PLANT CITY — Forget jitters. Armwood was in far more supply of early-season hitters Friday night at the Ron Frost Athletic Complex.
Brandishing a power-driven run game that evoked images of the old Hawks triple-option — minus the triple and the option — the Hawks (1-0) amassed 255 rushing yards in a 48-6 rout of Durant on a muggy opening night.
From burly fullback Craig Carrington (14 carries, 93 yards) to backup tailback Alfonso Thornton (59-yard TD run), this was a Hawks statement. Even the clock was running at will by game’s end.
“It was probably one of our most physical games we’ve ever played,” Hawks coach Sean Callahan said. “We wanted to be able to run the ball against a team that is big and physical like Durant.”
Playing in his first game since 2011, Carrington — among the handful of Hawks suspended for all of 2012 amid the FHSAA probe of Armwood’s program — set the tone on Armwood’s opening possession.
Breaking through on a run up the gut, the 5-foot-11, 227-pound senior flattened a Durant defensive back en route to an 18-yard gain, and scored from 2 yards the next play.
Classmate Greg Newton (nine carries, 70 yards) similarly floored a secondary player to complete a 10-yard TD run up the middle to give the Hawks a 14-0 lead.
“There’s no greater feeling,” said Carrington, who insists he missed only one practice all of last season.
“I was just ready. I was in the weight room hard (last year) and I was working hard at home so I could come back 100 percent. I just trusted in my (offensive line), that was a big thing. I built a relationship with them.”
Yet for all its success, the run game was but one component of one complete Armwood performance.
The Hawks scored two defensive touchdowns — a 25-yard Kyle Gibson interception return and 10-yard Jordan Griffin fumble return — in a 53-second span in the third quarter to take a 34-0 lead.
And new kicker Sterling Hofrichter nearly stole everyone’s thunder, booting six touchbacks and converting field goals of 31 and 46 yards. The longer conversion, on the last play of the first half, followed consecutive timeouts called by Durant.
“If we can get our special teams and offense and defense all clicking, we’re going to be pretty tough,” Callahan said.