High school football | Friday: Booker T. Washington vs. University School, 7:30 p.m.

The wait is over for Booker T. Washington vs. University School

 

Defending state champions Booker T. Washington and Davie University School will meet in the playoffs.

a1fernandez@MiamiHerald.com

Miami Booker T. Washington and Davie University School seemed destined to play each other this season.

But having it happen in the playoffs made it special.

“This is the type of game you want to play in order to win a championship,” Booker T. coach Tim “Ice” Harris said. “To finally get this game is something we’re excited about. Even if the state had not put us both in the same class, I think we would have tried to put this game together in the regular season.

“It’s even better now because of the fact it’s in a winner-take-all [scenario].”

The debate that began in January when the Florida High School Athletic Association moved University School up to Class 4A will be settled Friday night when the Suns host Booker T., the consensus No.-1 ranked team in the nation, in the Region 4-4A final at 7:30 p.m. at Nova High School.

The game marks the first time two defending state champions from South Florida meet in the playoffs the following season.

“[University] Coach [Roger] Harriott put a tough schedule for us on purpose,” senior quarterback Sean White said. “We’ve had to fight through adversity. We’ve faced tough teams, and it will get us ready having seen some things a team like Booker T. can do. It won’t feel like we’re facing an NFL team or anything like that.”

Although not a professional team, Booker T.’s résumé entering this game is nonetheless impressive.

The Tornadoes (11-0) are on a 23-game winning streak that this season includes two out-of-state victories in Georgia (Norcross) and Las Vegas (Bishop Gorman) as well as a win over fellow national powerhouse Miami Central. The Tornadoes are getting healthy with star senior quarterback Treon Harris making his first start in more than a month against Glades Central this past Saturday.

“It’s been a grind, but good for us because we’ve been able to get battle-tested through all of this,” Harris said. “Our backups have been able to respond with all these injuries. We’ve shown signs of being that great team we want to be.”

University School (9-2) slipped from the national rankings a few weeks ago following losses to Bradenton Manatee and Central. University, a team that had won 19 in a row prior to those defeats, has adjusted to the unfamiliar feeling and remains confident it can pull off an upset.

“We’re really feeling confident this week, and I think we have a chance to knock them off the top,” senior defensive end Brandon Boyce said. “If our defensive line does what it can do best, I think we can contain Treon and not let him make big plays.”

University School, a seven-year old football program that won its first state title last season in Class 3A, had not dealt with a regular-season loss for more than two years. Before its undefeated season last year, the Suns went undefeated during the 2011 regular season before losing in the playoffs against Delray American Heritage.

“The good thing that comes out of losses is that it shows your weaknesses more,” University School defensive coordinator Chad Wilson said. “That’s something we haven’t had to deal with too much around here. In 2011, once we saw some of the things we did wrong it was too late.

“The losses to Central and Manatee showed us some things we need to correct in terms of schemes and personnel. It’s a good thing a light was shed on these things. It helped us get after the players more and realize what needs to be adjusted."

One of University’s biggest issues in both losses was stopping the run. Booker T. can run the football with several speedy backs such as Mark Walton and Krondis Larry. But the Tornadoes can also pass with Harris and a speedy core of receivers.

“They have very good athletes fast and physical and they fight to the ball,” University senior linebacker Brandon Russell said. “I think our pass defense will give us a chance. We’ve added some new packages in there to adjust to the running game.”

Pass protection is paramount and something the Suns are hoping to disrupt in order to have a chance.

“We just have to fight off the ball better as an offensive line,” University offensive lineman Mike Irizarry said. “We need to put our hands on them and keep moving with them and give Sean enough time to throw the ball and get our running game going.”

One thing the Tornadoes can do is match the physicality Central showed in its lopsided 28-3 victory against University two weeks ago.

“We have to be physical and tackle well because that’s a very talented team,” Harris said. “Watching them against Central showed us that if we can keep being physical for all 48 minutes, we’ll be fine.”

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

  • Roundup

    Two Cooper City athletes sign with colleges

    Cooper City pitcher and first baseman Johnny Haney signed a scholarship with the Point Park University (Pittsburgh) baseball team. The left-hander is 6-0 so far this season with 31 strikeouts, three complete games and 1.28 ERA. He is hitting .317 with a homerun, 13 RBI and 16 runs scored.

  • High Schools roundup

    Doctors Charter boys’ track relay teams qualifiy for states

    The Dade Christian boys’ track 4x100 relay team will head to the State Championship for its second year in a row. Abigael Neus, Sam Mompremier, Jeanmaxon Adrien, and Cameron Floyd. Darwin Abreu qualified fourth overall in the mile. The 4x400 relay team, Torrian Wallace, Jovyn Pierre, Andrew Dodds, and Jonathan Gill needed to finish fourth out of 16 teams and run under a 3:42 to qualify for states. Freshman Jonathan Gill lead the team to a time of 3:36, awarding them fourth place to also qualify them for states.

  • State Tennis Championship

    Ransom Everglades’ Allegra Hanlon galls short of state title

    Everything seemed in place for Allegra Hanlon to end her high-school career with one more tennis championship. Then the rains came.

Get your Miami Heat Fan Gear!

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category