As this week's nationally televised game between Armwood and Plant draws near, the Times takes a closer look at the matchups.
Plant quarterback Aaron Murray, above, a Georgia commit who is arguably the top high school quarterback in the nation, will be the first to say Armwood's swarming defense rattled him last season. But with a full season under his belt, the senior is eager to show he has learned from two losses last season in his first year as a starter.
The Panthers' quick-strike offense relies on the pass, and Murray has plenty of weapons. Tight end Orson Charles, who has receiver speed and caught three touchdowns from Murray in last week's preseason win, and receivers Allen Sampson and Nathan Marvel are difficult to keep up with. The play of Plant's slot receivers will be key in spreading the field for Murray, as will the play of the offensive line.
Yes, Armwood has a great group of linebackers. Yes, the Hawks possess a fantastic secondary. But with this group, everything starts up front. And that's where Armwood really shines. Defensive end Ryne Giddins, above sacking Robert Marve two years ago, has a tremendous first step, and arguably is the state's premier pass rusher (he had four sacks in two games against Plant last fall).
Even if Giddins is neutralized (and that's a big if), Plant must deal with three other impressive linemen. At linebacker, seniors Petey Smith and Casey Callahan are sure-handed tacklers who have all-state potential. Safety Angelo Hadley, an elite recruit, leads a talented and opportunistic secondary capable of making the Panthers pay for any wayward passes forced by the guys up front.
Eduardo A. Encina, Times staff writer