1. Contain Deiondre Porter: If Armwood can do this, it changes everything. But it won’t be easy. Porter is averaging 185 yards passing and 120 yards rushing a game, while accounting for 11 touchdowns. If he gets outside, it’s big trouble. Armwood will have to keep him contained to the pocket, where he is less dangerous and will make more mistakes with his arm than his feet.
2. Armwood’s LBs: If Porter gets free, MLB Jordan Griffin is excellent in pursuit and in coverage so look for the Hawks’ leading tackler to play a pivotal role, along with Curtis Woodard and Justin Manning.
3. Jefferson’s defense: The Dragon defense hasn’t been porous, but it has played just short of stout. Armwood gave up two points combined against Hillsborough and Robinson, while Jefferson surrendered 45. If the Dragons give up 22 to 25 Friday, as they have allowed on average the past two-and-a-half-seasons, it may not be enough to win.
4. Chavez Pownell: The Jefferson defensive back is quietly having one of the best seasons around. His play at slot receiver will be big Friday night. With Jefferson’s Ventell Bryant and Derrick Ingram stretching the field veritcally, and if the experienced offensive line can hold off the vaunted Hawk pass rush, Pownell will be a key in exposing the middle.
5. The intangibles: It’s Armwood. The Hawks have owned — owned! — the Dragons this decade, winning nine straight in the regular season by a whopping 276-66 margin. And the Hawks could have homefield advantage. Oh, we know, the game is at Jefferson, but will Dragon fans surprise us by showing up in bigger numbers than the Hawk faithful?