Saturday, September 22, 2018
Prep Sports Report

Know the foe: Miami Northwestern

Class 6A state football final

Who: Miami Northwestern (12-2) vs. Armwood (14-0)

When/where: 8 p.m. Friday; Camping World Stadium, Orlando

Admission: $12 (general admission) and $17 if purchased in advance; $15 (general) and $20 at the gate. Parking is $10.

Know the foe: This is Miami Northwestern's eighth title game appearance. The Bulls have won four state titles, the last in 2007. Their last championship game appearance was in 2008. Northwestern coach Max Edwards has been a part of numerous state titles in Dade County. He was an assistant for the Bulls under Billy Rolle and Roland Smith from 1998-2004, helping the program win its first title in 1998.

He went on to become the defensive coordinator at Miami Washington under Tim "Ice" Harris from 2006-09 and was a part of the Tornadoes' championship team in 2007.

From there, Edwards joined Miami Central, leading a ferocious defensive unit that helped the Rockets win four of five titles from 2010-14. He is quite familiar with playing Armwood in state championship games. Edwards faced the Hawks in four straight title games, winning three.

Two seasons ago, Edwards returned to Northwestern for his first head coaching job. After missing the playoffs in 2015, Edwards led the Bulls to the region semifinals last year and a state championship berth this season.
Of the 60 players on Northwestern's roster, 28 have offers from colleges, including 19 from Division I-A schools. Six players — quarterback Chatarius "Tutu" Atwell (Louisville), receiver/defensive back Nigel Bethel (Florida), defensive lineman/linebacker Demetreius Mayes (UCF), defensive lineman Davontae McCrae (NC State), defensive back Richad Wildgoose (Georgia) and defensive back Divaad Wilson (Florida) — have already made their college commitments.

Key matchup: Northwestern's Atwell vs. Armwood's defense. Northwestern has a knack for developing multidimensional quarterbacks. Teddy Bridgewater was a standout for the Bulls who went on to star at Louisville and is now with the Minnesota Vikings. Atwell is following the same path. The four-year starter is the son of the former Miami High and Minnesota standout by the same name.

Using his feet to buy time on throws or simply make defenders on breakaway runs, Atwell has led a high-powered offense in the same style that Bridgewater did at the school. Atwell is going to Louisville, too. But he likely will be a receiver or returner. For now, Atwell still is under center and that's what Armwood's defense has to worry about.

The Hawks have been outstanding on defense. In four playoff games, they have allowed a total of 20 yards rushing and have 16 sacks. By stuffing the run, the defensive linemen can pin their ears back and get after the quarterback in passing situations. But they have to find a way to contain the elusive Atwell. At least Armwood should be at full strength for this task. Malcolm Lamar (knee) and Fitzroy Gardner (hamstring) played sparingly the past two weeks because of injury but should be ready to go Friday.

Audible I: "(Northwestern) is big and fast and physical. That's typical of most Miami teams. Their quarterback might not have a lot of size (5-foot-10, 150 pounds), but he's special. I don't know how anyone can say otherwise after watching his film. We have our hands full. But our kids are excited for this opportunity. It's something they've worked for all year. " — Armwood coach Evan Davis

Audible II: "Armwood has a lot of speed on defense and can really fly to the ball. We might need a couple of injuries from them on that side of the ball in order to pull through. This is probably the toughest defense we've faced all year." — Northwestern coach Max Edwards