Miami Central, Northwestern Prepare for Another Tilt at State Football Title

Do you find yourself unconsciously smashing things: strangers on the street, shopping carts, trash cans, or stray poodles? Do you have an irresistible urge to sprint until you puke; wear a jockstrap; or put eye black on like Cristina Kirchner?

Fear not, friend. Your time has come.

Yesterday was the first day of full-pad football practice for Miami-Dade high schools. Riptide takes a look at the city's two main contenders for the state 6A title: Northwestern and Miami Central.

Both teams have a serious shot at making it to the title game in Orlando December 18.

After one of its best seasons, in which it narrowly lost in the semifinals to state champs Miramar, Miami Central has undergone major changes. Gone are quarterback Jeffrey Godfrey (UCF), leading rusher Brandon Gainer (Kentucky), and leading receiver Joshua Reese (UCF). Filling the void are Miami Springs transfer Rakeem Cato at quarterback, running back Devonta Freeman, and wide receivers Tommy Shuler (transfer from Miami Springs), Charlie Gaines, and Durell Eskridge.

"I think we are going to do pretty good this year," head coach Telly Lockette says. "Last year, we got to the door but couldn't kick it down." He describes QB Cato as a "natural quarterback" with a deadly-accurate passing game.

"I think we are going to win state," Cato asserts. "The only person that can stop us is ourselves."

Northwestern will certainly try. After losing to their crosstown rivals in the quarterfinals last year, the Bulls are led by one of the top college prospects in the state: QB Teddy Bridgewater.

"Bridgewater is a tremendous two-way athlete," concedes Lockette, who was Northwestern's offensive coordinator until last year. "He has kept a lot of coaches up late at night watching game tape."

Northwestern (10-1 last year) enters the season ranked 34th in the nation, five spots behind Miami Central (12-2).

The two teams are slated to play October 8 at Northwestern's stadium at NW 71st Street and NW 12th Avenue.

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