"Hell yeah it is a big game. It is Overtown versus Liberty City," Errol Burroughs says. The Overtown convenience store manager plans to be at Traz Powell Stadium Friday night when the Central High School Rockets take on the Booker T. Washington Senior High School Tornadoes.
He won't be alone. There will be an estimated 10,000 fans in the stadium.
It is serious high school football.
Both teams are nationally ranked. Rating agencies are split on who is number one. The winner of the game just might emerge as the acknowledged high school national champion.
Both teams are laced with student athletes that have committed to top-notch national colleges and universities. The Central High team features running backs Joe Yearby and Dalvin Cook. The Tornadoes are led by quarterback Treon Harris backed by Chad Thomas, Nigel Bethel, and Demitris Jackson. Both teams were state champions last year. Central took the 6A championship. Booker T. snatched the 4A crown.
What makes the contest even more interesting is most of the players know each other having played on Optimists youth teams and so do the coaches, not to mention the alumni for both schools who have been down the rivalry road before.
Speaking of rival Booker T. coach Tim "Ice" Harris, Central High School coach Roland Smith says, "I know him well. We eat dinner together. He eats at my house. I eat at his house. We were coaches together at Northwestern High School. I want the bragging rights!"
Both coaches agree that this game is a huge positive for the players and the community.
"These kids set a nice little standard here in the community that brings everybody together," says Harris. "And that is the positive that goes with high school football and that is so exciting to be part of."
Asked about all the different national polls that rate the high school football teams and the confusion about who is the number one team, Smith turned into a diplomat.
"We will find out Friday night. There are national polls that focus on one team or another but we will find out for sure after Friday night," he said.
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