Coach: Sean Callahan (25th season, 195-101)
Last season: 14-1
Colors: Royal blue, white and maroon
Stadium: Lyle Flagg Stadium, 12000 U.S. Highway 92, Seffner
Playoff history: 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013
Last appearance: Beat Venice 31-19; beat Jefferson 52-48; beat Springstead 41-0; beat Bartram Trail 35-28; lost 52-7 to Miami Central.
State titles: 2003, 2004
Aug. 29 vs. Durant, 7:30
Sept. 5 at Blake, 7:30
Sept. 12 vs. Hillsborough, 7:30
Sept. 19 at Robinson, 7:30
Sept. 26 vs. Jefferson, 7:30
Oct. 10 at Leto, 7:30
Oct. 17 vs. Lennard, 7:30
Oct. 24 at King, 7:30
Oct. 31 vs. Chamberlain, 7:30
Nov. 7 at Strawberry Crest, 7:30
Mark your calendar
Class 6A state championship game, opponent TBD, Dec. 13: Let’s face it: it’s always state title or bust at Armwood, but especially after you reach the state title game (like the Hawks did in 2013) and return everyone the following year (like they do in 2014). The Hawks’ schedule will have a few challenges, like Jefferson and Hillsborough, but their closest game against the same schedule last year was 19 points, and not a single opponent scored in double figures. State championship or bust, indeed.
Another milestone? Sean Callahan won his 200th game Sept. 28, 2012, against Leto before a number of his victories were stripped by the Florida High School Athletic Association. But he’s right back at “officially” winning No. 200 again. With 195 victories, Callahan could win his 200th game (again) when the Hawks play Jefferson on Sept. 26.
Weak spots addressed: “We couldn’t block anyone last year,” says Callahan, but this year he is happy with how the offensive line has improved. Returners like Kevin Richardson (6-2, 315), Evan Montreuil (6-1, 250) and Willie Edom (6-1, 265) are bolstered by the addition of Tampa Bay Tech junior transfer Mike Brown, who at 6-foot-3, 340 pounds will start at center.
Rock solid: Callahan thinks the strongest unit on his team is the running backs. Caylon Holloway will start, but he is backed up by a strong group of runners, including a freshman, Brian Snead. Countryside transfer Mekhi Reynolds was expected to be on the cusp of a breakout season, and we’ll see if that translates in Seffner. Callahan said Armwood will spread the ball around as usual.
Ware and tear: The defensive line lost Hyriam Frederick, who was second in sacks, but there won’t be much dropoff this season. Jeremy Ware (five sacks) and Byron Cowart (13 sacks) are back, and Quinton Singletary (five sacks) has been converted from linebacker to defensive tackle.
Putting in work: Callahan isn’t sure that this is his most talented team ever, but he says it is definitely his hardest-working squad. He said 21 players have made the 1,000-pound club (weights), and the team put in extra effort this offseason to prepare to get back to the state final.
DE Byron Cowart, Sr.: Callahan said his star end is improved, and if he plays hard on every down there will be no stopping what he can do this season The top-rated player in the country according to Rivals, Cowart heads up a defense that should be one of the best in school history.
LB Jordan Griffin, Sr.: Griffin led the Hawks with 150 tackles last season and is one of the best linebackers in Tampa Bay. Expect similar numbers this fall, and maybe even a few additional splash plays from the Hawks backer.
CB Aaron Covington, Sr.: Arguably the top lockdown corner around, Covington had 35 tackles, four interceptions and 10 passes defended last year. He’s not a guy many teams will try and throw on.
QB Noah Johnson, Sr.: He burst onto the scene last year and finished as the team’s top passer (1,980 yards) and rusher (809 yards) while producing 32 touchdowns. Johnson continues to improve each season.
RB Caylon Holloway, Sr.: Is a 1,000-yard season in store for Holloway? We won’t be surprised. Holloway (420 yards, eight touchdowns) can run, catch and block, and is the Hawks’ most complete back.
LB Justin Manning, Jr.: On any other team, Manning (92 tackles) might be the star. But on a loaded defense like Armwood’s, he is an underrated gem.
RB Brian Snead, Fr.: Snead has a chance to be special, Callahan says. “We’re really excited about him.” At 5-10 and a solid 185 pounds, Snead will fit right in the Hawk backfield.
WR Darrian McNeil, So.: Probably the Hawks quarterback of the future, McNeil is a budding star. He saw action in seven games as a freshman, but this year will be the one casual fans learn about him.
LB Kyheem Campbell, Jr.: Campbell transferred to Armwood early last spring, hit the weight room immediately and has impressed the coaches; he could be starting at outside linebacker.
DB Kaylaun Edwards, Sr.: Edwards missed last season and the spring after tearing his ACL, but he is back and will be starting at cornerback.
SS Dedarallo Blue, Jr.: Blue played in every game last season, had an excellent offseason and should be much more visible in 2014.
“Really, our staff did a great job working with what we had last year in winning 14 games. We got beat by a really great team at state (52-7) and that’s going to happen here in Florida. …We have a really mature team coming back and they talk about it all the time. It will be used as motivation. It fueled this group in the offseason.” — Callahan