FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- If Jake Rudock's (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas) feeling the pressure of being the quarterback for one of Florida's most title-hungry programs, you wouldn't know it from the big smile on his face.
The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder could be smiling after throwing for a school-record 333 yards and four touchdowns in Friday's 42-28 victory over Camden County (Kingsland, Ga.). Or he could be smiling because he has two of the top receivers in the region -- FSU commit Rashad Greene and Miami commit Phillip Dorsett -- hauling in his passes.
But more than likely, Rudock is just smiling because he's just a young man who enjoys every minute of playing football for St. Thomas Aquinas.
"How can you not love to play here with so many great players and all of this tremendous support," said Rudock. "It's everyone from the fans, to the coaches, to the administration. Everyone here is great."
One of the reasons Rudock made his commitment to Iowa is because the Hawkeyes gave him that "Aquinas feel" when he took his trip to Iowa City.
"It was just a nice, tight-knit place and the fans are excited about the team and so supportive of the program," said Rudock.
Friday night, Rudock gave the Hawkeyes faithful plenty to be excited about. He came out of the gate challenging Camden County on the deep ball and quickly found Greene and Dorsett for big plays.
"I saw from the film that they like to play real tight coverage and bring the safeties up," Rudock said. "So we tried to get some big plays over the top."
The big plays were made early and often. Rudock hit Greene to convert a third-and-30, which set up a touchdown pass to Dorsett for a 7-0 lead.
On the Raiders' next possession, Rudock and Dorsett hooked up again, this time for an 80-yarder that gave the Raiders a 14-7 lead.
"Jake was definitely in a zone," Dorsett said. "We tend to be a bit of a running team, so whenever we can get the big passing plays it's nice."
Rudock bested the record of 311 yards set by Danny Shula in the 2001 Class 4A state championship game against Lincoln (Tallahassee, Fla.)
When Rudock wasn't throwing the ball around the yard, he showed some impressive wheels by running for a first down on a third and long with the Raiders clinging to a 27-21 lead.
"I might have surprised somebody with that one," Rudock joked. "I don't think they expect too much running from me."
With the season just four games in, there is plenty of work for Rudock and the Raiders to do if they want to win a sixth state championship. Many fans are hoping for a rematch in the Class 5A state semifinals against Manatee (Bradenton, Fla.).
This year's game, if it happens, could help determine a national championship as well.
"It's definitely something that's in the back of our minds," Rudock said. "We know there's a long way to go this season and we're going to take it game-by-game. But we all think about last season and we made a promise to work hard, so that wouldn't happen again."
Rudock is no stranger to the national stage, with Friday's victory he is 4-0 in nationally televised games. It was a magical night for Rudock and now he hopes to bring that Friday night magic to Kinnick Stadium on Saturdays in the future.
Corey Long has been covering high school football and recruiting in the Sunshine State since 1995. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.