- Faith & Family
The Booker T. Washington Tornados were unable to claim the gold last Saturday night, leaving the Citrus Bowl in Orlando and heading back to Miami after a disappointing loss to The Bolles School (Jacksonville) for the Class 4A state title. The Tornados had the momentum to win it all, boasting the same 12-1 record as Bolles and suffering only one previous loss to Class 6A reigning state champs the Central Rockets. On the road to the finals they decisively beat the former reigning three-time state championship team Cocoa High School in the state semi-finals. Bolles has captured eight state titles since 1990, under head coach Charles “Corky” Rogers, a 40-year varsity head coach.
Despite being ahead the majority of the game, the Tornados were eventually bogged down by miscues, bad play calls and ill-timed penalties to end the game as the state-runner ups.
“We failed to capitalize on opportunities,” said Booker T. Head Coach Tim “Ice” Harris. “We had a good plan going in but we didn’t successfully execute it.”
The incipient stages of the game were marked by the Tornado offense’s failure to score after a huge 15-yard holding penalty, giving Bolles possession after only a minute of play. Bolles’ kicker, Brooks Abbo , after the team rushed 42-yards, made a 35-yard field goal to put the Bulldogs ahead 3-0. The Tornados responded after a 23-yard run by senior receiver Lamar Parker, led to a touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Treon Harris to junior running back Dvon Ballard, putting Booker T. ahead 7-3.
The game continued to see-saw from that point on and it was the Booker T. defense that continued to hold the Bulldogs at bay. Booker T. led, 25-12, and shutdown Bolles in the third quarter but then the tide began to change. Bolles started the fourth quarter with a quick touchdown and scored again with 3:52 left in the game. Then at the worst of possible moment, a fumble on a kick return at Booker T.’s six-yard line by sophomore cornerback Nigel Patton was recovered and run in for another Bolles touchdown six; suddenly the Tornados trailed, 25-33. Booker T. would be unable to score again.
“It’s bittersweet to have a great season and you don’t win it all,” Harris said finishing his sixth year as head coach. “It was an excellent journey and hopefully it makes us better.”
Harris says he is proud of the impact that the team’s success has had on the Overtown community.
“We’ve been making some good stories this season,” Harris said. “It’s wonderful how the kids came through; bringing something positive from a community that is often referred to in negative terms. Hopefully this loss will help us dig deeper. In life we can learn from disappointments — helping prepare these boys to deal with adversity in life is one of our goals.”
By Akilah Laster