SEFFNER — Compared to past teams, this year's Armwood High football squad doesn't field a slew of four-star Division I commits and All-Americans.
Yet, the Hawks are undefeated at 9-0, are district champs, ranked among the top 20 teams in Florida in two state polls and are No. 77 in the Rivals.com national Top 100.
With only 12 seniors, head coach Sean Callahan said the juniors and sophomores have shown maturation beyond their years, a plus for a program that started five sophomores in the loss to Gainesville in the Class 6A region final last season.
“The good thing is for us is that we're winning and we're young,” Callahan said. “We're going be good next year. We have a very talented young team and some talented guys.”
Among those returning next year will be highly recruited defensive end Byron Cowart, nationally recognized kicker/punter Sterling Hoffrichter, quarterback Noah Johnson (1,180 total yards, 16 TDs) and linebacker Jordan Griffin.
In the meantime, Callahan said an unselfish attitude is the key ingredient to this year's success.
“We're past the selfish point and everybody is buying into what we're doing,” he said.
Offensively, the Hawks have spread the ball to a multitude of skill players.
“I have four running backs and they receive the ball pretty equal,” Callahan said. “(Craig) Carrington, Greg Newton, (Caylan) Holloway and (Alfonso) Thornton are capable of starting. With our receivers, we're finding out more and more that we need to throw more. It's tough to game plan for us.”
To add, Callahan said junior linebacker Curtis Woodard, who has been sidelined with a sprained MCL since Week 3, should return for the region quarterfinal.
Porter in unchartered territory
Jefferson quarterback Deiondre Porter is having a season that few, if any, Hillsborough County quarterbacks have had.
Porter not only leads the county in passing (99 completions in 180 attempts for 2,247 yards, 25 touchdowns and five interceptions), but ranks second in the county in rushing yards with 132 carries for 1,105 yards and 14 touchdowns.
“We're not much into statistics around here, but now that you mention it, I can't think of anybody who has had that type of production both passing and rushing in the same season,” Jefferson coach Jeremy Earle said. “There have been others who have put up great statistics, but it's usually (been more heavy on the passing, or vice versa).”
Earle also made a point to say that Porter has also suffered some deep sacks and had the ball hiked over his head on several occasions, which have severely cut into his rushing statistics.
It should also be noted that just across town, Hillsborough quarterback Dwayne Lawson has put up some eye-popping numbers of his own: 101 completions in 184 attempts for 1,942 yards, 21 touchdowns and six interceptions to go with 102 carries for 855 yards and eight touchdowns.
It's fairly safe to say that Hillsborough County has never had two quarterbacks throw for more than 2,000 yards and rush for more than a 1,000 yards in the same regular season. But with one game to play, it could happen this year.
For the record, Sickles running back Ray Ray McCloud III leads the county in rushing with 207 carries for 1,685 yards and 19 touchdowns.