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September 6, 2013
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PLAYERS TO WATCH:
What: Miami Washington (1-0) vs. Miami Central(1-0)
Last Meeting: Won by Central 36-27, September 8, 2012.
Where to watch: You can watch the game online by clicking here! (broadcast starts at 7 PM)
By the Numbers 1 - The ranking of these two teams in various national polls.
2 - The number of consecutive state title games Booker T. Washington has played in.
3 - the number of consecutive championship games Miami Central has played in
4 - the number of state titles won by both teams (2 each)
15 - the number of verbal commitments to FBS and FCS schools that will be on the field
THE OUTLOOK -- Since the Tornados lost a 19-3 lead over Central a year ago, Booker T has outscored it's opponents 734-111 (courtesy of Larry Bluestein). That's a pretty alarming fact considering the Tornados didn't exactly play the weak sisters of the poor.
Included in that run were schools with national reputations or state playoff teams (Cedar Hill, Texas - 38-21; Miami Jackson - 39-0, Cocoa 40-13, Jacksonville Bolles 35-7, Norcross (Ga.) 55-0). In fact, no team in Florida scored more than two touchdowns on the Tornados - other than Central.
In fact, of those five opponents aforementioned, All five of them made the state semi-finals (Jackson and Cocoa) , finals(Bolles and Cedar Hill) or won the state championship (Norcross).
Miami Central lost coach Telly Lockette to USF but brought in longtime Miami-area coach Roland Smith. Smith knows how to build and maintain a powerhouse, having done so at Miami Northwestern. Smith took the Bulls to the state title game in 2001 (a loss to Apopka) and won the state title in 2006 (over Lake Brantley) before taking a six year leave from head coaching.
Controlling the emotions will be a key factor for both coaching staffs. Both teams can strike quick and both teams have a penchant for making some costly mistakes in the past.
Like Booker T. - Miami Central went on a scoring tear, but faced a bit stiffer schedule early on with Manatee the week after rallying over BTW (lost 44-34) - but towards the end, Central was firing on all cylinders. A playoff run that included playing Miami Northwestern, Palm Bay, Naples and Gainesville (four high powered offenses) on back-to-back-to-back-to-back helped establish the Rockets as the Rivals100 pre-season number 1.
Keys to the game
Booker T. wins if: - Control the tempo. Give Harris (committed to Florida State) time to pick apart the Central secondary. With Lamar Parker (West Virginia), Krondis Larry and Shaquille Green - the Tornados have a tremendous amount of weapons. If Thomas and Jackson can rattle the Central offense by containing Yearby and Cook - it could be a long night for the Rockets. When and if the Rockets take the lead, how quickly does Booker T. respond. Last year's game snowballed out of control for Booker T - and rather quickly - when the Rockets put Yearby at wildcat. Making quick game adjustments is something Tim "Ice" Harris will have to do. Ironically, Booker T. had a similar experience in December of 2011 against Bolles - leading by two scores before the Bulldogs rallied. The Tornados must keep their composure when the game gets close...
Miami Central wins if: - The Rockets take the lead early and don't get rattled. Plainly put, Yearby (Miami commit) and Cook Florida commit) get loose. Last year the Rockets put Yearby in the wildcat and Booker T. didn't adjust in time. Having to cover both at the same time - not knowing which way the ball was going - gave the Rockets an advantage. Up front, Darling and Smith have to hold off the Tornado pass rush and give QB Keith Reed time to find a receiver. Central has weapons on both sides of the ball and the defense has got to make Harris uncomfortable. The Rockets have got to get Rivals four-star Jr. WR Da'Vante Phillips (committed to Florida the ball. You cannot beat Booker T. playing one-dimensional football.
Dallas Jackson - Rivals.com national writer. - "This is as tough a game to predict as any that I can remember. There is very little that would actually shock me when the final whistle blows. I do not think that BTW is as good as that 55-0 game against Norcross but it has one of the most explosive offenses and talented defenses out there. Central - with Yearby and Cook - will be very hard to contain and I think so long as the secondary is strong that the defense will be up to the task. There is a very good reason these teams started the preseason in the Top 5 in the RivalsHigh100 and now are No. 1 and No. 2 in most every poll. I think Central has the slight edge and I'll take the Rockets in a thriller, 37-35."
Blake Alderman - Insidethegators.com - powered by Rivals - "I'm am going with Central over Booker T. I think the combination of Dalvin Cook and Joseph Yearby will wear down the almighty BTW defense."
Kynon Codrington - Rivals.com recruiting analyst - "Man that's a tough one. Booker T. Washington - they have the better defense. Can Roland (Smith) make the same gametime adjustments as (former Central coach) Telly (Lockette) "
Manny Navarro - Miami Herald - (in response to Codgrington) - "He (Smith) doesn't have to. He's got Yearby and Cook, the two best players on the field. Chad Thomas won't play offense and Treon (Harris) won't play defense. Yearby and Cook will do it all again. Miami Central - the complete package."
Michael Langston - Warchant.com - powered by Rivals - "27-17 Booker T. Washington: As long as Treon Harris is on the field, Booker T. Washington is going to be tough to beat. I don't think they (Central) have faced anyone that can spread the ball around like Treon. Secondly, Booker T has one of the best secondary's that I've seen this year and the one question I have about Central is their quarterback situation. How well can they throw the ball - if they're not able to run with Cook and Yearby. If they switch things up like they did last year, it will help but Booker T. is much more experienced top to bottom than Central. They're very disciplined and very experienced."
Mike Singer - Runningthebulls.com - powered by Rivals - "Miami Central will win on speed and execution. The Rockets have the momentum based on last year and if they get up on Booker T. - watch out."
FlaVarsity Publisher Steve Berrey - "I'm going to have to go with Booker T. They were our number one team last year at the end of the season, were our number one team in the pre-season and have done nothing to dissuade me from that opinion. As far as overall balance, I think Harris trumps all others - he's a three year starter at QB and a coach's son. He knows what it takes to win and he's got a little score to settle with the Rockets. He's never beaten Miami Central and this is his last chance."