- September 7, 2022
Scottie Littles does not tolerate mistakes.
Big or small, on the field or in the classroom, his Booker High football players will be held accountable for their actions.
It has been a primary focus for Littles since he was named the Tornadoes coach in February.
"We need to build our structure, our discipline," Littles said after an Aug. 16 practice. "(These are) the things that matter, the things that create winning. Family, love, sacrifice. We're trying to teach that every day. It's been a roller coaster, but that's what you expect when you take over a program. We'll get there."
Littles said that while there has been an infusion of talent into the program this offseason, the team lacks consistency. Sometimes, practices are effective and efficient. Sometimes, they're lackadaisical. Littles' goal is to eliminate the latter, he said. It's part of why he's not letting anything slide at practice, even critiquing how in sync the team's clapping while they warm up and stretch.
Teams play how they prepare. If Booker is not disciplined, Littles said, the Tornadoes won't win many games. And Littles, who holds a 54-19 career record at two schools, does not plan on losing.
The new looks at Booker do not stop with its coach. The Tornadoes will be quarterbacked by Will Carter Jr., a Riverview High transfer. Carter, a senior, split time with Joe Borchers for the Rams in 2021. He threw for 618 yards and nine touchdowns while completing 54% on his passes. He also ran the ball 62 times for 270 yards and a touchdown. With another year of experience and a starting job all to himself at Booker, fans can except to see Carter use all his skills to move the Tornadoes offense down the field.
"Everyone is excited for this year," Carter said. "We have high hopes and the school has a great atmosphere (at football games). We are excited to put on a show."
When Carter throws, he'll have an explosive target in sophomore receiver Rashawn Peterson, who transferred from Braden River High. Peterson did not put up massive numbers as a freshman — the Pirates had their passing game derailed by injuries — but he has shown enough natural explosiveness at various camps this summer to earn scholarship offers from six NCAA Division I schools including Florida State, Penn State and South Florida. Peterson is listed as a running back (and free safety) in addition to wide receiver on the team's MaxPreps roster, so do not be surprised to see him get a number of carries this season as well.
The Tornadoes will also have sophomore athlete Ahmad Hunter, another Riverview transfer who showed flashes at running back, plus returnees such as seniors Omarion Patterson and Gavin Stanford and junior Josiah Booker. Like Peterson, this trio and many others on the Booker roster have multiple position designations, meaning fans can expect to see a wide variety of formations and play calling from Littles and his staff, with players lining up all over the field. If it works, it could make for some exciting football.
On defense, senior defensive tackle Brandon Bass — who also plays on the offensive line — can be a 6-foot-2, 285-pound terror for opposing linemen. He caused havoc in the Tornadoes' spring game against North Port High and should rack up a bunch of tackles for loss in 2022. Junior defensive end Rah'shad Hill is also primed for a big year. Hill made a number of plays against North Port from a stand-up position on the end of the line, getting to ball carriers in a hurry.
On the back end, senior Gavin Stanford will use his versatility to play the free safety position. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound Stanford is a hard hitter and one of the team's locker room leaders. The Tornadoes also have Lakewood Ranch High transfer Dior Keys, a cornerback/free safety who can create impact plays and is a lively presence at practice.
Since taking the Tornadoes job, Littles has said that Booker needs to show it can compete with area teams before it can compete on a state level. That philosophy plays out in Booker's scheduling. The Tornadoes play one game against a team outside of Sarasota, Bradenton and Charlotte counties that is not in their district: an Oct. 21 game against Wiregrass Ranch High. All of their other opponents either call one of those three counties home or are in the Tornadoes' district, such as DeSoto County High.
A season-opening game against Cardinal Mooney High, another team with high expectations, will be a good barometer for the Tornadoes' 2022 outlook. If Booker wins or is at least competitive, the Tornadoes could find many winnable games on its schedule.