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Cotey: Armwood Hawks can play some baseball, too

SEFFNER — Armwood is heading to the state semifinals in baseball for the first time.

That's right.

I said baseball.

Little white ball. Bats. Kids in knickered pants and baseball caps.

Yes, they do play it at Armwood, and they play it as well as any team in Hawk blue ever has.

Though make no mistake, and this was evident even Friday night as the Hawks disposed of Hagerty in two games, Armwood remains a football school.

For now.

"Maybe next year,'' joked Stacy Wrenn, the wife of Hawks coach Mike, as just beyond the leftfield fence the footballers came trotting out for their Blue and White spring game.

Strange time to hold it, on what was arguably the biggest night in Armwood baseball history, just a few Man-Man Jackson pass rushes away from where the Hawks were trying to make a little history.

Not that anyone was complaining.

"It is Armwood football,'' Wrenn said, fully smiling, everyone nearby laughing with her.

You'll have to excuse Armwood designated hitter Tanner Emmons, who was once the designated quarterback for the Hawks and might have been sneaking a few peaks through the leftfield fence in Game 2.

The junior varsity starter under center last year, Emmons might have been playing in that football game, had the Hawks not staged this improbable baseball playoff run.

That's right.


"I've been trying to stay in touch with the football team as much as I can,'' said Emmons, a 5-10, 155-pound freshman.

But he wouldn't dare trade this moment, like that bunt single and the run he scored in the Hawks breakout inning in Game 1 Friday, for that.

Still, it's hard not to fret a little.

Josh Grady is over there, slinging passes, getting comfortable.

He came to take your job. Well, maybe not your job, but the job, which might be yours. And you can't even fight him for it.

Now, Emmons is likely to miss just about every last bit of spring football because of baseball.

Armwood baseball!

"It's going to make it hard,'' he said.

A varsity veteran who some feel is one of the best quarterbacks in Tampa Bay, Grady transferred to Armwood a few months back. Many see him as the heir apparent to Mywan Jackson, last year's starter who is on his way to North Carolina on scholarship, and coach Sean Callahan has already decalred he is the frontrunner.

Emmons wasn't thrilled to hear that news, or the news when it was announced that Grady was coming.

He has, however, accepted it. Embraced it even.

"You only get better with better competition,'' he said, adding that he's not conceding anything.

He threw for 12 touchdowns last season, and ran for six more. His varsity team was 6-0. He even started a varsity game, when Jackson was suspended.

Against Freedom and Josh Grady, ironically.

Emmons won that one.

But can he win this one?

"Right now he's got a head start,'' the soon-to-be sophomore said. "That does give him the upper hand.''

Emmons, a rarity these days pulling the baseball-football double, has all summer to make up time lost. He will spend much of it in the weight room. He has a lot to prove, and even if he doesn't start at quarterback, he is good enough to help somewhere.

But football, it will — gasp! — have to wait. Armwood baseball — baseball! — made it a step further than last year's mighty Hawks, getting past the region final.

There's a state championship to win.

"Sure, I'd like to be out there playing football,'' Emmons said. "But I wouldn't trade it for this."

Cotey: Armwood Hawks can play some baseball, too 05/15/09 [Last modified: Friday, May 15, 2009 11:57pm]
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