Booker T.: One-sided story

By KEITH NIEBUHR, Times Staff Writer
Published December 7, 2007

Tonight at Miami's Traz Powell Stadium, Armwood plays Miami Booker T. Washington in a Class 4A semifinal that features two of the state's elite programs. These teams have quite a history. This will be their fourth semifinal showdown - Armwood won the past three. For the Hawks, this rivalry has produced joy. For the Tornadoes, each game has ended in heartbreak. A look back at their meetings:

Round 1: 2003

Setup: High-scoring Armwood, which entered 13-0, crushed Countryside 46-9 the week before. The Tornadoes had two losses but seemed to be getting hot. Before the game, Armwood's team bus got lost. The Hawks arrived 20 minutes before kickoff.

The action:Armwood rolled to an early lead and didn't look back. The offense gained big numbers on the ground, and the defense sacked Booker T.'s quarterback six times and forced five turnovers.

Final: Armwood 44-14

Postgame quote: "This is great for Seffner. It kind of puts us on the map." - Armwood coach Sean Callahan

Excitement scale: 7.5

Epilogue: Armwood beat Lakeland Lake Gibson 29-21 to win the program's first state football title.

Round 2: 2004

Setup: With most of its top offensive players back, Armwood was expected to again crush the Tornadoes. But thanks largely to quarterback Alwan Lee, Booker T. had a much stronger squad.

The action: Behind Lee's 312 passing yards and 175 rushing yards, Booker T. led late before Armwood struck for six with a trick play - an 80-yard double pass with 2:01 left. Instead of going for the tie, Armwood went for two and got it on a run by Kalvin Bailey.

Final: Armwood 36-35

Postgame quote: "I'm still kind of in shock. I'm glad it's over." - Armwood quarterback Jameel Williams

Excitement scale: 9.9

Epilogue: Armwood routed Lakeland Lake Gibson 49-21 to win its second straight 4A title.

Round 3: 2005

Setup: Unbeaten Booker T., wanting to avenge the previous season's stunning loss, faced one-loss Armwood at Traz Powell Stadium in front of 8,000 fans. Because the Hawks had many new faces, it appeared to finally be Booker T.'s year.

The action: The Hawks trailed 34-29 with 2:25 left and the ball at their 20. Ten plays later, they took the lead on a touchdown pass from Justin Hickman to Lance Tillison with eight seconds left.

Final: Armwood 37-34

Postgame quote: "I told our guys if we kept it close in the final seconds, we'd win the game" - Callahan

Excitement scale: 10.0

Epilogue: Hawks lost to Tim Tebow-led Ponte Vedra Beach Nease in the 4A final.