Memories of past Miami Northwestern football greatness are stirred up every Sunday on an NFL sideline.
From Teddy Bridgewater conducting the Minnesota Vikings offense to Amari Cooper making spectacular catches for the Oakland Raiders to Levonte David making big plays on defense for Tampa Bay, “Bull Pride” is still felt in the school’s tradition-rich Liberty City neighborhood.
Northwestern is hoping a return to greatness is on the horizon.
The Bulls gave another glimpse of their potential Saturday night at Traz Powell Stadium with a 47-0 rout of American in their 2016 regular-season opener.
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The game ended with a continuous clock after Northwestern (1-0) took a 40-point lead to halftime.
The victory followed an impressive preseason effort last week when the Bulls routed Palm Beach County powerhouse Dwyer 34-17.
“This team has really started believing in each other,” second-year Northwestern coach Max Edwards said. “The effort was good, but we have to improve a lot to get better.”
The Bulls have made the playoffs every other season since 2010, the final season of a 19-year streak of reaching the postseason without fail.
Northwestern thinks this is the season it can not only return to the playoffs, but begin to develop the winning consistency it had when it won four state championships from 1995 to 2007.
Northwestern is one of four teams in District 16-6A, along with five-time state champion Miami Central, three-time state champion Miami Carol City and two-time state champion Miami Norland.
The district is still widely considered one of the toughest statewide, but the Bulls think their mix of experienced juniors and talented seniors can help them break through.
“We’re a confident and our coach Max has us in a very good situation,” junior linebacker Billy Joseph said. “He’s shown us how to play with a lot of passion.”
Joseph recovered one of two fumbles by American (0-1), which had three punts blocked including two by senior linebacker Demetrius Taylor. The first was recovered by junior linebacker Derrick Nicholson in the first quarter to put Northwestern ahead 13-0 shortly after Chatarius “Tutu” Atwell threw the first of his two touchdown passes in the game.
Kai Henry caught that score from 19 yards out and led the Bulls’ offense with 66 yards and another touchdown. Atwell, a junior and Northwestern’s third-year starting quarterback, also ran for a touchdown as did junior Aaron Louis.
Atwell’s second touchdown went for 20 yards to junior Roy Livingston, and junior defensive end Walter Flowers recovered a fumble for a touchdown to cap the scoring in the fourth quarter.
Northwestern committed 12 penalties for 90 yards, something Edwards recognized as having to decrease if the Bulls are to have success against their upcoming schedule.
Over the next month, the Bulls will face Columbus, Plantation American Heritage, American Heritage-Delray, South Dade and Miami Booker T. Washington before entering district play.
“We don’t have one easy week, so hopefully that will motivate us to get better each and every week,” Edwards said. “With every game, it’s going to get bigger and bigger for us.”