Jesuit football defeated Largo 31-0 on Friday night (Nov. 25) to capture the Region Championship for the 5th straight season and 7th time in the past 8 years.
The Tigers will travel to Friday's Class 3M State Semifinal at unbeaten and Top 10 nationally ranked Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas. The game is a rematch from the regular season last year, when STA traveled to Jesuit and the Tigers prevailed, 24-21. Both teams went on to win State Championships in 2021, Jesuit in Class 6A, STA in Class 7A, and both finished nationally ranked in the Top 10.
With Friday's win vs. Largo, the Tigers completed a dominating run through the Region. Jesuit defeated its three playoff opponents (St. Petersburg, Gaither, Largo) by a combined 128-10.
The offense has been led by Joquez Smith '23, who is putting the finishing touches on a historic prep football career. Smith scored two more rushing TDs vs. Largo, giving him 19 TDs this season and a total of 75 in his Jesuit career. He is nine TDs shy of the all-time Hillsborough County record of 84 set by Malik Davis '17, who now plays for the Dallas Cowboys.
Smith, a four-year standout, has 4,968 career rushing yards; he can become one of just a handful of players in county history to eclipse the 5,000-yard rushing mark. Davis also is No. 1 all-time in the county in career rushing yards with 7,029. Ray Ray McLeod (Sickles, 2011-14) is second with 5,765, and others with more than 5,000 include Riverview's Avious Steadman with 5,320 yards from 1998-01.
On defense the Tigers have been phenomenal, allowing just 3.3 points per game in the playoffs. Safety Troy Bowles '23, like Smith, is capping off a stellar four-year career, and he has had three interception return TDs in the past four games. DL Peter Pesansky '24 (13 sacks) and S Drew Woodaz '24 (key interception vs. Largo) also have had a major impact.
St. Thomas Aquinas (12-0), ranked No. 7 nationally by MaxPreps, has won 33 of its past 34 games, with the lone loss coming at the hands of the Tigers last September, 24-21.
Go to the Facebook page Jesuit High School Football - Tampa for dozens of photos from the Largo game, and many more posts with photos and video from previous games.