It’s been an awfully long time since the Booker T. Washington football program and “backs to the wall” were used in the same sentence.
But such was the case Saturday night when the Tornadoes played host to Coral Gables at Traz Powell Stadium.
With the new points format deciding who makes the playoffs and there being no actual districts in Class 4A on down (meaning only four teams from each region make the postseason), Booker T., at 2-3 was actually in a spot where a loss to the Cavaliers and two more tough games on the horizon against Chaminade next week and Carol City the week after, could’ve left them in danger of missing the playoffs.
With all of that, the Tornadoes, led by junior quarterback Daniel Richardson came out firing on all cylinders as they easily dispatched Gables 34-21 to move to 3-3.
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The Cavaliers, who struggled early on in the game, falling behind 27-0 late in the first half and perhaps still winded from a short week and five-overtime four hour marathon loss to Miami High five days earlier, now find themselves 2-4 and likely in a must-win situation against Columbus in a few weeks or possibly get shutout of the postseason themselves.
“We knew that coming in tonight and the importance of this game,” said BTW head coach Tim “Ice” Harris. “We had some tough close games get away from us earlier that we should’ve been able to pull off but didn’t come up with the big plays to do it so we’re the ones who have put ourselves in this position and now it’s up to us find a way to dig ourselves out of it. With this new point system now, every game is big and you have to find a way to come away with wins.”
Harris watched his team clearly come out with a sense of urgency rolling out to a 27-0 second quarter lead on Richardson touchdown passes of 3 yards Jacorey Brooks, 55 yards to Tyquan Thornton and 63 yards to Zahir Turner. When Moishe Ferguson blocked and returned a Gables punt 30 yards for a score, BTW was probably thinking it might get a running clock game.
But Gables stunned the Tornadoes when University of Miami-bound Gilbert Frierson returned the ensuing kickoff 82 yards for a score and quarterback Gerald Williams found Rayquan Berry wide open for a 50 yard score just 27 seconds before halftime to make it 27-14 at the break.
But Richardson came out and coolly led his offense downfield on the opening second half drive, 80 yards in 11 plays, capping it off with a 10-yard toss to Thornton to put his team back up by 20 and the Tornadoes were never threatened from there.
Gables scored on a 77-yard Williams-to-Frierson touchdown pass with just 15 seconds left in the game to make it look a little closer.
Richardson enjoyed a huge night, completing 21-of-28 passes for 256 yards and those four touchdowns and that was only three quarters of work. On the final play of the third quarter, he got dinged on a late hit out of bounds and Harris, to be precautionary, gave him the rest of the night off.
“Tonight was important because we needed to make a statement and work towards getting our respect back,” said Richardson who has offers from Toledo, FIU and FAU along with interest from Colorado, Purdue, Kentucky and Duke. “We feel like we lost three games we shouldn’t have but now have put ourselves in a position where we have to fight our way through adversity and it started out there tonight.”
Booker T. had won four consecutive 4A state titles before losing to Cocoa in last year’s state semifinal but has hardly looked like a team ready to start a new streak this season.
“We’ve pretty much been riding on our past this season and not focusing on now and the future and that’s what these kids need to learn,” said Harris. “Guys behind them have set this program up at an elite level that everyone else is coming at us to play us at that level and if we don’t match it and move forward, we’ll be in more close games and maybe not be able to do what we did tonight and take care of business the way we did.”
▪ Hialeah Gardens 48, Varela 22: After the Gladiators opened a 16-0 lead, Varela answered with 22 points in the second. Gardens (2-4) finished the game scoring 32 unanswered points. Senior Christian Delcorro ran the ball 21 times for 126 yards and a touchdown. Delcorro totaled 12 tackles. Junior quarterback Darian Hernandez had 122 yards on 12 carries and threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to Sebastian Cuellar. Etilo Badia returned a kickoff 73 yards for a touchdown and Christian Gomez ran for two touchdowns.
▪ West Broward 35, McArthur 0: Eric Hoff Jr. ran 15 times for 79 yards and a touchdown. He also had an interception and five tackles. Devin Broughton ran for 149 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries. Dominic Tianga ran for 85 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. Malcolm Denbow with two interceptions including one he returned 40 yards for a touchdown.
Gulliver volleyball defeated Ferguson 25-8, 25-18 to win the Florida Christian Invitational on Saturday.
The Raiders beat Palmetto and LaSalle on Friday and then Lourdes Academy Saturday afternoon to advance to the final.
In the final, Gulliver won the first set led by Isa Lamus and Lauren Potter on the attack. Carly Wood had 19 assists, while Lamus had 5 blocks and 10 kills, with Potter contributing 12 kills.
Lamus made the All-Tournament team, while Potter was named MVP.
Riviera Prep took third place in the tournament led by setter and outside hitter Aryanah Diaz, who also made the All-Tournament team.
▪ Florida Christian Invitational - Riviera Prep d. Florida Christian 28-26, 25-19, 25-18: Aryanah Diaz 16 kills, 13 assists, 18 digs and 5 aces; Izabella Santiago 37 digs and 5 aces; Ella Snayd 19 assists and 3 aces.
▪ Florida Christian Invitational - Riviera Prep d. Higland Christian 25-20, 25-15: Aryanah Diaz 11 assists, 3 kills 2 aces; Nicolleta Maietto 6 kills, 4 digs.
▪ Florida Christian Invitational - Riviera Prep d. Lourdes 25-23, 25-20: Aryanah Diaz 6 kills, 8 assists and 5 aces; Ella Snayd 7 assists; Jenna Webber 10 digs; RP 13-5.
▪ Florida Christian Invitational - Florida Christian d. Miami Country Day 26-24, 25-20: Nicole Caballero 10 points, 3 aces, 5 kills and 3 digs; Gianna Ortiz 14 assist, 2 kills and 2 digs; Karina Tohme 7 points, 4 kills, 3 digs and 2 aces
▪ Florida Christian Invitational - Florida Christian d. Palmetto 19-25, 25-12, 15-11: Gianna Ortiz 10 points, 9 assists; Madison Estape 11 points, 3 aces and 2 digs; Nicole Caballero 6 points, 3 aces, 4 kills and 4 digs; FC 12-6.