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Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Barons in first state semifinal
SPC plays "good enough to win because of the character on this team."
By JAMAL THALJI
Published November 20, 2004
ST. PETERSBURG - In the end, it wasn't the fleet feet of Jock Sanders or the savage pass rush put on by Carl Teague or any of St. Petersburg Catholic's other weapons that decided Friday night's region final against rival Clearwater Central Catholic.
That was how SPC won 38-14.
But that isn't why SPC won.
Guts. That's why the Barons (8-1) won the first region championship in their 48-year history and next week advance to their first state semifinal against Pahokee at Joe Paul Stadium.
Don't let the final score fool you. SPC was on the ropes in the opening quarter and couldn't put rival CCC away in the second or third.
"We didn't play a real good game," Barons coach Dan Mancuso said. "But we played good enough to win because of the character of this team. The teams we've had in the past, if we got down, the air would have deflated.
"This team keeps fighting."
The Marauders (6-4) didn't give them any choice, putting up a fight from the kickoff to the last snap, when coach Mike Jalazo had to keep 6-foot-5, 270-pound Billy Bob Stamas from charging the officials.
The first half was a shootout. CCC went up 7-0 with 7:19 left in the opening quarter when Andrew Nowels hit Colin McCarthy with a 12-yard touchdown pass. Both teams then traded interceptions, and Sanders got the ball back for SPC at the opposing 21 to set up Billy Tapp's 3-yard quarterback sneak to tie the score at 7 with 2:19 left.
The Marauders' Ron Harris went 29 yards to go up 14-7 with 15.7 seconds left in the first. Another bad squib kick gave the Barons a short field and Teague a 35-yard touchdown run to tie it at 14 with 11:50 left in the second.
But CCC started to fall apart with 6:41 left, when triple-threat star Riley Cooper was left writhing in pain underneath a pile of his defensive teammates. Cooper was diagnosed with a dislocated left shoulder, and CCC's playmaker would not return.
Tapp gave SPC the lead on a 7-yard touchdown scramble to go up 21-14 with 4:32 left. A failed fake punt would give CCC one more chance to score at the end of the half, but Rashad Etheridge blocked Anthony Leandri's 31-yard field goal attempt.
Sanders, who rushed for 264 yards, put the game away with a 65-yard scoring jaunt to make it 28-14 with 5 minutes left in the third. But Sanders had to run the ball, because Tapp was only 7 of 14 for 38 yards and threw two interceptions.
Harris ran for 96 yards. Nowels was 16 of 31 for 190 yards but threw four interceptions. Yet their team was saddled with 105 penalty yards and five turnovers. "We don't care about the rivalry," Sanders said. "It was just a gut check."