As this week's nationally televised game between Armwood and Plant draws near, the Times takes a closer look at the matchups.
Why has Armwood's offense been so effective in recent seasons? Because the Hawks have had the perfect mix: A strong, technically sound offensive line and skill players who can go the distance every time they touch the ball. That hasn't changed in 2008. Up front, tackle Justin Cabbagestalk, a Vanderbilt commit, and center Dillard Hurley anchor a talented, physical group that had little problem getting a push, opening holes and protecting the quarterback last week, and in the spring. At quarterback, senior Mywan Jackson gives the Hawks, who are traditionally strong on the ground, great balance. An underrated talent, Jackson plays smart and has the tools to create problems for opposing defenses. Jackson has several quality receivers, starting with Rob Jones, an elusive and sure-handed senior. When they run, Sherman Jessie often is the team's top option.
The Panthers return just three starters on defense, but have a skilled group of players throughout. They will have to be on their toes but remain disciplined against an Armwood offense that can cause fits. Senior co-captain safety Hunter Baldwin is a ball-hawking hard hitter who anchors a secondary that will be tested more often than last season. Six-foot, 260-pound tackle Austin Clark leads a defensive line that has yet to prove itself. Tight end Orson Charles could also see some time on the defensive line at end. Keep an eye on junior linebacker Mike Mirabella, who will be the eyes and ears of the front seven against an Armwood offense that will try to spread the ball out more often than in past seasons.
Keith Niebuhr and Eduardo A. Encina, Times staff writers