Carol City’s victories so far have demonstrated the team’s improvement from last season.
What the Chiefs did Friday night at Traz Powell Stadium might be a sign they are ready to recapture their status among Miami-Dade County’s elite.
Led by a gutsy effort from its quarterback Akeem Jones and its defense, Carol City beat longtime rival Northwestern 20-14 in a crucial District 16-6A game in front of a crowd of more than 6,000 fans.
The Chiefs (3-1, 1-0), who have not made the playoffs since 2009, beat the Bulls (3-1, 0-1) for the first time since a second-round playoff victory in 2004. Northwestern had won the past six meetings, including a 48-12 win last season.
“All we talked about all week long is, ‘How bad do you want it?’ ” Jones said.
“I think this is our shot this season and this proves we can be in Orlando at the end of the season.”
Although it is still early in the season, Barnwell acknowledged that the win was a signature victory that Carol City’s program has been hoping for to revive one of Miami-Dade’s richest football traditions.
“This means we’re one step closer to the playoffs,” Carol City coach Harold Barnwell said. “It means a lot to us because we make this a team environment, and it’s about everyone stepping up for each other.”
Carol City earned 12 consecutive playoff berths from 1995 to 2006 and won three state titles under legendary former coach Walt Frazier.
Barnwell, an alumnus and assistant under Frazier, led Carol City to the playoffs in 2008 and 2009. But his team, which went 4-5 last year, has not been able to maintain that level of success seemingly until this season.
“We haven’t lost a lot of kids this year that in the past have transferred to other schools,” Barnwell said. “We’re not starting all over like we’ve had to some years. You see how these kids have dedicated themselves.”
Jones, who had a wardrobe malfunction in the first quarter when his jersey was ripped while being tackled, persevered throughout the game evading pressure and making big plays with his speed.
Jones threw a pair of touchdown passes and ran for the go-ahead score on a 1-yard quarterback sneak late in the third quarter. He completed 13 of 22 passes for 171 yards, starting the game wearing No. 1 on his jersey before having to change to use another with No. 22 on it.
Carol City’s defense did the rest recovering a fumble that stifled
Northwestern’s ensuing drive. The Chiefs later stopped Northwestern on downs again midway through the fourth quarter when Joseph Robinson was stopped for a 1-yard loss on fourth and 1 from the Carol City 24-yard line.
Simeon Thomas made a momentum-changing play in the third quarter that helped Carol City erase a 14-7 deficit. Thomas picked off Northwestern quarterback Randy Jones and returned it 30 yards to the Bulls’ 26. On the next play, Akeem Jones lobbed a pass into the corner of the end zone that
Gregory Conde juggled and managed to control in bounds for the score.
Carol City then ran enough time off the clock before punting and leaving Northwestern only 49 seconds to make a last-gasp attempt at a comeback from its own 19. The Bulls did not reach midfield.
“This team did it for me and we all did it for each other,” said Jones, who also connected with William French for a 60-yard touchdown to tie the game at 7 in the first quarter. “Our defense is the strength of our team. They made amazing plays.”