Hallandale’s football season has been about taking steps toward becoming a consistent powerhouse in South Florida.
The Chargers won a district championship.
They went undefeated in the regular season.
They returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2010.
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The Chargers took another step Friday night with a dominant 47-20 victory over Miami Northwestern, one of South Florida’s more storied programs, in a Region 4-6A quarterfinal at Hallandale.
“We’ve been going one game at a time and the game plan was to get out tonight and get a big lead,” Hallandale coach Dameon Jones said. “We have to clean up the mistakes before next week and keep getting better.”
The Chargers (11-0) recorded their first playoff win since 2008, and will face an even tougher obstacle next week when they host two-time defending Class 6A state champion Miami Central at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Hallandale has never advanced past the second round of the playoffs.
“On both sides of the ball we played great,” said Hallandale junior receiver Chris Cotto, who caught two touchdown passes. “We needed to make big plays from the beginning, and we did.”
Cotto caught two early touchdown passes from Hallandale quarterback Tyler Huntley, who threw four for the game and finished with 188 yards passing.
Huntley also connected for touchdowns with Joshua Hammond and Neru Nshaka as Hallandale scored the game’s first 28 points.
Hallandale’s running game totaled 183 yards as well, as Taj McGowan led the way with 70 yards and a touchdown.
“When one thing works, the other does, too, and that’s great,” Jones said. “Tyler has grown up and continued to become a leader as the season goes on. He’s in control of this offense.”
Northwestern (5-6), which was making its playoff return after a one-year absence, ended a tumultuous week with the lopsided road defeat.
The Bulls suspended head coach Eddie Brown for the game earlier this week for undisclosed reasons and suffered another setback on their first drive Friday.
Freshman quarterback Tutu Atwell took a hard hit and was forced to leave the game. Atwell was later taken to a nearby hospital for precautionary reasons with a hip injury.
“Even with what happened this week we were optimistic and the kids were positive,” assistant coach Quan Chess said. “We’re proud of the way they fought until the end.”
Backup quarterback Marlin Harris did a good job in relief of Atwell, throwing for 211 yards and two touchdown passes to Marcus Williams. Harris also ran for a touchdown.
But by the time Harris began piling up yards and scores, Hallandale was in control of the game.
The Chargers put any chance of a comeback away when Richie Cooper took a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown to cap the game’s scoring.
“Hallandale hasn’t been a playoff program for the longest time, so our goal is to keep making history,” Cotto said.