To appreciate what Booker T. Washington has been able to do this season will certainly pay off tonight when the Tornadoes square off with traditional power, Jacksonville Bolles, in the 4A state title game.
This football program is in Orlando for the third straight year against the Bulldogs, and much like last season, come in as much as a three touchdown favorite to win another state crown. But this game represents a whole, new world for this quality team. A win and they are national champions.
How does a small school, located in remote Overtown continue to churn out major college talent every year? That has been a question they’ve been asking for decades as the youth football program furnishes enough talent to stock many rosters, and they have since the 1960s.
When BTW closed, many of its quality athletes from Overtown began to gravitate to schools such as Miami High, Jackson and Miami Beach, which used the big time talent to remain relevant for much of the 70s, 80s and early 90s.
What Overtown – and its surrounding border areas may have - is the best athletes in the state of Florida. Routinely, this is a program that has seven or eight difference makers that will make national headlines over the next three years.
While BTW athletes have always been gifted, they have not always been disciplined – and that’s where head coach Tim “Ice” Harris and one of the best coaching staffs in the state have changed everything.
This has been a program, along with Miami Central, that has been able to produce talented, elite athletes. What the Tornadoes have also been able to accomplish is not only be a prospect-rich program, but a disciplined one as well.
Last year, BTW was the only school that showed up in Orlando with shirts and ties. They plan to do the same thing this year.
“When we go anywhere, we are representing our school and community,” Harris said. “That is what our young men learn from the first time they put on this uniform.”
Look up and down the roster and you will find stars of the future such as University of Miami bound defensive linemen Chad Thomas and Demetrius Jackson, and defensive back Nigel Bethel.
The senior class also features such impressive players as West Virginia commit (receiver) Lamar Parker, FIU offensive line commitment Jordan Ingraham and quarterback Treon Harris among dozens of others.
The son of Coach Harris, and brother (Tim Jr.) who is the offensive coordinator, the younger Harris has been brilliant since taking over as a sophomore and posting a 39-3 record, heading into tonight’s game. On his way to FSU, Harris missed a few games with an injury, but games against Norcross, Ga., Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) and Miami Central, he has been worth the price of admission.
THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT AS WELL
While many are waiting for the “silver slipper” to fall off after the game, those who know, realize that the Tornadoes are not going anywhere. They are loaded in the junior class with prospects such as linebacker James King, offensive linemen Deiontae Lynch and Ceasar Jimenez, and defensive back Ladarius Crump.
With the youth football pipeline going strong, along with potent junior varsity players and athletes such as receivers Vaquan Smalls and Shaquille Green, defensive lineman Josh Johnson and linebacker Terry Jefferson, things look very promising.
Add in a sophomore class that boasts nationally-rated running back Mark Walton, receiver Darius Scott, kicker Jose Borregales, and linbackers Akeem Jackson and Hosea McMullin, and you have a bright future.
While this state has many quality players and teams, there are very few who have been able to do what BTW has accomplished – so far!
We are always looking to help promote our area recruits for the current Class of 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. All you have to do is send a You Tube or Hudl link and information about the athlete to: Larry Blustein at Floridakids1@aol.com.
Follow Larry on Twitter at twitter.com/larryblustein.