SEFFNER — With the formalities out of the way, Armwood will get the rematch it has been waiting for all year.
Behind yet another dominant defensive performance and three touchdowns from quarterback Josh Grady, Armwood moved past Punta Gorda Charlotte 28-12 Friday night to advance to the state semifinals against Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer, the team that ended the Hawks' quest for a state title a season ago.
"There's nothing better than revenge," Grady said. "We're right where we want to be."
Grady finished with 53 rushing yards and 188 through the air, including TDs of 80 yards to Ronnie Thomas and 75 to Kyle Wilcox. But the Hawks (13-0) didn't need to put up big numbers to do away with the Tarpons (12-1) thanks to their shut-down defense.
Charlotte started the game deep in Armwood territory after Alvin Bailey fumbled on the opening kickoff but only managed a field goal. The Tarpons' lone touchdown drive was due largely to the Hawks committing four costly penalties. Charlotte's only other points came from a safety when Armwood snapped the ball over punter Ash Dudney's head.
"If we clean up our game, we can be an even better football team," Armwood coach Sean Callahan said. "We win or lose depending on what we decide we're going to do. If we're not going to be fundamentally sound and commit penalties, we're going to lose the football game. We've got some stuff to clean up."
But it didn't look like the Armwood defense had much to clean up, as the Hawks held highly touted running back Mike Bellamy to just 55 yards on 18 carries. Bellamy, a Clemson commit, added 56 yards receiving but didn't score against an unforgiving Hawks squad that allowed only 206 total yards.
"Playing No. 5 was important for us because we relish the challenge. It's not so much Bellamy; we just love challenges," Callahan said. "I don't think he's seen anybody quite like us before either."
Now Armwood will shift its focus to Dwyer, which won last year's state semifinal 41-15. The Hawks avenged their only other loss in 2009 with a 17-0 shutout of Plant earlier this season.
"Dwyer beat us last year, and they won a state championship. Plant was the other team that beat us last year, and they won a state championship," Callahan said. "It's nice that we're going to get to play Dwyer after beating Plant earlier in the year."