- Faith & Family
The Booker T. Washington Tornados solidified their spot in the 4A state championship on Friday at Curtis Park, defeating 3-time state champion Cocoa High School and advancing to the semi-finals. This marks the first time the Booker T. program has advanced to the final game since they won it all in 2007. Their head coach, Tim “Ice” Harris, left after that banner season, but returned this year — bringing winning ways with him.
“You have the greatest development when people work together with the same goal and dream,” Harris said. “Then you are able to compete at any level.”
The Tornado players bolted onto the field after back-to-back sacks on Cocoa junior quarterback Jaelon Knowles anchored the “overtime win. With tears in their eyes, they celebrated and embraced each other as if it were the actual final game.
“That’s what we wanted this to feel like,” Harris said. “Like one last game, we wanted to play like it was a state championship.”
The Tornados were backed by the running game of sophomore quarterback Treon Harris who scored the team’s first touchdown on a 19-yard run-and sophomore running back Darius Hanks, who scored the second and last regulation touchdown on a 17-yard scamper.
Booker T. remained scoreless in the second half and the defense allowed for Cocoa’s running backs to push back up the field to tie the game at the end of the third quarter, knotted at 14 after junior running back Tarean Folston scored his second touchdown of the night.
Booker T. had several opportunities to score in the fourth to clinch the win in regulation, but after a series of failed attempts to get into the end-zone with the ball on the 1-yard line, Cocoa regained possession. Booker T. also had a chance to regain offensive possession, holding Cocoa on 4th and 3, but an encroachment penalty earned the Tigers a first down.
Overtime was all the Tornados. They pushed up the field quickly and then an overthrown pass from quarterback Harris was caught just outside the in-zone by junior linebacker Matthew Thomas.
Desperate to score, Booker T. set up to kick a field goal, even though they were 0-1 on the night, but ran a fake to senior receiver Larry Mathis who scored the winning touchdown.
“It’s like Pete Fontaine said, ‘if it comes to a gut check … you have to go for it,” Harris said. “I put the game in their hands. Larry Mathis did a great job.”
Booker T. heads to the Citrus Bowl Saturday to play the Jacksonville Bolles (15-1) for the 4A state championship.
Other playoff football scores:
Norland defeated Glades Central Community 29-13. Norland moved on to the state-semifinals to take on Palmetto High School.
Central defeated Palm Bay 17-7. Central advanced to the state-semifinals to face Daytona Beach Mainland.
Southridge lost to Columbus 28-7.