No. 1 Tornadoes set for battle of reigning state champs

Booker T. Washington Football | Stuart Browning

Great playoff matchups are set across the southeast this weekend, but the Booker T. Washington at University-Ft. Lauderdale second-round matchup will be center stage. Booker T. Washington is coming off a Class 4A state title in 2012 and is the No. 1 team in the southeast, while also topping several national polls as a consensus No. 1. University reigns as Florida’s Class 3A state champion and jumped up to Class 4A this season, setting up the Southeast’s only playoff game featuring two defending state champions.


Booker T. Washington’s formula for success has been its dominating defense and talented senior class. The Tornadoes demolished nationally-ranked Norcross 55-0 the first game of the season on ESPN and have been cruising ever since. The Tornadoes have held seven of their 11 opponents to single digits and surrender just 8.18 points per game.


Six-foot-five, 240-pound Miami-commit Chad Thomas stars at defensive end for the Tornadoes. While Thomas eats up the strong side of the field, opponents must account for defensive end Demetrius Jackson, another Miami commitment who lines up on the weak side. Jackson stands 6-foot-4, 230 pounds and is a composite four star. Another Miami-commit, Nigel Bethel is Washington’s lockdown corner and safety Brandon Boyd has grabbed five interceptions this season. The defensive line has helped produce 119 tackles for loss this season and more than 40 sacks.


Florida State-commit Treon Harris quarterbacks the offense to near perfection and the All-American returned to the starting role last week after missing several starts with an ankle injury. Harris threw two touchdown passes and the Tornadoes rolled past Glades Central (Fla.) 40-18, winning their 23rd straight game.


If there is a team with the experienced leaders and star power needed to shock the Tornadoes on Friday, it is the Suns. Five-star junior running back Jordan Scarlett is lightning in a bottle and can score touchdowns running or catching the ball out of the backfield. Air Force-commit Lajuan Hunt shares the ball carrying duties with Scarlett and the two backs each rushed for three University touchdowns in the Suns’ first-round stomping of Gulliver Prep (Fla.) 47-7. The Suns’ explosive running game takes pressure off Auburn-commit Sean White, who is quarterbacking the offense at an extremely high level. White will need to play his best ball to conquer the mighty Tornadoes’ defense.

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