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Congratulations to the Northwestern Bulls

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Guest marlins02


Bull marketNorthwestern junior quarterback Jacory Harris finished with a career-high 308 yards and three touchdowns.


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Northwestern made its case that it is the best team in the state, and it earned a place among Miami-Dade County's best high school football teams of all-time Saturday night. All of that in spite of off-field distractions surrounding its star running back, Antwain Easterling, who was in the starting lineup Saturday.


The Bulls put an exclamation point on a 15-0 season by beating Altamonte Springs Lake Brantley 34-14 to claim the Class 6A state championship in front of a state championship single-game record crowd of 24,368 at Dolphin Stadium.


''This is the best feeling in the world,'' said Northwestern coach Roland Smith, who capped his sixth season as the Bulls' coach with his first state title, and spent several minutes kissing the trophy and carrying his 4-year-old son, Roland III. ``It hasn't sunk in yet. Maybe it will when we get back to the hotel and we party tonight.''




Northwestern won its fourth state championship overall and third FHSAA title. The prior two came in 1995 and 1998, when the Bulls also went 15-0. The first came in 1963 before integration. Northwestern also is the first team to win an FHSAA title without leaving its county.


After the final whistle, Northwestern players ran around the field, tackled each other, and some hugged and cried tears of joy. Even assistant coach Luther Dollar ran toward the edge of the stands and high-fived fans.


And everywhere you looked around the stadium, fans in blue and gold were holding up their index and pinky fingers to make the ''Bulls'' sign.


''This was a great victory,'' said Northwestern junior quarterback Jacory Harris, who finished with a career-high 308 yards, completed 13 of 23 passes and had three touchdowns and an interception. ``It took a lot of adjustments and us playing assignment football. The best team won tonight.''


Northwestern came in three votes behind Class 5A state and defending national champion Lakeland in the Beef 'O Brady's Top 25, the only poll that ranks the best teams in the state regardless of classification and awards an unofficial state championship. Steve Berrey, who coordinates the rankings, believes the Bulls might surpass Lakeland to become Dade's first overall state champion since they did it in 1998.


Northwestern's star running back, Easterling, who was arrested Thursday on charges that he had consensual sex with a 14-year-old, was allowed to play Saturday. He finished with 157 yards on 21 carries and a touchdown. Dade's rushing leader ran for 2,503 yards and 33 TDs this season. He also tied former Frostproof and NFL running back Travis Henry's state record of 14 games with more than 100 yards rushing in a season.




The team also had to deal with tragedy when it learned Friday that senior defensive lineman Ronald Jackson's mother, Delores Jackson, passed away. Jackson said she wasn't sick and hasn't been told the cause of death.


''She told me she loved me, and one of the last things she told me when we spoke was to win today,'' said Jackson, who finished with five tackles and wrote the letters ''R-I-P'' on the tape on his wrists. ``I know she had the best seat in the house tonight and she's clapping for me.''


Northwestern, which came in averaging 44 points, finished with 541 total yards. The Patriots (13-2), the first team from Seminole County to reach a state final, scored the first points on a 5-yard touchdown run by Aaron Miles. The 7-0 deficit was the largest of the season for Northwestern, which shut out seven teams and had given up 94 points entering the game.


It took four minutes for Northwestern to respond when Harris connected with junior wide receiver Tommy Streeter in stride for a 48-yard touchdown. Harris then completed a 23-yard touchdown pass to Aldarius Johnson to take a 14-7 lead with 3:29 left in the quarter.


Johnson, the county's season record-holder for catches, receiving yards and touchdowns, finished with seven receptions for 149 yards and two touchdowns.


The Bulls' defense shut out Lake Brantley in the second half and capped the scoring when senior cornerback Tijuan Davis intercepted Carl Randolph's pass and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown.

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