Armwood’s quick exit from the 2016 playoffs was quite different from what we have expected of the past five years. The Hawks battled with Lake Gibson in the second round and lost on a game-winning field goal off the foot of Nick Lutz.
Lake Gibson danced all the way to the 6A state championship game. Armwood watched on television.
If they even decided to tune in, as Sean Callahan’s men went right back to the daily grind after their heartbreaking loss. For guys like Darrian McNeal, Mekhi LaPointe, Erin Collins, etc., they wouldn’t get that chance again, at least not on a high school field.
For guys like Jhonathan Quest, however, its a chance to find his way into a strong role with this storied program.
Quest will occupy the vacant free safety spot left by LaPointe, who moves on to the University of South Florida. Quest will now begin his quest to try and pick up where the ball hawking free safety left off. His time behind LaPointe was full of learning and getting ready to be the next man up when Callahan needed him. “One of the most important thing I learned from him was its all about having an attitude and a good relationship why my brothers. It makes everything a lot easier,” Quest said.
He played the majority of his snaps on the special team squad, something in which he enjoys doing and will continue to do this season. However, he showed a lot of promise in the secondary. He intercepted an under-thrown ball against Sickles in the final game of his season last year. He broke up a few passes and hit guys hard whenever he got a chance to make a tackle. He also has the ability to shed blocks well.
“I just love being on the field. I’m going to make every play I can to get this team back to state,” Quest said.
Armwood missed the state final game for the first time since 2012. Quest is excited to help lead them right back to it. “We just have to work two and three times harder. We’ve got a lot of little reminders in the locker room that motivate us each and everyday,” Quest said. “For us, it’s all about being on one accord and coming together as a family.”
That family is highlighted by D-1 WRs in Jerome Ford and Warren Thompson and by Ohio State commit Brian Snead in the backfield. That’s just the offense. James Miller returns at ILB, and led the team in tackles last year. He has verbal offers from LSU and Oregon. Malcom Lamar had seven sacks last year and has an offer from Florida and Alabama and will return in 2017.
Armwood, as expected, returns a ton of guys that are valued prospects. This last recruiting class alone produced players that had a combined $1M in scholarship money, according to Kevin O’Donnell from Fox 13 News. The Hawks have become a pipeline right to Division One football.
“I definitely can see myself sitting at that table come next National Signing Day. I know I can get a scholarship just by my work in the classroom. I’m a part of the Collegiate Academy at Armwood, and I will be graduating with my A.A. right out of high school.”
For those who aren’t aware, the Collegiate Academy is a program that is sponsored by Hillsborough Community College, and students get to take dual enrollment classes in school, working towards their associates degree. It’s a program only offered at two schools in Hillsborough County (Lennard being the other), and the student must apply and be accepted to be a part of the program. It’s a rigorous course-load.
“It’s all about time-management. I’ve got a good home base, my parents help me out with anything I need. It’s tough, but since I’m this far into it, I’ve got to keep going. Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel is an awesome feeling,” Quest said.
Before that, there’s a tough schedule for Armwood to get through before they look to get back to the state title game. Contests with Hillsborough, Plant, and Jefferson highlight their regular season schedule. They’ve scheduled Manatee again for their Kickoff Classic game.
“I trust my coaches a lot. Coach Callahan has us working very hard, and we know that we will be prepared if we go in confident. They’ll all be great games which will give us a good look for what to expect in the playoffs.”
That work begins now for the Hawks, who will have Quest to be a leader in the secondary that compiled nine interceptions and 38 pass deflections in 2017.
“I just want to have no regrets. I’m going to do everything at 110 percent, and I’m going to maximize every opportunity to have a great senior year,” Quest said.