Sometimes, in the immortal words of Al Davis, it's just about winning, baby. Armwood (Seffner)
, a program rich in tradition and championships, didn't play its best on Friday and for much of the night was outplayed.
But the Hawks (14-0) figured out a way to win, in triple-overtime no less.
Quarterback Noah Johnson
scrambled around and scored on a third-and-11 play to help his team pull out a wild 35-28 6A state semifinal triple-overtime win over Bartram Trail.
Armwood advances to the finals 1 p.m. Saturday against nationally-ranked Central (Miami).
"He is the straw to stir the drink," said head coach Sean Callahan. "When you have a quarterback who is very involved in the running game, it makes it tough on your opponents. He is very gifted because when plays break down, he can make things happen."
The defense had to stop Bartram Trail and on fourth down, and sophomore Dedarallo Blue
broke up a pass to seal the win to send Armwood to its sixth title game since 2003.
For its tenacious win and commitment to excellence, Armwood has been picked as the MaxPreps Florida Team of the Week, presented by the Florida National Guard.
"It was truly evident out on the field, the kids played so hard," said Callahan. "Their team is very good and well-coached. There was great sportsmanship on the field between these two teams."
Armwood has outscored opponents 560-137 this season and is led offensively by Johnson, who had thrown for 1,910 yards and 16 touchdowns and rushed for 724 yards and 13 touchdowns heading into the semifinals.
The Hawks also rely on running backs Craig Carrington
(87 carries, 462 yards, six touchdowns) and Caylon Holloway
(59, 403, 7).
Armwood is balanced on the passing game as well, with three receivers sporting almost identical statistics. Trevor Laurent
, only a sophomore, leads the team with 32 catches for 532 yards, but Austin Gallon
(24, 458) and Talvin Bailey
(23, 477) aren't far behind.
"Our kids are growing up this year," said Callahan. "We only have 12 seniors, so the other
players have had to mature and we knew we were going to have to play
hard to win. There was a high level of excitement because they fought
Defensively, the Hawks are led by junior linebacker Jordan Griffin
, who has piled up a remarkable 132 tackles, which is much more than sophomore Justin Manning
(82 tackles), senior Hyraim Fredricks
(73) and junior Bryon Cowart
(67), who leads the team with 12 sacks.
Defensive backs Phillip Smith
, Aaron Covington
and Kyle Gibson
lead the Hawks with four interceptions apiece.
Callahan led the Hawks to state titles in 2003 and 2004. The team also won a state title on the field in 2011, but was stripped of it for using an ineligible player and of 26 victories during the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
On the field, not counting those forfeits, the Hawks have won a staggering 128 games since 2004. But Callahan and his team face a tough test with Central this week.
"Praying everyday," he said. "In all seriousness we are trying very hard. We will have to play with the same type of intensity that we have had. We have our work cut out for us."MaxPreps editorial assistant Kirstin Beal contributed to this report.