In My Opinion

Booker T., Jackson lead Miami-Dade contenders

 

a1fernandez@MiamiHerald.com

In Class 4A, Booker T. Washington is gearing up for a run at a national championship.

In Class 5A, Jackson looks like one of the favorites to make it to Orlando.

But will Miami-Dade County have two more teams in the Citrus Bowl at the state championships in December?

Miami Westminster Christian hopes to be the county’s representative in Class 3A this season.

The Warriors have a number of weapons on offense, led by junior all-around athletes Tim Irvin and Jordan Cronkrite.

Senior quarterback Hunter Boyette is back after missing most of last season due to injury. His absence was a missing ingredient on a team that lost 38-21 to eventual district champion Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna.

Adding to Westminster’s talent pool is the arrival of junior Devonare Clarington, a transfer from Southridge who has the potential to become one of the county’s top receivers.

This season, the Warriors are assured a playoff spot in a two-team district with Chaminade formed after the Florida High School Athletic Association’s realignment moved defending Class 3A state champ Davie University School up to Class 4A.

To reach state, however, Westminster Christian not only has to overcome Chaminade, but Delray Beach American Heritage as well.

In Class 2A, Dade Christian graduated a number of players from last year’s 13-1 state runner-up squad. And with a talent influx at rival Champagnat Catholic, it’s the Lions who are being touted as a favorite to get to Orlando.

Champagnat has a number of FBS school prospects, including defensive tackle Travonte Valentine, a University of Miami commitment; safety Michael Johnson, a Louisville commitment; and athlete Frank Labady, a Cincinnati commitment. The Lions went 2-9 last season, losing in the first round to Belle Glade Glades Day with a pretty talented squad already. Will everything click for the Lions a year later on the road to state?

Power rankings

1. Booker T. Washington: With a USA Today No. 1 national ranking to start the season and one of the most complete teams in their history, the Tornadoes are everyone’s pick to repeat as state champions in Class 4A.

2. Jackson: Will this be the dream season Jackson has been waiting so long for? Quarterback Quinton Flowers and company have the skills to finish the job they began with a state semifinals appearance last season in Class 5A.

3. Westminster Christian: A solid core of juniors led by Tim Irvin and senior Hunter Boyette back from injury has the potential to catapult the Warriors to a district title and more.

4. Gulliver: The Raiders are talented enough to make the playoffs again, but Booker T. Washington presents a monumental roadblock once there.

5. Monsignor Pace: The Spartans lost some key players but still have enough weapons to challenge Gulliver for the runner-up spot in District 8-4A.

6. Champagnat Catholic: The young program, in its fourth year, is more talented than ever. But can it all come together to make a run at the Class 2A title?

7. Dade Christian: All the hype surrounding Champagnat has to give the defending Class 2A state runners-up extra motivation to prove it is still the team to beat.

8. Edison: The Red Raiders couldn’t come up with that key win last season to sneak into the playoffs. Lack of depth will make it tough for Edison to get back there this year.

9. Barrington Christian: Former Belen assistant Tee Wooten takes over for Don Chaney and has a squad decent enough to finish in the middle of the pack in District 8-2A.

10. La Salle: The Royal Lions should still be one of the better teams in the South Division of the independent SEC.

11. Florida Christian: Senior Jeremiah Tejedor leads an experienced squad that will try to improve upon last year’s success in the independent Southeastern Conference.

12. Doral: A move to independent status should help Firebirds coach Steve Smith to start building them into winners.

13. Keys Gate: Only a second-year program, but in a talent-rich area in Homestead.

14. Ransom Everglades: The loss of 14 starters will be tough to replace.

15. Archbishop Carroll: The Bulldogs hit rock bottom last season. Playing independent football, they’ll start trying to make their way back up this year.

16. Archbishop Curley: The Knights might have a chance to get back to a winning season in the Southeastern Conference.

17. Miami Country Day: Wins have been scarce the past two seasons, but that could change a bit this year.

18. Hillel: With key starters returning, the Hurricanes should do well in the newly formed Gulf Atlantic Independent League.

19. Palmer Trinity: Mostly freshmen and sophomores leading the Falcons.

20. Northwest Christian: The Eagles lost their two biggest playmakers.

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

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