High School Sports

Booker T. Washington emerging, Columbus slipping under new coaches

As each week passes in the high school football season, it’s all about getting answers to questions along the way.

A few more were answered last weekend when Booker T. Washington traveled to Columbus and put a 34-11 shellacking on the Explorers.

Coaching changes can be tricky sometimes. Some can be positive. Some negative and some seamless.

In the case of BTW, it would be seamless. Despite the last-second departure of Tim “Ice” Harris in August, the Tornadoes, under associate head coach Ben Hanks, haven’t missed a step.

Quarterback Torey Morrison is emerging as one of the best in South Florida and, in loaded Region 4-4A, with the likes of Carol City, Cardinal Gibbons, Davie University School and Gulliver Prep, BTW could be emerging as the favorite to come out of that pack and make it to Daytona.

Columbus went through the transition as well, from longtime coach Chris Merritt to David Dunn, and it would appear that is still a work in progress.

The season is not half over, so there is still time for the Explorers, who have plummeted from a No. 4 ranking in the Herald’s Top 20 South Florida poll two weeks ago to No. 15, to pull it together. But it’s looking less and less likely they will be able to get back to the 8A state title game where they came up two points short a year ago.

On a personal note, after a quarter of a century covering high school football on the sidelines, “my turn” finally came Friday night.

“My turn” refers to what every media type risks when they roam the sidelines — getting wiped out. Along came a sweep to the sidelines during the big University/Western showdown and when I tried to get out of the way and could not (thanks to a bunch of Western players who didn’t budge), down I went like a sack of potatoes.

Luckily no bones were broken, but my souvenir was a wounded knee, a knee brace and a limp this week. Now I can appreciate when a coach tells a player “sometimes you’ve got to play hurt.”

So onward I trudge with a new slate of games this week.

THIS WEEK’S TOP 20

1. St. Thomas Aquinas; 2. Central; 3. Northwestern; 4. South Dade; 5. Carol City; 6. Plantation American Heritage; 7. Chaminade-Madonna; 8. Palmetto; 9. Dillard; 10. University School 11. Booker T. Washington; 12. Western; 13. Deerfield Beach; 14. Cardinal Gibbons; 15. Columbus 16. Plantation; 17. Gulliver Prep; 18. Champagnat; 19. McArthur; 20. Edison.

KNOCKING ON THE DOOR: Douglas, Stranahan, Miramar, Hialeah, Coconut Creek, Monarch.

THIS WEEK’S TOP GAMES

No. 20 Edison (3-1) vs. No. 2 Central (3-1), Thursday, 7, Traz Powell: Under the tutelage of first time head coach Luther Campbell, Edison has emerged to football relevancy again. The Red Raiders are coming off nice back-to-back road wins over Coconut Creek and Hallandale but this is a big-time step up for them this week. Central got off to a slightly sluggish start to the season but the Rockets are starting to roll and should keep it going here. Edison might hang tough for awhile but the guys in green have too much talent. BD’s Pick: Central 33-16.

Miramar (2-2) at No. 1 St. Thomas Aquinas (2-0), Friday, 7: The Raiders finally got back out on the field last week with an expected rout of South Plantation and should keep it going here. Even though Miramar has a history of never having backed down to St. Thomas through the years and really battled the Raiders, this isn’t the same kind of Patriots team. I expect the nation’s No. 1 team (USA Today) to keep rolling and not get caught looking ahead to a big one with Carol City next week. BD’s Pick: Aquinas 38-13.

No. 18 Champagnat (3-1) at No. 10 University School (3-1), Friday, 7: A year ago these teams met on the same field, and it wasn’t close. U School destroyed Champagnat, but the Lions were still a struggling team in transition under new coach Hector Clavijo at the time. That’s not the case now as the Lions are rolling and expected to make it back to the 2A title game. But that doesn’t mean they can win this one. The Sharks picked up a great road win over Western last week with their QB back in the lineup, and I think they will keep it going here. No rout this time though as this one could come down to the last possession. BD’s Pick: University 26-21.

No. 14 Cardinal Gibbons (3-1) at Delray Beach American Heritage (2-1) Friday, 7: Hit hard by graduating seniors off last year’s state title team, Gibbons got out of the gate slow this season, but the Chiefs have started to pick it up. This will be a crucial road test against a quality team and just might start to tell us how big of a contender Gibbons will be in the postseason. BD’s Pick: Gibbons 27-23.

REST OF THE TOP 20

3. Northwestern (3-1) at Lowndes (Ga.) (4-0), Friday, 8: Bulls travel to Valdosta, Georgia to take on No. 35 team nationally (Max Preps) and a team that clobbered Champagnat (44-14) a few weeks ago. A real challenge for Max Edwards and his boys but I say NW gets it done. BD’s Pick: Northwestern 30-24.

