Dade schools are in the hunt for historic season


Booker T. Washington and Dade Christian are playing for state championships this weekend in Orlando.

How many teams will also get a shot to do the same in the Citrus Bowl next week and make it a historic season for Miami-Dade County?

Three teams are the most the county has ever had playing at state in one season, and two titles in one season are the most it has ever won.

Booker T. and Dade Christian can match the title record. Central, Columbus and Jackson all have big obstacles to overcome in this week’s semifinals if they are to join the party next week.

Class 5A state semifinal — Jackson (8-4) vs. Immokalee (10-3) at Traz Powell: The special season for the Generals continued after another tremendous performance in one of the state’s most hostile environments at Belle Glade.

Jackson will take on a tougher opponent in Immokalee with a chance to advance to state for the first time in the school’s long history.

The advantage is the Generals are home at Traz Powell Stadium, which takes the Indians out of their comfort zone. Immokalee is more talented than Glades Central. But at this point, there isn’t much more that Jackson won’t be ready to face. Andre’s pick: Jackson 32, Immokalee 30.

Class 6A state semifinal — Central (10-2) at Naples (13-0): Rockets should beware of a road game at Naples. Nearly a decade ago, a loaded, state-title favorite named Edison ventured west to Naples and returned home with a 41-0 defeat.

This Naples team has proved to be one of the state’s best this season and Golden Eagles coach Bill Kramer, a former coach at American, knows how to beat faster and stronger Dade teams.

But Central will have the two most special players on the field in Dalvin Cook and Joe Yearby. If they make plays on both sides, and Central’s young defense can step up when it counts as it has all year, the Rockets will survive. Andre’s pick: Central 38, Naples 35.

Class 8A state semifinal — Columbus (9-4) at Cypress Bay (11-2): Cypress Bay coach Mark Guandolo is making his 10th appearance in the state semifinal and second with the Lightning in three seasons.

For the second year in a row, Columbus and its coach Chris Merritt have made it to the brink of clinching the school’s first trip to state since 1982.

Both mirror each other with talented and powerful running backs and tough defenses leading the way. Columbus has been playing much better in the playoffs as has Cypress Bay. This is Columbus’ best chance to win a state title. But it must prove it can win a monumental game like this one on the road. Andre’s pick: Cypress Bay 28, Columbus 27.

Class 4A state championship — Booker T. Washington (12-1) vs. Jacksonville Bolles (12-1) at 7 p.m., Saturday, Citrus Bowl: This game is all about redemption for Booker T. Washington. The Tornadoes’ sole focus since blowing a 13-point fourth quarter lead against Bolles in last year’s final has been to get another chance against the Bulldogs.

Bolles is the state’s all-time winningest program with 11 state titles and coached by one of the state’s legends in Charles “Corky” Rogers. But even he admitted his team’s advancement to state this year has been a pleasant surprise.

For Booker T. Washington, one of the nation’s best and most complete teams, this should be a coronation if it sticks to its strengths and avoids any mental lapses. Andre’s pick: Booker T. 34, Bolles 20.

Class 2A state championship — Dade Christian (12-0) vs. Jacksonville University Christian (12-1) at 1 p.m., Friday, Citrus Bowl: Dade Christian, a school that is 51 years old, will make its state final debut against a University Christian squad looking to restore its once-proud championship tradition.

University Christian, winners of six state titles, hasn’t been to state since 1994. But with quarterback Tim Betros, a Jacksonville Bolles transfer, leading an offense that has amassed nearly 3,500 rushing yards this season, the Christians have the look of the typically dominant North Florida powerhouses.

Dade Christian has overcome the odds all season with its versatile and resilient players who have overcome numerous injuries and managed to remain Dade’s only undefeated team. Andre’s pick: Dade Christian 22, University Christian 21.

Andre’s record — Last week: 5-0; Season: 255-74.

NOTE: All games Friday at 7:30 p.m. unless noted.

Read more Miami-Dade High Schools stories from the Miami Herald

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