SEFFNER — Before the 2013 season, Armwood head coach Sean Callahan expected this year’s group to be the team competing for a state title. But to much surprise, Armwood reached the Class 6A championship game last season.
Unfortunately for the rest of Class 6A, the Hawks return nearly all of their major players.
“We return so many, we fully intend on playing in Orlando,” Callahan said.
Armwood won Hillsborough County’s most competitive district in 2013 and enters this season ranked No. 25 in MaxPreps’ preseason national poll.
Noah Johnson returns at quarterback after having a breakout junior year in which he led Armwood’s offense with 2,789 total yards and 32 touchdowns. Johnson threw for 1,980 yards with 18 touchdowns, but was also the team’s leading rusher with 809 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Senior Sterling Hofrichter, the top-rated kicker in the state, led the Hawks in scoring last season with 98 points and sent 80 percent of his kickoffs into the end zone. He has verbally committed to Syracuse.
As usual, Armwood will possess one of the best defenses in Florida, headlined by senior defensive end Byron Cowart, a consensus five-star recruit and who totaled 13 sacks last season along with 10 quarterback hurries.
“Last year we were so focused on just getting to state, we got there and couldn’t finish,” Cowart said. “Now, it’s about getting past that and winning state.”
Senior linebacker Jordan Griffin, whose 150 tackles led the team last season, is regarded as one of the top at his position in the state.
Leading the secondary will be senior Aaron Covington, another Division I recruit, who had four interceptions last season.
“The expectation is to get back to the state championship, but this time win it,” Griffin said. “We’re not looking for anything less this year. We’re pretty much returning a lot of people this year and we’re looking to get back there. Everyone is expecting us to get back there, but we’re taking it one game at a time.”
Friday at Plant
Friday, Aug. 29, against Durant