4. South Dade (4-0): Idle.

5. Carol City (2-2) at Jacksonville Trinity Christian (1-3), Friday, 7:30: Don’t be fooled by TC’s record. The Conquerers are coming off a brutal three -game stretch with three close losses including last week to American Heritage. This is a tough spot for the Chiefs. A five-hour drive north with St. Thomas on deck next week, but I say they get it done. BD’s Pick: Carol City 21-20.

6. Plantation American Heritage (3-1): Idle.

7. Chaminade-Madonna (3-1) at Delray Beach Atlantic (2-0): Almost not fair Chaminade has such a tough road game after last week’s heartbreaking one point loss to Carol City. Atlantic is really good but I say the Lions get it done. BD’s Pick: Chaminade 19-17.

8. Palmetto (3-1) at Southridge (1-2), Friday, 7:30: A month ago, this looked like a challenging game for Palmetto. Not anymore as Southridge situation is a mess. BD’s Pick: Palmetto 33-9.

9. Dillard (4-0) vs. Stranahan (3-0), Friday, 7: A battle of undefeateds, but Stranahan record is shaky having played three light opponents. Panthers should roll. BD’s Pick: Dillard 30-13.

11. Booker T. Washington (3-1) vs. North Miami (1-2), Friday, 7:30, Curtis Park: Big win for Tornadoes last week, and they keep the momentum going. BD’s Pick: BTW 38-12.

12. Western (2-1) at Cooper City (2-2), Friday, 7: Western will take out last week’s tough loss to U School on the Cowboys. BD’s Pick: Western 37-8.

13. Deerfield Beach (2-2) vs. Orlando Oak Ridge (0-3), Friday, 7: A breather for the Bucks this week. BD’s Pick: Deerfield Beach 42-6.

15. Columbus (2-2): Idle.

16. Plantation (3-0) at Everglades (1-2), Friday, 7: Another easy one for the Colonels this week. BD’s Pick: Plantation 35-8.

17. Gulliver Prep. (4-0) at West Palm Beach King’s Academy (3-1), Friday, 7: After an easy one last week, Raiders will have to work much harder for this one. BD’s Pick: Gulliver 27-20.

19. McArthur (1-1) vs. South Broward (1-3), Friday, 7: After a week off, Mustangs look to keep momentum going from big win over University. BD’s Pick: McArthur 34-12.

OTHER GAMES THURSDAY: Miami-Dade: South Miami vs. Homestead (Harris), 7: SM 16-14; Mourning vs. Miami Springs (Milander), 7: Springs 20-6; Broward: Pompano Beach at Northeast, 7: NE 15-14.

FRIDAY: Miami-Dade: Westland Hialeah at Coral Park, 3:30: CP 34-6; Miami Beach at Braddock, 3:30: Braddock 28-7; North Miami Beach at Coral Gables, 4: Gables 27-20; Florida Christian at Palmer Trinity, 4: PT 20-16; St. Brendan at Coral Shores, 7: StB 30-13; Southwest at Belen Jesuit, 7:30: Belen 28-20; Norland at St. Frances (Md.), 7: St. Frances 48-9; Reagan at Naples Gulf Coast, 7: GC 27-12; Sunset vs. Coral Reef, (Harris), 7:30: Reef 14-13; American at Monsignor Pace, 7:30: Pace 24-20; Killian at Doral Academy, 7:30: Doral 21-20; Hialeah at Lakeland, 7:30: Lakeland 33-14; Broward: South Plantation at Hollywood Hills, 4: SP 20-14; Pine Crest at Calvary Christian, 7: CC 34-21; Coral Glades vs. Taravella (Coral Springs), 7: Taravella 23-14; Coral Springs at Douglas, 7: Douglas 27-14; Monarch at Coconut Creek, 7: Creek 20-19; Melbourne Central Catholic at Archbishop McCarthy, 7: MCC 30-12; West Broward vs. Fort Lauderdale (Northeast), 7: FTL 40-9; Boca Raton Christian at Westminster Academy, 7: WA 26-21; Flanagan at Piper, 7: Flanagan 29-16; Blanche Ely at Boyd Anderson, 7: BA 20-17; Coral Springs Charter at Pembroke Pines Charter, 7: CSC 30-12; Nova at Punta Gorda Charlotte, 7: Charlotte 35-13.

LAST WEEK OVERALL: 38-9.

LAST WEEK TOP 20: 14-2.

SEASON OVERALL: 139-36.

TOP 20 OVERALL: 52-9.

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