TAMPA — Friday’s crucial Class 6A-District 8 game ended in a victory — yes, another victory for Armwood — this time 28-9 against Jefferson.
Minutes after the final horn blew, Jefferson coach Jeremy Earle gathered his team around him.
“You remember this feeling,” he said. “You remember it because when we play them again (perhaps in the playoffs) you will make sure not to feel it again. You know, I know, (Armwood) knows, that we are just as good a football team. We are an angry football team, an angry coaching staff, and an angry school and those are the people I’m taking with me as we move on. I want you to reflect on this. Think about it. And on Monday it is on. We are getting after it.”
Armwood? Well, a few minutes after Earle finished, Armwood coach Sean Callahan spoke with an extreme amount of confidence.
“Our kids always feel like everything is going to be OK,” Callahan said. “It’s that feeling that it’s Armwood, Armwood, so everything is going to work out because it’s Armwood.”
Down 9-0 in the first half with Jefferson dominating and the Hawks picking up a slew of penalties? No worries.
Just before halftime, Armwood’s Talvin Bailey caught a 45-yard touchdown pass, and then, to open the second half, Bailey had a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to put the Hawks up 14-9.
From there, it was all Armwood highlights (interception, long runs and completions), and Jefferson frustrations (penalties, dropped passes and poor field position).
So now, that said, is Jefferson (3-1, 2-1) good enough this year to break down the mystique Armwood (5-0, 4-0) has built up the past decade?
It appears the Dragons are, especially after seeing quarterback Deiondre Porter run and pass through the Hawks defense through the majority of the first half.
“This is the first time this team has really faced a situation like this,” Earle said. “We will learn from it. Hopefully we will see that if we do certain things we can have a different outcome the next time around.
“I believe we can.”
When asked if he thought another meeting against Jefferson might be tougher, Callahan said, “I don’t know. It’s like I said before, for them it’s a huge thing. For us it’s just another game.”
Confidence? Mystique? Bravado?
Bottom line is that whatever you want to call it, Armwood has it, and a lot of other teams are trying to get it.