Thursday, June 21, 2018
Sports

Column: Armwood lays out same old hits on Jefferson

TAMPA — Sean Callahan could sympathize with Jefferson on Friday night.

With a few seconds left on the clock, his own guy, man-child lineman Byron Cowart, clobbered him in the back of the head with a Gatorade bucket, which by the way, looked like a paper cup in the junior's hands.

Cowart didn't mean to doink his coach, of course. He was just trying to pull off the grand tradition of dousing his coach with ice water after a big victory, but the big fella was the bull, and the back of Callahan's head was the china shop.

"You hit me," Callahan said, incredulously.

It's the exact same look the Dragons had on their faces as they walked off the field, on the short end of another Hawks beatdown, this time 28-9.

You hit me.

•••

For those counting at home, Armwood always hits Jefferson.

The past 11 times they have played, Armwood has hit Jefferson, with pretty much every punch in its arsenal.

"They beat us 63-0 in 2001, and afterwards (the coaches) all got together and we said, 'We can't let this ever happen again,' " Callahan said.

Can't, and apparently won't.

It's an amazing streak, when you consider the Dragons are always pretty good.

They didn't get to play Armwood in 2010, the year they won the state championship, and I'm beginning to wonder if that wasn't rather fortunate for Jefferson, which went undefeated that season.

•••

Friday night, the Dragons simply imploded when things got tough.

Before they did, though, the Dragons led 9-0, defensive back Chavez Pownell was having the game of his life, and quarterback Deiondre Porter was playing marvelously, and if his receivers had come down with a few catchable balls in the end zone, the lead could have been much bigger.

But it wasn't. And if 21-0 wasn't enough last year, well, 9-0 wasn't going to last very long. In fact, it was gone in 60 seconds.

Noah Johnson whipped the Hawks downfield in six plays, hitting Talvin Bailey for a touchdown with 48 seconds left in the first half, and everything changed.

Jefferson never got a chance to regroup. Halftime couldn't save them because Bailey returned the second-half kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown, jogging upfield behind his wedge, patiently waiting for Cowart and Craig Carrington to hit someone.

Another Bailey boy taking one to the house at Dr. Sam Horton Stadium, just like Alvin did in 2011. Not much changes in this series, does it?

"Man, that wedge," said Cowart. "We got me and Craig in the middle, Greg Newton and Austin Gallon and Kyle Gibson on the outside, you just have to take that wedge to the promised land. Just run behind us. They can cut us, but who is going to put us on our back?"

•••

The Hawks led 14-9, it could have been 140-9.

The Dragons went backward in the second half, pushed in that direction by Cowart and Hyriam Frederick and Jordan Griffin. Porter was ineffective, big plays were wiped out by penalties, punts went straight up into the air, and the flags started to fly.

To start the fourth, a handful of Jefferson players feebly held up four fingers, but their heads were hanging in the opposite direction.

For Armwood, Friday's impressive victory capped a run of three games in 12 days against Hillsborough, Robinson and Jefferson. The Hawks allowed one touchdown in those games.

The offense is still a work in progress. The defense looks like it's ready for Orlando.

With 9:30 left, the Jefferson fans headed for the exits. The line was soon thick like a concert.

"We'll see them again y'all," one screamed at the Dragons, hoping for a playoff rematch.

I'm not sure why.

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