PLANT CITY — In a Class 7A, east county matchup with Plant City, Armwood quarterback Cam’Ron Ransom gave his opponent an early advantage, throwing an interception on the Hawks’ opening drive.
The Raiders, though, couldn’t capitalize on that chance — or any other, for that matter.
On its first two drives, Plant City made it deep into Armwood territory, only to come up short when it mattered. The Hawks, on the other hand, made few mistakes the rest of the way, cruising to an easy 35-0 victory.
“We’re going to have turnovers. But we knew we moved the ball there. We knew it was something we could control,” coach Evan Davis said of the early mistake. “We knew our defense was going to play great and we could fix it.”
And that was perhaps the understatement of the night.
On their first drive of the game, the Raiders looked as if they’d be a threat to the one-loss Hawks. Plant City quarterback Makenzie Kennedy took off for a couple long runs, and twice he connected with junior wide receiver Reagan Ealy, a favorite target throughout the night.
But as the Raiders (2-5) neared the red zone, the Armwood (5-1) defense stepped up, forcing a turnover on downs. The next time Plant City had the ball, the Raiders made it to the 25-yard line, only to have the field-goal attempt blocked by cornerback De’Kwan Hughes.
Armwood scored on all three drives in the first half after the interception, scoring first on a 1-yard touchdown run from Eric Wilson, then on a 14-yard run from Charles Montgomery and a 27-yard pass from Ransom to Agiye Hall.
Hall, a five-star recruit, scored again in the second half on a 14-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Hunter Helton.
The Hawks flexed their offensive muscle, using two quarterbacks and getting touchdowns from four players.
"The whole outside world wants to believe that, right? There's no way Agiye Hall can have three or four targets in a game and be happy," Davis said about the way the Hawks spread the ball around. "This kid's walking around with a smile on his face. It just means when the ball comes to them ... you've got to make plays."
Armwood’s defense only got better in the second half. Plant City had fewer than 20 yards of offense after the break and just two first downs. Plant City forced two Armwood punts in the second half, but the Hawks picked off Kennedy twice, one of which was returned by Jalil Core for the fifth and final touchdown of the night.
According to Hall, Friday was just an early glimpse of what his team’s going to look like in the postseason.
“We always have to see ourselves there. That’s the top of the hill,” Hall said. “We’re halfway up there, we just have to get all the way up there and strive for greatness.”