Roger Harriott, the head football coach of St. Thomas Aquinas, has been named Coach of the Year for leading his exceptionally talented Raiders team, again, to the Class 7A Florida state championship. This is Harriott’s seventh season as head coach for the Raiders. The team defeated St. Frances Academy of Baltimore at the beginning of 2021 and continued to pick up victories over American Heritage, Gainesville Buchholz, Cardinal Gibbons, Dillard, Western, and others, leading to its appearance at the Class 7A title game. Under Harriott, St. Thomas Aquinas outscored its rivals 640 to 171. St. Thomas solidified its place at the championship game with a defeat of Tampa Bay Tech. This year’s championship marks the third consecutive state title for Harriott’s program.
In 2015, when Harriott took over the role of head coach at his alma mater, he has transformed St. Thomas into a powerhouse team with a national ranking. In 2021, Harriott led the team back from the disappointment of not winning a national championship in 2020. The Raiders started the 2020 season as the top-ranked team in the United States, but in the first week of competition, suffered a heartbreaking loss to Booker T. Washington in a game that St. Thomas was well on the way to winning until officials ruled in the final moments that a St. Thomas touchdown pass was stopped just short of the goal line.
Harriott successfully managed his team’s emotions after the devastating loss and kept members motivated throughout 2021 in an effort that culminated in becoming the Class 7A state champions.
Commenting on the season’s success, Harriott said that at St. Thomas there is an environment that is cultivated to strategically develop an “interdependent brotherhood” and a “family-oriented camaraderie,” as well as focusing on the goal of ultimately “being a champion in life.” He added that football is a tool that is used to ensure the team members become productive members of society and champions at being fathers and family men in the future.
Harriott was an all-county running back at St. Thomas Aquinas in 1994 before he went on to play college football at Boston University and Villanova. He had his first job as head coach at University School in Davie, Florida, where he transformed their program and won a state championship in 2012. He credits George Smith, former STA head coach, and Stan Drayton, former coach of the Villanova running backs, as inspirations in his professional career. He said that watching Coach Smith’s dedication to the game and his pioneering holistic development process in high school football provided guidance and support to all the players, coaches, and affiliates in the state. Roger Harriott also said that Coach Drayton taught him about the value of an “unyielding work ethic” and the importance of being a good role model.
Photo and Information Source – Sun-Sentinel, Roger Harriott