SEFFNER — Alvin Bailey’s most nimble footwork Friday was figurative.
Moments after helping Armwood (9-3) will its way past Hillsborough in the Class 6A region semifinals, the University of Florida-bound senior refused to address the lingering turf toe ailment that won’t allow him to sidestep anyone except a converging reporter.
Reporter: How much pain are you in?
Bailey: “I ain’t in no pain.”
Bailey: “I’m good, man, I’m ready to go for next week.”
Reporter: Which toe is it?
Bailey: “No toe. No toe.”
With that, Bailey — undisputed vocal leader of this Hawks team — limped away.
“He’s better than the most high school players back there still,” said Armwood coach Sean Callahan, who reinserted Bailey at quarterback for good late in the season. “But he’s in a lot of pain.”
Which has only served to reveal his pain threshold.
Whereas the Hawks’ 2011 state title run served as a platform to showcase Bailey’s clutch gene, the 2012 playoffs are showcasing his courage. In Friday’s 9-7 victory at Hillsborough, Bailey amassed 127 total yards despite not being able to make cuts in the second half.
On Monday, he completed his upper-body weight room workout, received moist-heat treatments and slipped a black protective boot back on his right foot. Ideally, Callahan would like to give Bailey about two weeks’ solid rest.
Leading tackler Marcus Jacobs (left ankle sprain), fellow linebacker Jordan Griffin (right forearm injury) and defensive lineman Zeric Coleman (left lower-leg strain) also could use some down time.
But the Hawks’ next playoff assignment is in Gainesville, a few exits shy of Perfect World. Bailey is set to start.
“He’s an athlete,” said Jacobs, a Bailey teammate dating to their flag football days at Jennings Middle School. “From all the years I’ve been playing with him, flag football, he shows a lot of character.”
Just not a lot of cutting. At least not lately. Callahan said Bailey aggravated the injury just before halftime Friday, essentially limiting him to straight-ahead running in the second half.
As a precaution, the Hawks are preparing sophomore Noah Johnson to take a few reps against the state’s top-ranked team (12-0), which Bailey torched for 202 passing yards in a 17-14 playoff win last season. Bailey insists he’ll be ready.
Toe or no toe, his teammates say he can cut it.
“You only get to be a certain number of years with people like that,” Jacobs said. “He’s a big impact.”