Even before the first investigator set a loafer on Armwood High's sidewalk, the Hawks football team's 2012 fortune seemed destined for a downward trajectory.
The knee-jerk hypothesis for a one-year slide from 15-0 to 9-4? The lengthy Florida High School Athletic Association probe that resulted in Armwood forfeiting its 2011 state title and all 15 wins after the FHSAA determined five players falsified residence data.
It's a feeble argument. While the six-month probe tarnished the program's image, the root cause of the Hawks' modest decline can be traced to the 20 seniors from the 2011 team who graduated. They included the top rusher, tackler and the entire offensive line.
Scandal or no, Armwood coaches realized 2012 would include rebuilding, reloading and a bit of regressing. As coach Sean Callahan said in the preseason, if you wanted to beat Armwood, this was your window of opportunity.
Even still, the Hawks overachieved, reaching the regional championship. But there may be more rebuilding in 2013. Longtime defensive coordinator Matt Thompson will be at a different school as the new coach at Jesuit.
Joey Knight can be reached at email@example.com.