Miami Booker T. Washington is bringing home another state football championship trophy.
But this one put the Tornadoes in an exclusive place in the history of South Florida high school football.
Led by the sheer skill and determination of running back Mark Walton, who scored five touchdowns overall, and a defense that forced five turnovers, Booker T. defeated Jacksonville Bolles 54-35 in the Class 4A final Saturday night at the Citrus Bowl to secure its third consecutive state championship.
The Tornadoes (14-0), ranked No. 4 nationally by USA Today and MaxPreps, became the first South Florida team (Miami-Dade or Broward County) to win three in a row. Miami Central can join the Tornadoes next week if it wins its third consecutive title.
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But for at least a week, Booker T. has the record all to itself.
“I’m so proud of this team,” first-year Booker T. coach Tim Harris Jr. said. “These guys never let anything get in the way of our hard work and preparation. For us to be a part of the first three-peat is unbelievable.”
What the Tornadoes can also brag about over Central and most other programs in Florida for the time being is its consistency over nearly three seasons.
Booker T.’s victory was its 40th in a row, already a Dade record, and made the Tornadoes only the sixth school in the state to ever win that many in a row.
The Tornadoes beat Bolles (11-3), which owns a state-record 11 state championships, for the third consecutive season.
As his players doused him and his assistant coaches with ice, Harris Jr. took a look into the stands and signaled to his family. Harris’ mother, Chonita, father, Tim Sr. — the school’s former coach — and brother, Treon — the school’s former starting quarterback — were all in the crowd along with several former players who have been a part of the Booker T. dynasty.
Harris Sr., who led Booker T. to its first three state titles, including its first in 2007 and a national title last season, departed to coach at the University of Miami before the season.
“I’m so proud of him,” Harris Sr. said. “He was a little worried at the beginning thinking he wasn’t prepared for it. He always did great job as the offensive coordinator. I knew it was the right time for him to take over this program.”
Booker T. also is likely to be invited to compete in the inaugural national championship series showcase event Dec.27 in Boca Raton that will include six teams from around the country in three bowl games.
“I’m so happy for my team right now,” senior quarterback Maurice Alexander said. “We went through so much this season but we still managed to stick together.”
Alexander completed 15 of 20 passes for 331 yards and threw four touchdown passes — two of which went to senior Vaquan Small, who caught five passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns.
Booker T. pulled away behind Walton’s stellar play.
Walton, a University of Miami commitment who took courses to graduate after this year, finished his career in style running for 184 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries and caught three passes for 89 yards. Two of those catches went for touchdowns.
“It’s unbelievable,” Walton said.
“I’m speechless to be a part of a three-peat.”
BOOKER T. 54,
BTW- Walton 1 run (Borregales kick)
BOL- Bermudez 5 run (Lucansky kick)
BTW- Smalls 72 pass from Alexander (run failed)
BTW- Smalls 23 pass from Alexander (pass failed)
BOL- Edden 1 run (Lucansky kick)
BTW-Walton 11 run (Borregales kick)
BOL- Ackerman 11 pass from Edden (Lucansky kick)
BTW- Walton 30 pass from Alexander (Borregales kick)
BOL- Carter 50 pass from Edden (Lucansky kick)
BTW- Walton 75 run (Borregales kick)
BTW- Walton 45 pass from Alexander (Borregales kick)
BTW- Hudson 37 int. return (Borregales kick)
BOL- Moorer 8 pass from Edden (Lucansky kick)
Rushing (att-yds) -- BTW: Johnson 1-3, Scott 1-3, Alexander 12-46, Walton 19-184. BOL: Moorer 1-7, Mitchell 2-16, Carter, Jr. 8-35, Bermudez 22-99.
Passing (comp-att-int, yds)-- BTW: Alexander 15-20-0, 331. BOL: Jones 0-1-0, 0, Edden 19-30-3, 250.
Receiving (rec-yds-TD) -- BTW: Taylor 2-13, Williams 3-19, Walton 3-89, Smalls 5-154. BOL: Ackerman 3-25, Porter 3-29, Moorer 7-56, Carter, Jr. 3-93.