IT’S BEEN HARD FOR ANYONE OR ANYTHING to stop the runs Booker T. Washington and Miami Central have been on over the last five years. But change may finally be in the air.
The Tornadoes, who own the state’s longest-active
winning streak at 41 games, will open the season
Aug. 28 at defending Class 7A state champion St.
And not only did Booker T. lose a number of key
starters to graduation after winning three consecutive
Class 4A titles, but coach Tim Harris Jr. left to join the
coaching staff at Florida International University.
Central, meanwhile, must replace 18 college-bound
seniors from last year’s team, which won its fourth
state title in five seasons. Defensive coordinator Max
Edwards is also now over at rival Northwestern.
But the Rockets look to be in better shape than
Booker T. in their quest for a four-peat thanks to a
number of key transfers, including receiver Darnell
Salomon (Champagnat) and running back Keino Mike
No Miami-Dade County school has ever won five
FHSAA state championships. But Booker T. and
Central hope to beat Northwestern, Carol City and
Coral Gables (who also have won four crowns) to that
mark by riding the momentum.
Belen’s Rich Stuart and Columbus’ Chris Merritt
coach head-to-head each year in one of the best rivalries in
But this year, while 12 Dade programs welcome new leaders as
head coaches (including seven first-timers), both Stuart and Merritt
will have a chance to do something pretty special on their own.
Stuart, who has racked up 209 career wins since taking
over at Belen in 1983, could pass Palmetto’s Jim Kroll (213
wins) and Carol City’s Walt Frazier (212 wins) for the most
victories ever by a coach in Dade County. Only the legendary
Nick Kotys (258 wins) won more overall, but Kotys picked up
part of those wins out of state. He went 163-33-9 during his
20-year run at Coral Gables.
Merritt, meanwhile, is closing on his 200th career victory.
After leading the Explorers back to the state finals for the first
time since 1982 last December, his record stands at 197-46-1.
Merritt has a record of 129-47 during his time at Columbus.
Some people have said it could be a down year for talent
in Miami-Dade County, but don’t believe them.
Eight players from Dade were on the U.S. Army All-American nominee list.
They were: Gulliver Prep defensive end Joseph Jackson,
receiver Dionte Mullins and defensive back Cedric Wright;
Central receiver Darnell Salomon and safety Jamel Cook;
Norland linebacker Emmett Rice; and Booker T. Washington
cornerback Donte Carriere-Williams. – Manny Navarro
Gulliver Prep defensive
end Joseph Jackson is one
of eight area players on the
U.S. Army All-American
QB Stephen Calvert, Carol City
RB Ivan Smith, South Dade
RB Amir Rasul, Coral Gables
WR Darnell Salomon, Miami Central
WR Jerrron Rollins, Columbus
OL Kadeem Telfort, Norland
OL Keldrick Cesar, Miami Edison
OL Navaughn Donaldson, Miami Central
OL Willie Pierre, Booker T. Washington
OL Boman Swanson, South Dade
UT Dionte Mullins, Gulliver Prep
UT Keyshawn Young, Miami High
DL David Hood, Carol City
DL Joseph Jackson, Gulliver Prep
DL Jamal Smith, American
DL Shakur Cooper, Coral Gables
LB Emmett Rice, Norland
LB Waymon Steed, Miami Central
LB De’Andre Wilder, Carol City
DB Keyshawn Young, Miami Sr
DB Keelen Roberts, Carol City
DB Trajan Bandy, Columbus
DB Shawn Davis, Southridge
UT Jamel Cook, Miami Central
3. Carol City
4. South Dade
5. Booker T. Washington