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Aquinas Ready To Win 1st Title At Top Class

Lil' Irish take on Monroe-Woodbury in AA Finals Sunday
The best part about making the state finals for Aquinas? They won't have to play another game at the frozen tundra of Sahlen's Stadium.

"If you weren't there, it was indescribable," said sophomore quarterback Jake Zembiec.

"It was probably the worst game I ever played in weather-wise," said senior linebacker Charlie Rist. "There was ice all over the field. I got scrapes all over my body."

Even the usual coaching motivation lacked some sincerity. "I had to yell at the kids 'its not that cold outside'," said Head Coach Chris Battaglia. "I was freezing. It was cold."

The Irish will be under the Carrier Dome roof on Sunday. Battaglia believes it's because this is one of the most unselfish teams he's ever had. "If Jake and Donato (Clemente) and Alonzo (Turney) and Luch (Pietropoalo--all Aquinas skill players) wanted stats, we'd have a lot of trouble," Battaglia said. "We just don't do that."

The unselfishness shows especially on offense. Through five playoff games, the Irish have had only one 100-yard rushing game and Zembiec has passed for over 200 yards just once.

"That was definitely the key to our success so far," said senior running back and receiver Donato Clemente. "Sharing the ball... keeping people unprepared for what we were going to do and who we were going to give the ball to."

"We're definitely dynamic. That's been an easy way to pick up a couple victories this year," Zembiec said. "We've got the tools everywhere. People who need to step up, step up in big situations."

Aquinas has the opportunity to check off maybe one of the only open boxes left in their illustrious football history. The program moved up to Class AA two years ago. With a win, the Irish would be the best team in the state in the state's highest classification for the first time ever.

"Even in 2010 when we won (a state title), people were saying 'its in Class A... there are better classes than you'," Rist said. "If we win it this year, there'd be nothing above us. We'd be at the top."

"I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to win one at Double-A because people said we couldn't do it," Battaglia said. "It's a great accomplishment to get there and I told some of the kids that it's up to them now."
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