Posted: 8:30 pm Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

Playoff Primer 2011: Can Inlet Grove upset powerhouse Booker T. Washington? 

By Matt Porter

There are 16 playoff games on Friday involving teams from our area. In the buildup to the games, we’ll break down every matchup.

To make the playoffs is an accomplishment in any season. Especially when it follows an 0-10 year. In year two at Inlet Grove, head coach Jimmie Bell has done just that.

The Hurricanes took a big step forward this season, but they’re facing an opponent that should stop them dead in their tracks.

Miami’s Booker T. Washington is the top-ranked team in Class 4A. Not only that, its best players are juniors and sophomores. Coach Tim “Ice” Harris has a loaded roster that has lost once – a non-district game to Miami Central, the team that smoked Dwyer in the preseason.

Inlet Grove has won four straight and hung with a top-10 team – Cardinal Newman – in an 11-8 loss, but the best team it has played – Jupiter Christian – smoked them 52-13.

Booker T. is as good, if not better, than Jupiter Christian.

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. General admission is $8; reserved seating is $9.

Record: 5-5
How they qualified: Runner-up in District 7-4A.
Average points per game: 19.1
Average points allowed per game: 18.5
Offensive yardage totals: 90 rush, 155 pass per game.
Offensive stars: QB Devonte Allen (56% completion rate, 1,194 yards, 10 TD, 3 INT), RB Shawun Lurry (276 rushing yards, 1 TD, 499 receiving yards, 8 TD)
Defensive yardage totals: 96.3 rush, 31.3 pass per game.
Defensive stars: DE Justin Russ, LB Lavonte Williams, DE Jaunathen Sams.
Common opponents with Washington: None.

Record: 9-1
How they qualified: Winner of District 8-4A.
Average points per game: 43.6.
Average points allowed per game: 11.1.
Offensive yardage totals: 214.5 rush, 161.3 pass per game.
Offensive stars: QB Treon Harris (58% completion rate, 1,090 passing yards, 12 TD, 4 INT, 623 rushing yards, 13 TD), WR Nicholas Norris (470 receiving yards, 4 TD), RB Krondis Larry (561 rushing yards, 8 TD).
Defensive yardage totals: 66.8 rush, 89.9 pass per game.
Defensive stars: LB Matthew Thomas.
Common opponents with Inlet Grove: None.

Booker T.’s run-heavy attack has produced three of the top 11 ball-carriers among Miami-Dade small schools. Five-foot-10 sophomore Treon Harris, 5-6 sophomore Krondis Larry and junior D’Von Ballard have combined for 1,676 yards and 27 touchdowns. Junior Marsean Hunter (231 yards, four touchdowns) also sees plenty of work.

In addition to being Booker T.’s leading rusher, Harris plays quarterback (and fills in at free safety). He has shown an accurate arm and is the fifth-leading passer among Dade small schools. His favorite target is junior Nicholas Norris, who averages 22.4 yards per catch. The offensive line gets a big push from tackle Denver Kirkland, a 6-foot-5, 280-pound senior.

The numbers are staggering. Booker T. has allowed a touchdown or less in six of its 10 games, and more than two touchdowns once in its last eight. Scored 38 points or more in each of its last seven. The Tornadoes have been just that to district opponents, winning all five district games by scoring an average of 50.6 per game.

That’s bad news for Inlet Grove, which hasn’t shown it can protect senior quarterback Devonte Allen, who on the season has minus-29 net rushing yards. Freshman Shawun Lurry does it all on offense – he takes handoffs and splits out wide, and has been a reliable target who picks up yards after the catch. He also is the ‘Canes top defensive back.

They’ll have to worry about 6-3, 195-pound outside linebacker Matthew Thomas, one of the top players in South Florida for the junior class.

Inlet does have a strong defense, led by 215-pound linebacker Lavonte Williams, a versatile hard-hitter who Bell calls the heart of his defense. Seniors Justin Russ and Jaunathen Sams are strong on the defensive line. The ‘Canes feature of the area’s better kickers in senior Christian Hernandez, who makes pressure kicks and has range of more than 40 yards.

As Inlet is a public charter school with no attendance boundary, players come from all over Palm Beach County to attend. That makes full attendance at practice a challenge, as Bell noted before the season. He said his players had a renewed focus heading into 2011, and it paid off with a .500 season and a playoff appearance. If they can pull off an upset, they’ll grab the attention of fans across South Florida.