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Around the county in 30 days
A daily spring preview of every football program in Hillsborough County.
Coach: Sean Callahan (21st season, 168-70)
Last season: 12-2 (lost to Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer 41-15 in Class 4A state semifinals)
District: Class 4A, District 9
Key losses: DL Alton Bailey, LB Coty Creech, DL Theodore “Man-Man” Jackson, RB/WR Sherman Jessie, WR Richard Jules, DB Khiry McQuay, RB/FB Rayshied Melvin, OL Dutch Sweet, OL Fletcher Williams
Who’s back: K/P Ash Dudney, QB Josh Grady, LB D.J. Hitchman, RB Matt Jones, WR A.J. King, LB Jermaine “Juice” McKinney, LB Eric Striker, OL Cody Waldrop, LB Jacob Zilbar
What’s new: The offense, sort of. After two years of spread-type looks, the Hawks will operate out of the power-I more frequently to help showcase Jones (6-foot-2, 216 pounds), a rising junior who looks like he could line up for USF today. With Grady (1,553 passing yards, 18 TDs, five INTs in ’09) lining up behind center more often, the Hawks could flourish in play-action. Up front, the Hawks appear solid despite Williams’ graduation and Sweet’s move to Hillsborough. Helping with the revamped look is new coordinator Evan Davis, who stepped in when predecessor Chris Taylor was let go after 14 seasons. Defensively, watch Armwood fluctuate between three- and four-man fronts, and boast arguably the county’s top set of linebackers, led by McKinney (119 tackles, 13 sacks). The secondary needs some minor retooling, but Callahan is really high on underclassmen Vontae Smith and Jarvis McCall. Look for 220-pound rising junior Shelldon Lewinson to step in at nose tackle for Bailey.
Audible: “Our big thing is, we’re gonna be a physical running team that throws at will. That’s a big thing to say, but we legitimately believe we’re that kind of team.” — Callahan
Did you know? Davis, whom Callahan said has been embraced by the players, was the backup quarterback on Armwood’s 2003 and ’04 state title teams. …Count Callahan among those pleased to hear Robinson and Jefferson generating a lot of springtime buzz. “You get tired of hearing Plant-Armwood all the time,” he said. “I’m human, too.”
Spring game: One half vs. Plant City (at Durant), May 21, 6:30 p.m.
Sept. 3 vs. Newsome
Sept. 16 at Tampa Bay Tech
Sept. 24 vs. Wharton
Oct. 1 at Plant
Oct. 8 at King
Oct. 15 vs. Chamberlain
Oct. 22 at Hillsborough
Oct. 29 vs. Gaither
Nov. 5 vs. East Bay
Nov. 12 at Alonso