ORLANDO -- The ice bath Tim Harris took with two minutes still on the clock Saturday night at The Citrus Bowl didn’t exactly cool him off.
The 49-year old Booker T. Washington football coach was his usual intense self, dropping an array of colorful words for the referees between the 17 flags the Tornadoes were hit with. But finishing the season as consensus national champions — when the final polls are released in a few weeks — ought to make the man known around Overtown as “Ice” feel a lot better.
“We were watching our season highlights on the bus ride up and he kind of got teary eyed,” said Tim Harris Jr., Ice’s eldest son and the Tornadoes offensive coordinator.
“He started thinking about how through all his years of coaching — being at Miami High, going to Northwestern, Central, back to Northwestern and then his years here — he’s never been able to say he had the best team in the country.”
Harris can now.
The Tornadoes, ranked No. 1 in all seven national polls, reeled off their 26th consecutive win Saturday night, storming past Jacksonville Bolles in the Class 4A state final for the second year in a row.
The final score, 40-21, marked the 10th time this season Booker T. scored at least 40 points in a game. That’s a rather large accomplishment considering 13 of the 14 teams Booker T. beat have at least one state championship on their resume.
The guy Harris beat for the second year in a row Saturday, Bolles coach Corky Rogers, owns the state record with 10 state titles. It might not be long before Harris catches him.
Because if you ask Harris, he’s not going anywhere.
“God put me on this earth to help develop young people from a high school perspective,” said Harris, who joined Nick Kotys (4), Billy Rolle (3) and Walt Frazier as the only other coaches in Miami-Dade County history to win at least three state titles.
“I know right now from watching our development the last three years you never know what might happen, if an offer may come. But right now I’m grounded to what we’re doing and Booker T. Washington High School.”
The Tornadoes will be losing 15 senior starters from this year’s squad including Harris’ youngest son, star quarterback Treon Harris. He is supposed to be headed to Florida State along with another half dozen major Division 1 recruits.
With only seven starters expected back — including sophomore running back Mark Walton, who ran for 124 yards and two touchdowns Saturday — some outside the program believe the Tornadoes will stumble. But nobody around Booker T. thinks this title run is over.
“It feels great to be a national champion, but this is just the beginning, just the start,” Walton said. “This is going to be my team now. I’m going to try to make a bigger impact, and lead my team to the state championship again next year.”
Northwestern owns the county record for the longest winning streak at 37 games. It stretched from 2006 to 2008. The Bulls were national champions in 2007. That’s the next carrot Harris plans to dangle over his player’s heads come August.
“We feel good about the way we develop our young kids,” said Harris, who in his eight seasons as a head coach (99-10 record) has never been eliminated before the state semifinal round.
“Every year you’re going to lose kids. But it’s the reload factor, how you develop them, the twos and threes. We’re going to continue to work and play like champions. I can tell you we’ll begin fighting again in January so we’re right back here with another team we assemble.”