SUMMER REPORT: Miami Booker T. Washington

A year ago, the Tornadoes came within a point of pulling a major upset and heading off to the 4A state title game. This year, Booker T. Washington has to be considered one of the favorites to stay home in December and compete for a first ever state championship.

MIAMI – When Booker T. Washington High opened its doors after over 34 years of being closed because of a lack of student population in the Overtown area of Miami, many asked how this football program would be able to survive against its powerful inner city competition.

If you've followed high school football in the Magic City, you will understand that programs such as Miami Beach, Miami Jackson, Miami Edison and Miami Senior had made a career using its quality Overtown athletes. With Booker T. Washington opening its doors once again after decades of feeding some of the local athletic programs as a junior high school, things would start to change slowly.

Joe Jackson
By the end of the third year, this football program began to turn the corner and feature quality football players with veteran Jerry Hughes starting the program and then handing it over to someone who knew the area as well as anyone, Tim "Ice" Harris, who has taken the Tornadoes to another level.

When this football team squeaked out a win last year in the third round of the 4A state playoffs against Merritt Island, many felt that the program, considered one of Miami-Dade's best, was overrated, but the following week would change all that.

Malcolm Jackson
While Merritt Island finished as one of the top teams in the state, and Harris agreed they were impressive, the following week against defending 4A state champion Armwood in the city of Seffner (near Tampa), saw this team gain statewide respect after taking the Hawks down to the wire and losing by just one point. Armwood went on to beat Lakeland Lake Gibson for the second straight year, and the Tornadoes went back to Miami believing that they could play with anyone in the state – much the way Merritt Island did the week before.

"Tough loss to take," says Alwan Lee, a rising senior quarterback who accounted for over 400 total yards in the loss to Armwood. "That loss really made us work harder, and now we are back, thinking nothing less than a state title – at home here in Miami."

After a convincing spring jamboree win against 6A powerhouse Miami Central, Booker T. Washington will hide nothing as they get back what many call its "Unfinished Business Tour", which will wind its way through some of the best competition in Miami-Dade County.

Kevard Stewart
Every player coming back who experienced the loss to Armwood took that setback hard, and they are reminded about it often, and they want to do something about it!

"I can't tell you what it felt like to lose the way we did," said senior defensive tackle Malcolm Jackson. "While we will take each game one at a time, we still know that Miami is our destination in December to get back what we should have had last year."

Alwan Lee
This football team is loaded. If Lakeland is the best team in the state, and Jacksonville Bolles is right there with them, Booker T. Washington has to be considered a top three team in the Sunshine State.
Lee (No. 3) returns to lead the offense again, and most who have watched him, feel that running or passing, he is a major weapon.

Senior receivers Rudell Lewin and Lester Hundley, and sophomore receiver Davon Johnson will also add to the potent arsenal.

John Robles
Senior Victor Barragan will back Lee up once again. Lineman Kevard Stewart (No. 58) is also impressive.

Also expected to help on offense will be running back Anthony White (No. 13), who will be a key player for this team. Receiver Terrelt Solomon (No. 5) is another major weapon that the program will look to.

As impressive as the offense is, and you can expect this team to score plenty of points, the defense could be one of the best in the state. It's a unit that brings back eight starters who came together down the stretch.

Terrelt Solomon
"This is a quality defensive unit," said Harris. "Great athletes who work extremely hard and remember the way it felt when they lost and were sent home one game short two years in a row by the same team."

Up front, the Tornadoes feature John Robles (No. 91) and Malcolm Jackson (No. 99), who continue to make play after play.

Anthony White
Linebacker Joe Jackson (No. 44) is a tremendous football player, and the secondary is in great hands with Chavez Grant (No. 19), who continues to attract attention for his play as a cornerback.

For the past few years, things have been building to a point where Booker T. Washington would be a force in Miami-Dade County. Now that they are considered the best in their area, they will now go after the bigger prize – and that will take place less than 10 miles from their campus!

Kellen Gaulden

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Immokalee, Blountstown, Miami Central, Naples Lely, Fort Myers, Tallahassee Godby, Lauderdale Lakes Boyd Anderson, Pompano, Boca Raton, Greenacres John I. Leonard, Ocala Trinity Catholic, Miami Booker T. Washington and North Fort Myers knows what it's like to have their program exposed for all to see!

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