Look at Booker T. Washington sophomore quarterback Daniel Richardson, and you’d be quick to notice his bright-eyed, baby face and his calm – almost reserved – demeanor.
But watch him operate the controls of the Tornadoes’ offense and you see the player that many have tabbed as the player that could challenge almost every Miami-Dade County passing record.
Richardson threw four touchdown passes and ran for another one as Booker T. Washington advanced to its fifth straight Class 4A state semifinal game with an emphatic 44-14 win over Miami Edison Thursday night at Traz Powell.
The Tornadoes (9-3) could face familiar foe Cocoa (10-1) – if it defeats Orlando Jones High – next week in the Class 4A state semifinals. Booker T., which will be on the road next week no matter who it’s opponent is, has defeated the Tigers each year on its path to its four consecutive state championships.
Richardson, who came into Thursday’s game already having thrown 28 touchdown passes – compared to 13 interceptions – this season, was efficient throwing the ball – completing 11 of 14 passes. He also showed his athleticism by picking up 55 yards on the ground, including an 11-yard touchdown scamper to put the Tornadoes on the board first.
Booker T. Washington coach Tim “Ice” Harris said Richardson ran the offense to near perfection Thursday night.
“Daniel Richardson is doing a great job of running…almost to perfection,” Harris said. “He’s finding the guys that he needs to find and showing that he’s really growing up and maturing – still just being a sophomore quarterback.”
After taking a 22-6 lead into halftime, Booker T. totally took control of the game with a 22-point third quarter.
Running back Craig Nelson started the run by capping the team’s first drive of the second half with a 1-yard touchdown plunge then Richardson connected with Brian Livingston and DeAndre Williams on touchdown strikes of 63 and 73 yards respectively to put the Tornadoes up 44-6 and turn on a running clock.
Edison (8-2) tacked on a touchdown with two minutes left in the game – a 33-yard Marcus Hill touchdown catch – to make the final margin 44-14.
Nelson had a heavy workload Thursday for Booker T. – running the ball 18 times yielding 118 yards. Receiver Sharod Johnson led with four receptions for 69 yards; while Williams, Livingston and Quayvon Beckford each caught touchdown passes.
Booker T. racked up 430 total yards of offense compared to just 154 for the Red Raiders. The Tornadoes defense also racked up four sacks and got an interception from senior defensive back Richard Dames.
Richardson doled out credit to everyone when talking about the offense’s performance Thursday.
“The offense as a group did really well tonight,” Richardson said. “The offensive line gave me good protection and they opened up the running lanes for Craig Nelson. The receivers made great plays…they made some catches where I didn’t know if they’d be able to come with the ball and they did.”
“I’m feeling really comfortable in the offense right now and I feel really good about where we are as a team right now,” Richardson added.
Richardson’s confidence in this team showed even more when asked about a potential showdown with Cocoa.
“I respect that team,” Richardson began. “But next week they’re going to see that we’re the better team.”
For Edison, Thursday marked the end of what was a renaissance season. The Red Raiders ended an 11-year playoff drought and set the groundwork for the program to find success moving forward.
The Red Raiders showed how far they’ve come by opening the playoffs with an impressive 36-7 road win at Clewiston in the regional semifinals.
Senior running back Eldridge “E.J.” Thomas, who rushed for 44 yards Thursday night, showed himself to be one of the more productive – yet unheralded – ball carriers in South Florida by ending his career with over 2,100 total rushing yards and 28 career touchdowns.