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Memory provides motivation

Armwood has flat out spanked Jefferson the last two meetings: 24-0 and 35-14.

Those beatings, however, are not what Armwood running back Kalvin Bailey remembers.

He remembers when he got spanked: 63-0.

He was a freshman in his first varsity game and he had traveled with the team to Jefferson for what was supposed to be the county's game of the week. In Bailey's words, however, it was "the worst game ever."

"I remember the look on those seniors' faces after that whipping," Bailey said. "I remember looking at them and feeling terrible.

"I remember it, honestly, as much as any other game, and that includes last year's state championship game (won by Armwood 29-21 over Lake Gibson). That says a lot, doesn't it?"

Look out Jefferson.

This is coming from now-senior Bailey, who has bulked up to 240 pounds, runs a 4.6-second 40-yard dash, bench presses a team-record 400 pounds, rushed for 1,733 yards last season, and, in the first week this season, gained 243 yards and six touchdowns on just 17 carries (14.3 yards average).

If that's not troubling enough, Bailey is running alongside Demetrius McCray, who gained more than 1,400 yards last season while averaging more than 10 yards a carry. Last week in about a half of work in a 53-0 victory over Blake, McCray carried seven times for 88 yards (12.6 yards a carry).

For Jefferson, the only upside might be that Hawks quarterback Jameel Williams was sidelined against Blake with a sprained ankle and is not scheduled to play.

"Yes, this is a big game," Armwood coach Sean Callahan said. "But it's not a district game and it's not worth risking an injury to him at this point in the season. There is no doubt that he will heal and get 100 percent better and that's what we're focusing on.

"No, we're not worrying about keeping our winning streak alive (at 17 games) or anything like that. What we're doing is looking at the big picture."

The big picture, of course, involves shooting for back-to-back state championships.

So for tonight that means backup sophomore quarterback Justin Hickman will get his first regular-season start. Hickman says he feels confident, even if that start is against 2-1 Jefferson, which is predicted by many to make a run at the Class 3A title.

"I've gotten a lot of reps the past year in practice and I know the system," Hickman said. "I also feel like I played well in the spring jamboree and at the preseason classic, and those experiences have helped."

As Bailey said, "Justin is going to be fine because we're going to make sure we do our jobs. I can guarantee that there is no way we're going to let (63-0) happen again. No way.

"These seniors won't allow it."