by Wayne Poller, Football Hotbed Contributor
Plantation, FL- The combatants in the latest battle between Miami-Dade and Broward County featured the Plantation American Heritage Patriots and the Miami Booker T. Washington Tornadoes, ranked #6 and #8 in the nation, respectively. The defending state champions met on Friday night to begin their quests for the mythical high school football national championship. Unfortunately for Coach Patrick Surtain, his team’s journey may have ended before it even began. The brash Tornadoes, led by Tim “Ice” Harris trounced the Patriots 27-7 in their own backyard, giving credence to the narrative that the best in Dade is usually better than the best of the rest.
The Tornadoes took a 7-0 lead into halftime thanks to a 25 yard interception return for a touchdown by Rishard Dames. The first half was characterized by sloppy play from both teams, which should be expected in a season opener of this magnitude. However, the undisciplined play exhibited by the Patriots was unexpected as they were called for numerous personal foul infractions in the third and fourth quarters. Led by sophomore quarterback Daniel Richardson (10-23, 230yds & 2TDs), Booker T. Washington used big plays to distance themselves from their opponent in the second half. After receiving the kickoff after halftime, Richardson completed two passes each covering 20+ yards to set up a 5 yard touchdown run by Craig Nelson. He also ended the scoring for the Tornadoes in the fourth quarter with a 34 yard strike off his back foot to Deandre Williams. The tale of two halves was opposite for senior quarterback Jason Brown of American Heritage. He found success completing crossing routes designed to exploit the Tornadoes tight man to man coverage in the first half, and used his legs judiciously to move the chains. But later in the game, he consistently missed wide open receivers on deep routes and also lost a fumble which led to a Tornado touchdown.
The victory sets up a showdown next week between Booker T. Washington and St. Thomas Aquinas at Traz Powell Stadium in Miami. When asked about the arduous schedule that his team is facing, Coach Harris stated that beating the best is the only way you can get to the top of the polls. If his team beats St. Thomas and Miami Central on their way to a sixth straight state championship, they will have staked their claim to as the best team in the nation.