Jesuit (2-1) at Armwood (2-1), 7:30
Four things to know
Jesuit coach Matt Thompson graduated from Armwood (Class of 1986) and spent 19 years at his alma mater as an assistant, including a decade as defensive coordinator, before taking over the Tigers in December of 2012.
During Thompson’s tenure, the Hawks won three state titles (one was later forfeited) and played in two other championship games.
The success continued for Thompson at Jesuit. He won his 100th game in this year’s season opener against Wharton and has led the program to six state semifinal appearances in the past seven seasons, culminating with last year’s state title.
Now comes another milestone with Thompson’s first game against his alma mater.
“It will be memorable,” Thompson said. “This is the first time I’ve been back since I left.”
Last week, Jesuit quarterback Luke Knight stunned most at the school by transferring to Merritt Island.
To fill that void, the Tigers will turn to freshman Will Griffin, a transfer from Northside Christian.
Though Griffin is a newcomer, he has experience as a starter, throwing for more than 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns with the Mustangs as an eighth grader a year ago.
In the first three games, Griffin served as the understudy to Knight, who was 17-1 as the starter and led Jesuit to a state title last season.
Griffin completed six of his 13 passes for 144 yards and a touchdown playing in a limited role.
Now, he has the spotlight with his first start as a Tiger coming in a premier matchup against Armwood.
Jesuit had a bye last week, giving them more time to develop an offense tailored to Griffin’s strengths.
“The biggest thing is reps,” Thompson said. “Will didn’t have many at the start of the year. We have to make it easy for him. We need to run the ball well.
“Will is going to make some mistakes. He’s young. But he’ll get it, and we’ll be fine.”
Armwood still among the elite
The Hawks have been flying under the radar.
Last year, Armwood had to forfeit three games for using an ineligible player, which prevented the Hawks from making the playoffs for the first time since 2001.
Heading into this season, Jesuit, Tampa Bay Tech and Wharton grabbed most of the headlines.
Armwood did not. After all, the Hawks were coming off a losing record. They were not aided by high-profile transfers that others ended up getting.
Still, the Hawks are contenders.
Their three losses on the field last season came against Hillsborough, Tampa Bay Tech and Newsome, all of which made significant playoff runs a year ago. And Armwood beat Wharton late in the season.
This year, the Hawks lost their opener on the road to Hillcrest (Ala.) before reeling off impressive victories against Bloomingdale and Hillsborough.
The offense has playmakers, led by quarterback Murdolph Jones, running back Girard Pringle Jr. and receiver Malik Brown. On defense, Armwood still is as formidable as ever.
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