SEFFNER — Brian Snead does not have fond memories of Camping World Stadium in Orlando. Armwood High's senior running back played in a grand total of two plays as a freshman in the 2014 Class 6A state final, a 24-10 loss to Miami Central.
He was limited to only eight carries and 21 yards before getting injured in a 48-13 loss to Central in 2015.
He enters this year's Class 6A final against Miami Northwestern as healthy as he has ever been for a title game. Snead is hoping the third time is the charm. It had better be, since this is the last time he and his fellow seniors will wear an Armwood uniform.
"This is my first year really playing in (a state championship)," said Snead, an Ohio State commit. "I'm excited as I can be."
And for good reason. He is finishing off his best season. He's carried the ball 198 times, more than double any other rusher. He has gained 1,329 yards and scored 16 rushing touchdowns.
Snead is also third on the team in receiving with 24 catches for 211 yards and three touchdowns. That versatility was on display in the state semifinal against St. Augustine. He carried 20 times, gained 118 yards and caught a touchdown pass in a 30-6 win.
He is certainly not the only offensive weapon for the Hawks. Senior slot back Jerome Ford has 800 yards receiving and eight touchdowns. Senior receiver Warren Thompson has six touchdown catches, as does junior Ezeriah Anderson.
And senior quarterback Devin Black is a dual threat. But it's Snead who sets the pace for the offense. Black is certainly happy to have him nearby.
"Just to have that weapon behind me puts me at ease," Black said. "If I get under pressure, I can just dump it off to him."
While Snead admits his four years at Armwood have flown by, he does see himself as a much different player than when he entered the school. He played sparingly as a freshman (34 carries, 195 yards) and said he wasn't quite all in on football.
"I was playing around a lot," Snead said. "But by the end of my sophomore year I started taking things more seriously. I started really knowing the meaning of Armwood, about what it takes to go to states. And what it means to be a better person."
Snead and Darrian McNeal became the dual threats in the back field in 2015. Snead gained 1,227 yards, just behind McNeal for the team lead.
He's having his best season yet. And he realizes that as a senior he has to set an example.
"I've got to be that guy," said Snead, who has 3,652 career rushing yards. "If I'm down, then everybody else is down. When I'm up, then everybody is up. When it's time to play around then I'll play, but when it's time to get serious, then I'll get serious."
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That means Friday nights. Snead and his teammates will be at their most serious by 8 p.m. when the state championship game kicks off. The Hawks are trying to win their first state title since 2004 (their 2011 title was eventually vacated due to the use of ineligible players).
First-year head coach Evan Davis knows Snead will play a key role in the championship, but he can't be the only weapon.
"Brian Snead touched the ball a lot in the regular season," Davis said. "But to win a state title everybody has to contribute. That's how a state title team has to execute."
If Armwood wins it all, don't be surprised to see Snead lead the celebration.
"Off the field Brian Snead is like a kid," Black said. "He's a cool cat. We hang out a lot. It doesn't matter where he's at, he's always a good time."