WHO: Armwood (4-0, 1-0) at Jefferson (1-2, 0-0)
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday;
WHERE: Sam Horton Field, Tampa
The winner of tonight's game assumes the pole position in the Class 6A-8 race. In a district featuring two state championship programs, Armwood and Jefferson, along with playoff teams Hillsborough and Sickles, wins are at a premium. Jefferson hasn't defeated Armwood in 10 years. In 2001, the Dragons shutout the Hawks, 63-0, a game Armwood coach Sean Callahan cites as a turning point for his program.
Armwood: The Hawks have held opponents scoreless in 47 percent of their games since 2006. Armwood's defense hasn't allowed any points in 12 consecutive quarters this season.
Jefferson: The Dragons are averaging nearly 16 yards per pass completion, and for a team that likes to move the ball through the air, that's a first down every catch. Though he's only a sophomore, QB Deiondre Porter is completing 53 percent of his pass attempts.
KEEP AN EYE ON
Armwood: Middle linebacker Keionne Baines. This senior leads an extremely talented Hawks defense and Hillsborough County in tackles with 52, including a season-high 18 in Armwood's victory against Tampa Bay Tech. In last week's 68-0 victory against Leto, Baines showed off his return skills with a 30-yard punt return for a touchdown.
Jefferson: Running back Shaquille Speights. The junior can be powerful and show finesse when required, and so far he has rushed 43 times for 192 yards with a touchdown this season. He is also a threat in the passing game with five catches for 86 yards and a touchdown. Expect Speights and Baines to meet quite often on the field.
When Armwood has the ball: Starting quarterback Darryl Richardson (knee injury) has been medically cleared to return, but whether he plays is uncertain. Alvin Bailey has been starting in Richardson's place and has thrown five touchdown passes. He's received help from a strong running game, which is bolstered by a strong offensive line and is led by Matt Jones and Wade Edwards. Jones returned last week after missing the first three games with a knee injury and rushed for three touchdowns in nearly a half. Jefferson's defensive line, led by Tyriq McCord, will have the massive task of containing Jones.
When Jefferson has the ball: Senior receivers Jawaun Coffee and Adrian Jenkins against Armwood junior defensive back Leon McQuay, on either side of the ball, will serve as one of the best matchups of the season. Coffee and Jenkins are Jefferson's top receivers with 172 and 165 receiving yards, respectively, and both possess explosive speed to rack up yards after the catch.
"We're excited about playing Jefferson. Jefferson's a state championship team and we're really looking forward to it. I know they had a rough game against St. Edward, but they're skill kids are all over the field and we want to match up with them and see where we're at.'' - Armwood head coach Sean Callahan
"We're not satisfied with our record and what's going on so far, and as much as everyone else is counting us out, that's just driving us more. I really think we've got a chance to do some things and have success." - Jefferson head coach Jeremy Earle.