NEW ORLEANS – For St. Thomas Aquinas senior defensive tackle Anthony Moten, Thursday morning’s flight to New Orleans was no big deal.
After all, Moten played in Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas with St. Thomas as a freshman, and went to Hoover, Ala., the following year for another regular-season game.
But for junior receiver Devante Peete, the Southwest flight here was very much an exciting, and at first uneasy, experience.
That’s because it was Peete’s, and many other Raiders players’, first time on a plane.
“It was nice. I was kind of afraid of the plane ride, but the team got me through it,” Peete said.
St. Thomas players met at the school for breakfast Thursday, then headed to Fort Lauderdale airport. They ate lunch at the airport after landing in New Orleans, then bussed straight to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, where they practiced for about 75 minutes.
The team left its gear at the stadium for Friday night’s game against John Curtis Christian (La.) and departed for the hotel. The Raiders planned to return to the stadium later Thursday night for a team dinner in one of the banquet suites, something they also did in Cincinnati in 2008 when they made their first-ever trip out of Florida.
The team has no sightseeing activities planned, though players will be able to explore some on their own after meetings and prior to a 10:30 p.m. bed check. The Raiders will have lunch and a pregame meal based at the hotel Friday before leaving for the Superdome, which is situated a little more than a mile from their hotel.
“It’s a great experience for the kids to get out and go to places they’ve never been before. It’s good camaraderie amongst the guys, brings the team together,” Coach Rocco Casullo said of the trip.