Armwood coach Sean Callahan said he almost can’t believe it has been 10 years since the Hawks’ first state title. Friday, 18 players and four coaches from the 2003 state championship team returned to the Armwood sideline to be recognized at halftime.
The 2003 Hawks won the Class 4A state championship, beating Lakeland Lake Gibson 29-21 for Armwood’s first state crown. The Hawks returned in 2004 to win the state title over Lake Gibson again.
“It was really kind of cool to have them here,” Callahan said. “I can’t believe it’s been 10 years and for so many of them to come out, we just look forward to those guys coming back here.”
The Thanksgiving holiday had a number of other Armwood alums in attendance, including recent grads Eric Striker (now a sophomore at the University of Oklahoma) and Matt Jones (a sophomore at Florida) — a bright spot for Callahan.
Armwood (13-0) didn’t disappoint its alumni as the Hawks advanced to the Class 6A state final four by topping Springstead, 41-0. Hawks quarterback Noah Johnson, who had four touchdowns (one rushing, three passing) in the win, said having the 2003 team return made an impression on his teammates as they look to add to the school’s tradition.
“It’s always great to have those guys come back and cheer us on,” Johnson said. “We know what they did and their legacy will live on here.”
Callahan said Saturday senior wide receiver Talvin Bailey “will be fine” after having to leave Friday’s win in the fourth quarter. Callahan called the injury a slight hyperextension to Bailey’s right knee.
Gryphons can look to the future
Friday’s 19-14 loss to Kissimmee Osceola was tough to swallow for many Sickles players, especially the seniors.
But for those that will return, there’s hope in 2014.
“Next year we should have a good offense still,” junior quarterback Isaac Holder said. “We lose a lot of seniors, but we should be good.”
The Gryphons also will return Ray Ray McCloud III, the county’s leading rusher this season.
Defensively, returners include linebackers Zeke Houston and Logan Braswell, who had a fumble recovery Friday.
Plant gets good news on Beck, Bush injuries
The availability of Plant linebacker Andrew Beck and offensive lineman Richard Bush was in serious doubt after Friday’s 17-7 victory against Fort Pierce Central in a Class 8A region final.
After checking with the Panthers’ team doctor Saturday afternoon, Plant coach Robert Weiner said things were looking more positive for Beck and Bush, who left Friday’s game with an ankle and foot injuries, respectively.
“We will keep them (out of practice for a couple days), but today (Saturday) we have a much better outlook,” Weiner said.
Beck, a University of Texas commit who leads the team with an average of eight tackles a game, left midway through the third quarter Friday. Initially, Beck and trainers feared the ankle might be broken, but Beck said he felt a little better during the fourth quarter as he leaned on crutches.
Bush, the Panthers’ center who missed a couple of games earlier this season with a foot strain, also left in the second half of Friday’s game and did not return.
Now the hope is that Beck and Bush can return when Plant (11-1-1) hosts Friday’s state semifinal against Apopka, the defending Class 8A state champions, who this year have averaged 52 points a game in going 12-1.
“(Beck and Bush) are our heart and soul on both sides of the ball so we’re really hoping they’re OK,” Weiner said after beating Fort Pierce Central.
Patrick Brooks, Plant — Brooks rushed 20 times for 145 yards and scored both of the Panthers’ touchdowns in Plant’s 17-7 victory against Fort Pierce Central. Brooks’ first touchdown came on a 30-yard screen pass and the second on a 12-yard rush.
Aaron Covington, Armwood — The cornerback had a third-quarter interception, setting up a scoring drive, and also came up with a recovery on the kickoff team on an onside kick.
Trevor Laurent, Armwood — The sophomore made the most of his four catches Friday, going for 124 yards, including a 70-yard touchdown grab, and now leads the team with 520 yards receiving.
Deven Santana, Sickles — The senior defensive end had a sack and a forced fumble against Kissimmee Osceola.