golden Eagles closest game was a 29 point win against Wichita Northwest in week one. Coach Dreiling knows it will be a big task to defeat the Eagles on Saturday. Carroll features one of the best players in senior running back, Denzel Goolsby, who has committed to Kansas State.

"We have played some good teams this year in the EKL, so I think our schedule has prepared us. Carroll is very good. They are physical," Dreiling said. "I think they are very similar to Bishop Miege."

Aquinas (9-3) has been hampered by injuries all season. They lost to EKL powers Bishop Miege, the number one team in 4A-I, and last years 5A champion, Blue Valley, in the regular season. Their last loss came to Pittsburg in week nine of district play. In that game they lost their leading rusher, James Cosentino, who had over 1,000 yards of rushing in nine games.

"We've had so many players hurt. Our top three running backs have been hurt. It's been a roller coaster ride, but other kids have stepped up to fill those spots." Dreiling said. 

The Saints flexbone offense is led by quarterback Karter Odermann who has rushed for 1,043 yards (12 TD) and passed for 725 yards (10 TD) in 2014. Kyle Bollig has stepped in nicely as the fullback position for the Saints and has chipped in 730 yards (3 TD). Cosentino finished the season with 1,296 rushing yards (14 TD) after his week nine injury. 

The defense is led by Nick Gadwood who has 105 tackles in 2014. Ben Ewing and Chris Bollig each have over 80 tackles for the Saints. 

Dreiling isn't the first coach with ties to the Hutchinson program to bring immediate success to Kansas City. Dreiling's former assistant, Dustin Delaney, has Shawnee Mission East (6A) playing for their second state title in a row in his second year as the head coach. Delaney will take on his and Dreiling's former team, Hutchinson, in the 6A state title Saturday in Emporia. 

Saturday's kickoff is set for 1:00 P.M at Pittsburg State's Carnie Smith Stadium. Dreiling is no stranger to Pittsburg as his son, Nate Dreiling, was a four-time All-American linebacker at Pittsburg State and the schools all-time leading tackler from 2010-2013. St. Thomas Aquinas, who has been a school since 1988 with 19 playoff appearances, has never had a state football title in the playoff era and took second in their only appearance (2008). The 2008 Aquinas team lost to Dreiling and Hutchinson in the 5A title game.