TBO Prep Sports Armwood
Armwood, Plant Will Meet Again In Region Final
Adam Adkins, Katherine Smith, Nick WilliamsThe road to Orlando and the Class 4A state championship game again goes through Armwood and Plant.
Published: November 30, 2008
Published: November 30, 2008
The Panthers (11-1) host the Hawks (12-0) at Dad's Stadium on Friday night in a region final, the third consecutive year the teams have met at this stage of the playoffs. The winner advances to the state semifinals to play either Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer or Miami Booker T. Washington.
It's the fourth year in a row that Armwood and Plant have been pitted against each other in the postseason. Armwood is 2-1 in those games.
"We're excited about it. We knew we were going to be playing Plant, and we knew we were going to be playing them there," Armwood coach Sean Callahan said. "We're not surprised at all."
YearRoundScore 2005Region semifinalArmwood 24, Plant 6 Hawks tailback Eric Smith rushed for two TDs and 151 yards.2006Region finalPlant 38, Armwood 20Panthers safety Chris Kuzdale returned two of Hawks' six turnovers for TDs2007Region finalArmwood 36, Plant 7Plant turned ball over six times, and Hawks converted them into 17 points. CHIEFS HAVE WAITED FOR DREADNAUGHTS
A few weeks ago, the Chamberlain players gathered to watch Lakeland play on Bright House Sports Network's "Game of the Week."
"We weren't surprised with what they had," Chamberlain senior receiver Anthony Williams said.
The Chiefs will see the real thing when they travel to play the undefeated Dreadnaughts on Friday at 7:30 in the 5A-Region 2 final.
Chamberlain and Lakeland have met in the postseason three times this decade. In 2005, Lakeland, coming off its 2004 title, defeated Chamberlain 49-0, in the region semifinals. In 2004, Lakeland won 35-24 in the quarterfinals, its closest game of the state playoffs. In 2002, Lakeland defeated Chamberlain in the region semis, 29-14. The Dreadnaughts were eliminated in the next round by Wharton, which lost in the state championship to Pompano Beach Ely.
"We just know we have to come out with our 'A' game and we'll be all right," Williams said.
It was the longest two minutes and 41 seconds of Armwood's season.
When Tampa Bay Tech's Antonio Wallace scored on a 7-yard touchdown run with 2:36 remaining in the first quarter of Friday's Class 4A regional semifinal against the Hawks, it marked the first time Arwmood had trailed all season.
The Titans' lead stood through the end of the quarter after Armwood was forced to punt on its ensuing possession, but the Hawks defense didn't take long after that to fix the unfamiliar scoreboard sight.
On the first play of the second quarter, defensive lineman Theodore Jackson forced a fumble with a sack of Titans quarterback Angel Rodriguez, and fellow lineman Ryne Giddins scooped up the loose ball at the 7 and returned it for a touchdown to tie the score at 6 at the 11:55 mark.
It didn't take long after that for the Hawks to get back to where they were used to being - out in front. Two minutes and 40 seconds after Giddins' score, which was the first of his career and the first of two defensive touchdowns on the night for the senior standout, defensive back Quinton Brown scooped up a Rodriguez fumble and returned in 10 yards for a touchdown, putting Armwood ahead for good.
UNFAMILIAR POSITION, PT. 2
Plant also found itself playing from behind in its region semifinal game against Brandenton Southeast. Trailing 7-3, the Panthers finally put the ball in the end zone in the fourth quarter when senior tailback Marco Cobb rushed 10 yards for a touchdown. Plant prevailed 13-7.
You have to go back four years for the last time the Panthers won a game without throwing for a touchdown. It was Robert Weiner's first year as head coach and Robert Marve's sophomore season.
For a team known for its air assault, the Panthers have been mixing it up lately with a balance of passing and a strong ground game. Cobb rushed for 56 yards and also had 20 receiving yards in Friday night's victory, while senior fullback Chris Hesson pounded out some critical yards and first downs in the second half to help Plant control the clock.
PLENTY TO BE PROUD ABOUT
Tampa Bay Tech wasn't able to get redemption Friday against Armwood, but the Titans can still take solace knowing they finished as the best team in the program's history.
The Titans set a program record for wins in a season with 10, surpassing the previous mark of nine by the 1990 squad that finished 9-2 under Coach Joe Severino. This year's squad also was the first in program history to win a state playoff game. Both of the Titans' (10-2) losses this season were against the nationally-ranked Hawks.
The program's quick turnaround under second-year coach C.C. Culpepper, who inherited a team coming off consecutive winless seasons and produced a 6-4 mark in 2007, should go a long way toward changing the mindset of how people view Tampa Bay Tech's football team.
"This was big for us," Culpepper said. "Who would have thought that in two years Tech would have been in the second round of the playoffs playing football?"
This season will also be memorable for Wharton, which won the program's first district title since 2005. The Wildcats started the season 0-2 and won nine consecutive games to reach the region semifinals. Although their bus was nearly an hour late on Friday against Chamberlain, the Wildcats kept it close in the first half until the Chiefs pulled away, 42-21.
On Nov. 8, longtime defensive coordinator Earl Goodman died, and the players dedicated its win against Alonso in the region quarterfinals to him.
FRIDAY'S PLAYOFF GAMES
All games at 7:30 p.m.
Class 5A region final
Chamberlain (11-1) at Lakeland (12-0)
Punta Gorda Charlotte (11-1) at Largo (11-1)
Class 4A region final
Armwood (12-0) at Plant (11-1)
Class 3A region final
Citra North Marion (9-3) at Pasco (11-1)
Class 2A state semifinal
Miami Gulliver Prep (10-1) at Tampa Catholic (9-3)