SEFFNER — Armwood needed a fourth-quarter rally to escape its region quarterfinal last week. Across the bay, Largo took care of business, winning its game by three touchdowns.
Tonight, the Hawks and Packers, two of the best teams from Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, meet in an intriguing Class 4A region semifinal at Largo.
Armwood (10-1) has advanced to the region finals the past six years, including a pair of state championships in 2003 and 2004. Largo (9-2) has had its share of recent success with two straight trips to the 5A state semifinals.
"We've been watching them for the last couple of years, and we knew it was a matter of time until we played them," Armwood coach Sean Callahan said. "That coaching staff over there has been together for a while, so it's not a surprise that we're going to see them at this time of year."
Trailing by two points late in the game last Friday against Sickles, senior running back Rayshied Melvin scored two touchdowns, leading Armwood to a 22-9 win at home.
Callahan said this year's team is his youngest in 15 years, and he expects the Hawks to build on the adversity they faced last week.
"That's when I see the most growth — when you get through an adverse time," he said.
A switch to 4A this season for Largo, led by freshman quarterback Juwan Brown, meant some Hillsborough County teams would be in its playoff path. The Packers handled round one with ease, routing Hillsborough High 24-3 and setting up tonight's matchup between Largo's explosive offense and Armwood's stingy defense.
"It is a tough challenge playing in a new classification and against teams from Hillsborough County," Largo coach Rick Rodriguez said earlier this week. "But it's one that we like."
Hawks junior linebacker DJ Hitchman (knee/hamstring) and senior running back/receiver Sherman Jessie (foot) are questionable, Callahan said. Sophomore running back Matt Jones (Achilles tendon) is expected to play.
Kevin Smetana can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 661-2439.