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4A football: Armwood 49, Largo 3

Matt Jones, center, was part of an Armwood ground game that gave the Packers fits.

Special to the Times | Alvaro Fonseca

Matt Jones, center, was part of an Armwood ground game that gave the Packers fits.

LARGO — Armwood's approach on offense was a rather quaint reversion to the days before sock 'em gave way to slick 'em.

The Hawks used a solid wall of linemen to pound defenders into submission, with a quartet of running backs banging away behind them. It was a brutal concept, but it produced big results in a 49-3 victory over Largo in the Class 4A region semifinals.

"We were playing a good football team and we wanted to be physical up front," Hawks coach Sean Callahan said. "We wanted to use the run to set up the pass."

Armwood, which lived and died by the spread attack this season, switched gears, lining up in the I-formation or sometimes with three running backs in the backfield, and remained securely grounded as it pounded out 237 yards rushing.

The emphasis on the run was due in large part to having a healthier backfield. Top rusher Matt Jones (calf) and senior Sherman Jessie (ankle) were near full speed after sitting out most of last week.

The Hawks' keep-it-simple approach paid dividends on their first possession of the game, using their meat-grinder attack to march down the field on a drive capped off by a 7-yard run by Rayshied Melvin to go up 7-0.

Armwood continued to poke and prod for weaknesses and exploited the Packers' run defense with bursts up the middle. Those guileless runs helped set up the Hawks' second touchdown, a 13-yard pass from Josh Grady to Vaughn Cross.

Ahead 14-0, Armwood added another score on a 38-yard punt return by A.J. King. Largo countered with a 22-yard field goal by Morgan Sever to make it 21-3 at the half. In the third quarter, Grady scrambled 4 yards for a touchdown, then threw a 7-yard pass to Jessie for another touchdown to put the Hawks ahead 35-3 and the game out of reach.

From there, Armwood's defensive front went to work, harassing Largo quarterback Juwan Brown the rest of the night.

"Largo's coach said he wanted to play us for three of four years," Hawks defensive lineman Theodore "Man-Man" Jackson said. "He probably wishes he didn't play us now."

Armwood rounded out the scoring on a 18-yard run by Tanner Emmons and a 36-yard fumble return by Jessie. The Packers were a depleted bunch and were missing one of their best players, Myrick Gwyn, a receiver/defensive back who was suspended for the game for missing practice.

Late in the fourth quarter, Largo mounted a late drive but it was stopped on the 2-yard line as time expired. The Packers managed just 118 total yards.

"We didn't play our best game," Packers coach Rick Rodriguez said. "We were beat up front, in the trenches, where I thought we could play well. Still, it was a great year and were able to overcome a lot of issues."



4A football: Armwood 49, Largo 3 11/28/09 [Last modified: Saturday, November 28, 2009 12:40am]
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