Booker T. Washington is chasing its fifth consecutive state championship, which would be the longest streak in state history in the playoff era (1963 on).
And American Heritage is hoping to win its third state crown in four seasons.
But for Carol City and Chaminade-Madonna, it’s been over a decade since either school felt what winning a state title was like.
All four programs have something in common this Thanksgiving weekend.
They each have to overcome difficult central Florida obstacles to stay on course on the road to state.
RETURN TO GLORY?
▪ Chaminade won state titles in 2003 and 2005 and was one of the most feared small school programs in the state.
It’s taken the Lions some time to return to championship contender status.
A program that won only two playoff games since Guandolo’s departure in 2006 took its first steps last season under then-coach Jason Milgrom and has doubled that total this season under former Hallandale coach Dameon Jones.
Chaminade has taken things up a notch in the playoffs with two impressive victories over West Palm Beach Cardinal Newman and West Palm Beach Oxbridge Academy.
Junior running back Shaun Shivers has run for a combined 360 yards and four touchdowns on 29 carries in those two games, which has provided a perfect complement to the passing game upon quarterback Henry Colombi’s return from injury.
The Lions’ defense has allowed only 13 points in the playoffs, but faces a major test from an unbeaten Melbourne Central Catholic squad that is hosting its first state semifinal. The Hustlers (11-0) are averaging 213.9 rushing yards per game and passing for 211.6 yards per game led by junior quarterback Joaquin Collazo (2116 yards, 26 TDs, 8 INT).
▪ Unbeaten Daytona Beach Mainland is very confident it can fare much better against Carol City than it did in four previous playoff meetings with Miami Central.
The Bucs (11-0) are led by versatile senior quarterback Denzel Houston, and have numerous returning stars that endured those tough losses to the Rockets. Carol City’s defense, which has been dominant all season, will have to slow down a Bucs’ offense that enters the game averaging 48.6 points per game and is considered by many to be one of its best ever.
Carol City is hoping to corral Houston and put constant pressure on him as it did last week when the Chiefs sacked Northwestern quarterback Tutu Atwell seven times. But slowing down Mainland’s running game will be the key.
Miami-Dade County Boys’ Basketball
Late Wednesday: Westminster Christian 85, Everglades Prep 42: EP: J. Diaz 6, Z. Simeon 12 , S. Kimontae 3 , J. Williams 5, A. Ballard. WCS: Jake Wright 4, B. Wright 17, M. Montalvo 10, AJ Schaefer 7, Daniel Verdeja 7, Toby Brigham 8, Jose Lopez 11, Andres Torres 6, Chris Hernandez 6, Lucas McCormick 3, Kalani Norris 6. Half: WC 53-20. 3-Pointers: Z. Simeon 3, S. Kimontae 1, J. Williams 1, Brendan Wright 3, Marcus Montalvo 1, AJ Schaefer 1, Toby Brigham 1, Jose Lopez 1. Reb: J Daniel Verdeja 6. Ast: Jake Wright 5. WC 1-1.
Class 4A state semifinal: Booker T. Washington at Cocoa, 7:30
Class 3A state semifinal: Chaminade-Madonna at Melbourne Central Catholic, 7:30
Class 2A state semifinal: Champagnat Catholic vs. St. Petersburg-Northside Christian (Curtis), 7:30
Region 4-8A final: Coral Gables at Southridge, 3
Region 3-8A final: Delray Beach-Atlantic at Deerfield Beach, 7:30
Region 4-7A final: St. Thomas Aquinas vs. Mater Academy (Milander), 7:30
Region 4-6A final: Coral City at Daytona Beach Mainland, 7:30
Region 4-5A final: American Heritage at Orlando Bishop Moore, 7:30
Suncoast Thanksgiving Classic at Riviera Beach
John I. Leonard Thanksgiving Classic in Greenacres
Lady Raider Thanksgiving Classic at Gulliver