Editor's note: A version of this story was published elsewhere in the Times.
With the audience inside Armwood's auditorium on its feet, Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio grabbed a football, gripped it and fired away, delivering a perfect strike to Hawks standout Kalvin Bailey.
"We kind of coached her up," Armwood coach Sean Callahan said. "But she did great."
Iorio was the main attraction at Armwood on Monday, but not because of her arm. She was there, along with a few other local leaders, like school superintendent Earl Lennard, to honor Callahan's squad for winning back-to-back state titles, something no Hillsborough County team had done.
Before a crowd that included faculty and several hundred students, Iorio proclaimed Jan. 10, 2005, as "Armwood Hawks Day" and presented the team with a plaque to commemorate its achievements.
"I'm here," the mayor told the Hawks, "because I'm proud of you." Winning one title was impressive enough, she added, but "to turn around and do it again is just unbelievable."
She later chatted with the players.
"It's unbelievable," Armwood defensive lineman Ryan Sollazzo said. "Jan. 10 is Hawks Day from now until forever."
The mayor autographed a football for Callahan, who seemed to be as excited as anyone about her visit.
"This is pretty special," Callahan said. "This is awfully big of Ms. Iorio. Our mailing address is Seffner, but we've always considered ourselves the team from Tampa."