Armwood, Jefferson, Hillsborough, Robinson, Chamberlain, King, Blake, Lennard, Leto
In the one of the state’s toughest districts, Armwood prevailed with an 8-0 record, winning a key regular-season game 28-9 against Jefferson. The Dragons, however, moved into the playoffs as the runner-up and finally were eliminated by the Hawks in a rematch in the region final, 52-48. Hillsborough had a rough draw in that it suffered losses to Jefferson and Armwood in the season’s opening two weeks. From there the Terriers went 6-1, but needed help from other district teams to beat Armwood and Jefferson. Chamberlain gave Jefferson a scare in Week 9 before the Dragons pulled out a 28-24 victory in the final minutes. Armwood ended up moving on to the Class 6A state championship game with a 14-0 record, but the Hawks were dismantled in the title game by one of the nation’s most talented squads, Miami Central, which won 52-7.
The most glaring loss in this district next season will be Jefferson quarterback Deiondre Porter, who in 2013 posted some of the most incredible stats Hillsborough County has ever seen: 3,199 passing yards with 33 touchdowns and 1,499 rushing yards with 20 touchdowns. Porter will be playing for Florida in the fall.
Longtime area coach Al Davis, who started at Gibbs and finished at King, retired last year after a successful 6-4 final season with the Lions. King ended up staying at home with its new hire, Lions offensive coordinator Trey Thomas, a 35-year-old math teacher who has coached the past five years with King. Thomas also served as offensive coordinator at Brandon and Middleton before moving to King.
Two names jump out of this district — Armwood defensive end Byron Cowart and Hillsborough quarterback Dwayne Lawson — who are being recruited by just about every major university. Cowart (6-foot-4, 250 pounds) is ranked by some national recruiting services as the nation’s No. 1 DE prospect. Cowart’s list of favorites includes Alabama, Oregon and Florida. Lawson, who threw for 2,120 yards and 22 touchdowns and ran for 1,068 yards and nine touchdowns, has said he likes Miami but will visit several other major schools this summer.
Armwood must be considered the heavy favorite to repeat as district champion and is a strong favorite to make a run at a state title. The Hawks return just about every key player and should be much stronger along the offensive line, which was a rebuilding area in 2013. Right behind the Hawks will be Hillsborough and Jefferson, the latter of which must replace Porter’s athleticism and leadership. Two schools on the rise, Robinson and Chamberlain, appear capable of throwing a wrench into all the aforementioned teams’ plans.