Armwood and Plant, which once made up the top football rivalry in Tampa Bay, are back on each other’s schedule.
Hawks coach Sean Callahan said the two teams have agreed to play each other in the preseason classic on Aug. 22. The game will be played at Plant’s Dads Stadium.
Last year, Plant played Tallahassee Godby in the preseason classic. The Panthers needed a game, and Armwood was able to get out of its two-year contract with Cross City.
“I said, ‘Robert, we need to play.’ You’re not going to find a better game,” Callahan said.
Armwood was 14-1 last season, its only loss coming in the Class 5A state championship game. Plant (11-2-1) lost in the region final to Apopka.
Armwood’s move to a nine-team district last year ended up bumping Plant off its schedule for the first time since 2000.
Their matchups, especially in the latter half of the decade, were often standing-room affairs, and a few were televised by ESPN.
The teams have combined for seven state championships.
“It just makes sense to play,” Callahan said.
While the game won’t count on either team’s official record because it’s a preseason game, Callahan said his Hawks will play it like a regular-season game, at least for one half and two series in the third quarter.
Then, both teams have agreed to bring in 22 new players, a combination of backups and junior varsity players, to finish it off.
Armwood Terriers? Hillsborough Hawks?
Callahan had to outfit some of his bigger-headed Armwood linemen with extra-large Hillsborough High helmets — on loan from Terriers coach Earl Garcia — for spring practices.
Callahan said when he sent his helmets in to be refurbished after last season, a handful of XLs did not come back. He said he told the county, but apparently none were ordered and won’t be until after spring.
As a result, a few of the lineman will be wearing the Hillsborough’s red helmets — minus any decals or letter Hs, mind you — the rest of this month and in the spring jamboree.
“I called Earl and asked if he had a few extras and he did, so that was good,” Callahan said Thursday, the first official day of practice for most schools around the state.
Grateful for the save from a fellow coach, Callahan couldn’t help but chuckle as tackle Evan Montreuil, working out at center this spring and wearing one of the Hillsborough helmets, snapped the ball to his blue-helmeted quarterback Noah Johnson.
Former Armwood quarterback Josh Grady, now at Vanderbilt but home and checking in at his alma mater, smiled and shook his head.
“It just don’t look right, man,” he said.
Photo: Armwood's Evan Montreuil may have the helmet of a Terrier, but he's all Hawk at heart.