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May 23, 2013

Hawks set to fly in Jamboree

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We continue our 30 stops in 30 days with a quick detour to Seffner, Fla. to check in on Armwood.

SEFFNER -- After the year Sean Callahan had in 2012 - he's ready for some football

A six-month Florida High School Athletic Association investigation into Armwood's football program resulted in the vacating of the 2011 state crown, the ineligibility of several key players and a lot of off-field distractions for the Hawks.

"I'm just glad to have it behind me and play some football," Callahan said as he prepared for a four-team jamboree. "It was a constant distraction."

Still, the Hawks battled through - finished as a runner-up to county rival Hillsborough and made a run to the regional finals before falling to Gainesville, 42-10.

"We were awful young last year," Callahan said. "We basically had a JV team with Alvin (Bailey) and Leon (McQuay). But we've grown up now."

With five starters back on defense and five on offense, the Hawks will look to solve the quarterback opening with rising junior Noah Johnson.

"He's very athletic," Callahan said. "He needs to get comfortable with the offense. But he can make plays with his arm and his legs."

Returning on offense are lineman Tom Burtley, RBs Greg Newton and Craig Carrington along with WR's Talvin Bailey and Austin Gallon.

"Newton and Carrington couldn't play last year," Callahan said. "Which forced us to play a lot of kids in their place. I'm anxious to see them both get some reps."

The biggest challenge for the Hawks is up front, where graduation has taken its toll on both sides of the ball.

"We've got to win the battles up front," Callahan said. "That's where it all starts. We've been working the kids hard. We've put a lot of time and effort to our front line."

Defensively, the Hawks will return strong safety Kyle Gibson, DE's Byron Cowart and Hyram Fredericks along with LB/CB Aaron Covington.

One of the key losses off last year's defense is defensive coordinator Matt Thompson who took over at Jesuit after 18 years with the Hawks.

"That's a big loss for us, but we promoted within and we'll keep on going."

"We've had a good month of May," Callahan said. "We've gotten better on the front and worked hard together. We feel better about ourselves than we did last May, that's for sure."

The Hawks will be in a district with eight other teams - something that Callahan isn't overly thrilled with - but he's accepted it now.

"There are several teams that can win this district," Callahan said. "We have some very good teams."

Armwood will face off with Strawberry Crest. Durant, and Plant City for the jamboree Thursday - and open with Durant to start the season.



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