The Miami Herald continues to unveil its first official South Florida Top 20 poll of the season.
We continue the countdown with a team vying for its third state title and third consecutive trip to Orlando.
2. Booker T. Washington (13-1 in 2012)
Outlook: All-American Matthew Thomas is among a few talented seniors that graduated, but don’t expect too much of a drop-off in Overtown.
Booker T. is one of the most complete teams in the country, which earned it a No. 1 national ranking recently from USA Today.
Booker T. will have to back up its lofty status immediately when it takes on Norcross High, ranked in the top 5 nationally in several polls, in Georgia Saturday night in a nationally-televised ESPN game.
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 October 4.
Drop in games against Miami Jackson, Miami Norland, Miami Carol City and Miami Northwestern and Booker T. should be in line for its first national title should it survive the gauntlet.
Senior quarterback Treon Harris leads an offense that returns several of its playmakers and averaged a staggering 50 points per game last season. Harris has a plethora of wide receivers led by Lamar Parker and Deltron Hopkins. Krondis Larry returns in the backfield along with promising sophomore Mark Walton.
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. Junior Terry Jefferson anchors the linebacker spot and one of the nation’s best secondaries is led by senior Nigel Bethel II.
The Tornadoes are trying to win back-to-back state titles for the first time since the high school re-opened in 1999.
The biggest obstacle figures to be defending Class 3A state champion Davie University School, which moved up to Class 4A.
Should the two meet Nov. 22 in the Region 4-4A final, it could go down as one of the most memorable games in South Florida history.
Key games: Aug. 24, at Norcross (Ga.); Sept. 6, Central (Traz); Sept. 11, Carol City (Traz); Sept. 19, Jackson (Traz); Oct. 4, at Bishop Gorman (Nev.); Oct. 12, Northwestern (Traz); Oct. 17, Gulliver (Curtis); Oct. 24, Norland (Traz).