Tim “Ice” Harris shared his team’s excitement when he saw the national polls earlier this summer.
“It makes you appreciate all the teams that have played for Booker T. in the past because they worked so hard, and they’re the ones that put us in the position we’re in going into a season like this,” Harris said.
Booker T. earned a top 10 national ranking in nearly every poll, including a No. 1 spot by USA Today entering its game last week at Norcross (Ga.) - a game it won 55-0.
Harris is quick to stress to his players that the task for the Tornadoes is to protect their spot at the top.
That shouldn’t be a problem for one of the most complete teams in the country this season.
Booker T. Washington is an overwhelming favorite to repeat as state champions in Class 4A a year after winning the school’s second state title in six years.
But the Tornadoes are hoping to become the first Dade team since Northwestern in 2007 to win a national championship.
The Tornadoes then face Miami Central, ranked No.1 in the nation by Rivals.com, two weeks later and travel to Las Vegas to take on nationally ranked Bishop Gorman on Oct. 4.
Booker T. also has games against Miami Jackson, Miami Norland, Miami Carol City and Miami Northwestern.
The playoff road to Orlando got a little tougher as well.
Davie University School, the defending Class 3A state champions, moved up to Class 4A and could square off against the Tornadoes in the second round of the playoffs.
“All the rankings did was motivate us because we understand that it’s not where you start, it’s where you finish,” Harris said.
“The kids understand the situation playing for a state championship and with the schedule we play we know that we have to play well week in and week out.”
Harris’ son, Treon, is the key cog in an offense that averaged 50 points per game last season.
Harris, a Florida State University commitment, proved himself one of the most versatile quarterbacks in the state last season.
Harris led the county in passing with 2,587 yards and 32 touchdowns while throwing only seven interceptions on 138-of-226 passing. Harris also ran for 751 yards and 15 touchdowns.
“Our offense might be even better this year,” Treon Harris said.
“We’ve got bigger and better and faster guys. The defense pursues to the ball. They’re quick.”
Harris has a number of talented wide receivers, led by Lamar Parker, Deltron Hopkins and Terrawn McPhee.
Parker, a West Virginia commitment, caught 32 passes for 554 yards and six touchdowns last season.
Krondis Larry returns in the backfield along with promising sophomore Mark Walton.
Larry ran for 802 yards and 13 touchdowns last season, and Walton ran for 432 yards and nine touchdowns.
Great defenses have been a staple of Booker T. football for years under coach Ice Harris. This year shouldn’t be different.
Senior defensive ends Chad Thomas, Tevin Evans and Demetrius Jackson and junior Andre Duncombe are stalwarts up front.
Thomas, a University of Miami commitment, will be counted on to provide pressure on opposing quarterbacks along with Jackson, a rising star who has also excelled on the basketball court for the Tornadoes.
Junior Terry Jefferson anchors the linebacker spot, and one of the nation’s best secondaries is led by senior Nigel Bethel II, also a UM commitment.