You want an honest conversation?
Okay, let's begin.
Calling St. Thomas Aquinas a high school football program stretches imagination to its limits.
In all reality, it's what is commonly called a football factory. The number of high NFL draft picks that comprise the St. Thomas Aquinas alumni list didn't just come through the doors because they happen to live in the neighborhood.
Aquinas boasts of good coaching and lavish facilities, which we won't refute, but you win with players and that's where this program separates itself from high school football throughout most of the country.
We won't even use that dirty "R" word. No, we won't mention recruiting and how much of a role it might or might not have played in Aquinas winning eight state and two national titles and topping the list of high schools with the most players on the 2015 NFL weekend rosters.
Somehow, this roster keeps replenishing itself on an annual basis.
Aquinas starting quarterback Jake Allen came from Cardinal Gibbons and running back James Charles played for Coconut Creek last season. Center Louis Berkowitz comes from American Heritage and defensive end Nikolas Bonitto played at University School.
One of the biggest-name transfers is receiver Michael Irvin Jr., a 220-pound senior tight end from Plano, Texas, who came to Aquinas prior to the season to play for the school that launched the career of his Hall-of-Fame father Michael Irvin.
Kedonis Haslem, son of the Miami Heat's Udonis Haslem, transferred in prior to the season. The 6-foot-4, 290-pound junior defensive lineman played for Dade Christian in 2014.
Irving told the Miami Herald in an August story that he was going to switch to another school in Texas, but decided on Aquinas because it's a better program and he wants to win a state title.
"I need a ring," he was quoted as saying.
Aquinas head coach Roger Harriott told the Herald he couldn't provide an exact number of new transfers on his varsity roster this season, but that some came from Canada, Ireland, Haiti and Jamaica.
Every student-athlete has the right to transfer and improve their chances of obtaining a scholarship to a high-level program, but let's keep this scenario in perspective as we get ready to kick off the Braden River-Aquinas Class 7A state semifinal Friday night.
Success in college football is about 90-percent recruiting, most experts tell us. We won't use that dirty little "R" word, but success at Aquinas certainly has a lot to do with all these players that keep showing up at the doorstep of the Fort Lauderdale school annually.
It's a big reason that the Braden River-Aquinas matchup is more than just a football game. It's about an ideology: What is the purpose of this sport at this level?
High school football has changed significantly in the last decade with teams flying around the country and trying to get their moment on ESPN. There is money to be made off high school football teams and those in a position to reap those rewards are deeply involved.
But here's the kicker for local fans: It's better to be playing for Braden River.
You would be hard-pressed to find anyone outside of Manatee County that knows something about high school football who gives Braden River a chance to win this game. But that's the beauty of it for this program, which didn't play a full varsity schedule until 2007.
The pressure is on St. Thomas Aquinas because it is overloaded with talent. And if the Raiders win, virtually everyone will say "no big deal" because they have all that talent.
The Pirates can play loose and shouldn't feel a bit of pressure. If they happen to win, it will be likened to shot heard round the word.
Now who would you rather be playing for on this night, 21 days before Christmas?