November 18, 2011

SOCIAL: Follow on Twitter | Friend on Facebook

Dallas Jackson is the Senior Analyst for RivalsHigh. Email him your question, comment or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.

No. 2 Seffner (Fla.) Armwood and No. 31 Miami (Fla.) Central have spent most of the season battling to see which is the more dominant team in Class 6A on the way to a much anticipated match-up in a state final.

This past week, they spent time battling another issue: Eligibility.

Both schools were rocked by an eligibility question surrounding a top athlete (OL Jack Lightsey at Armwood; QB Austin Stock at Central). And while both have been cleared (for now) of any wrongdoing, the schools responded in different ways in the first round of the playoffs.

Off-the-field distractions can go one of two ways: They can galvanize a team, creating a singular focus, or they can cause a poor week of practice and lackadaisical performance.

Miami Central appeared to be galvanized. It could do no wrong from start to finish in a 71-0 triumph over Pembroke (Fla.) Pines Charter.

Armwood went a different way. It ran out to a 28-3 lead over a 5-5 Bradenton (Fla.) Lakewood Ranch team before yielding four straight touchdowns. In fact, it needed a late touchdown to even advance, pulling out a 35-31 win.

Armwood coach Sean Callahan spent the week saying the eligibility issue would not impact his team.

"Armwood football has done absolutely nothing wrong," he told TampaBay.com. "We have nothing to hide and will go out of our way to help the FHSAA secure all the facts."

Afterward, however, Callahan told the paper the incident - along with an off week - had impacted the team.

It was obvious.

Armwood had given up just 52 points on the season entering Friday night's game - and just 35 since a season-opening victory over No. 6 Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman.

The Hawks had been in a battle for the top spot in Florida much of the season before putting some separation between itself and Miramar (Fla.) High.

But on Friday night, that gap may have been more than closed, it could have flipped.

It was not the first time in recent memory, or even this season, that Armwood had jumped out to a big lead only to allow an opponent back into the game.

In its win against Gorman, the Hawks led 20-3 and held on to a 20-17 win.

At the time, RivalsHigh wrote that the team needed to learn to close.

It was a point that resonated with the team and defensive coordinator, Matt Thompson.

"We were kind of offended by it," Thompson told FlaVarsity.com. "We have used it as a rally cry."

Following its late-game escape, the Armwood ability and focus will come into question again - especially juxtaposed against the Miami Central result.

Assuming it is cleared of wrongdoing, Armwood will remain a favorite to make the Florida 6A title game.

But after this performance, it remains to be seen if it would be favored - or the higher-ranked team.

MORE: Computers give a new look to high school football rankings



FEATURED PRODUCT


 

Rivals.com is your source for: College Football | Football Recruiting | College Basketball | Basketball Recruiting | College Baseball | High School | College Merchandise
Site-specific editorial/photos Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved. This website is an officially and independently operated source of news and information not affiliated with any school or team.
About | Advertise with Us | Contact | Privacy Policy | About our Ads | Terms of Service | Copyright/IP policy | Yahoo! Sports - NBC Sports Network

Statistical information 2007 STATS LLC All Rights Reserved.