Sunday, September 16, 2007

Bulls On The Rampage In Texas

Northwestern receiver Tommy Streeter

They came. They saw. And they conquered. Congratulations to the Miami Northwestern Bulls on their 29-21 victory over the defending Texas and USA Today national champion Southlake Carroll Dragons. For years, it has been written in books and shown on movies how huge high school football is in the State of Texas. The book "Friday Night Lights" was a best seller. The movie also did well at the box office and a TV show based on the book and movie made its debut on NBC last year.

No program in the past decade has represented dominance in Texas better than Southlake Carroll High School. The school is located in a wealthy Dallas suburb where the average household income exceeded $185,000. Southlake Carroll head coach Hal Wasson makes over $90,000 a year and only coaches football. He doesn't teach a single class. The Dragons play their home games in a $15 million stadium and have their own indoor practice facility that would be the envy of some NFL teams. The Dragons average close to 20,000 fans per home game. They had won 49 consecutive games and 3 of the last 4 Texas Class 5A state titles.

Miami Northwestern High School is located in Liberty City--one of the most economically deprived areas in Florida. The school sits across the street from the notorious Pork & Beans Housing Project. The Bulls are the defending Florida 6A state champs. But coming into this season, the program was mired in controversy after the entire coaching staff was fired for covering up a sex crime committed by its star running back Antwain Easterling. Miami-Dade School Superintendent Rudy Crew had threatened to cancel Northwestern's season.

Enter new head coach Billy Rolle, who was hired to clean up Northwestern's program. Rolle has been a proven winner. He's the only coach in Dade County history to win state titles at two different schools. He coached Northwestern from 1997 to 2000 and won the 6A title in 1998. He later coached Killian High to the state title in 2004. Known as a strict disciplinarian and for his attention to detail, Rolle was the perfect coach to restore prestige to the damaged Northwestern program.

Northwestern's victory Saturday night came in front of more than 30,000 fans at Ford Stadium on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Most of those fans left in shock. The game was also televised nationally by ESPN U. The Bulls had many standouts. Five of their players have made verbal committments to attend the University of Miami.

But the biggest star of the gane was a kid who had yet to make a college choice--Tommy Streeter. At 6'4 and quick as a hiccup, Streeter caught 4 passes for over 100 yards and 3 touchdowns. He repeatedly burned the smaller and slower Dragon defensive backs for big plays.

Canes fans who have been frustrated with mediocre play on offense the last few seasons can now look forward to some great talent coming to Coral Gables. Bulls quarterback Jacory Harris fired 4 touchdown passes and showed his cool in the pocket. Harris outplayed his counterpart Riley Dodge who tossed a pair of costly interceptions in the second half. Harris is one of five Northwestern players who will play their college ball for UM. Receiver Aldarius Johnson, who broke all the county records last year, also caught a touchddown pass and will be wearing the orange and green next year. Indeed help is on the way.

While it was only a regular season game,I can't emphasize how huge this victory was for Northwestern. Southlake Carroll had built a reputation of invincibility. None of the players on the Dragons roster had ever lost a football game. They were the pride of the Lone Star State. They had taken on all comers in Texas and beaten them all. But Northwestern proved to the nation what we in South Florida have known for a long time. The best football is played right here. Case closed.

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