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For their own good
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.
BRADENTON - Dixie Hollins knew it was coming. The Rebels had watched tape of Manatee tailback Chris McNear plow through Cape Coral's defense for 311 yards on 31 carries last week and they expected much of the same Friday.
Problem was, there was nothing Dixie Hollins could do about it.
McNear's 126 yards rushing, combined with a nearly nonexistent Rebels offense, added up to a season-ending 27-7 loss to the Hurricanes in the region semifinals at Joe Kinnan Field at Hawkins Stadium.
"That's Manatee football, that's their bread and butter," Rebels coach Mike Morey said. "They run I (formation) left, right and we knew that's what they would do."
But linebacker/running back Dustin Zitzmann said it wasn't what the Hurricanes did, it was how they did it.
"They had some blocking schemes up front that we've never seen before in Pinellas County," he said. "We adjusted at halftime but it was too late by then."
McNear, who gained 117 of his 126 yards in the first half, was a workhorse. At one point in the half the 5-foot-11, 175-pound senior carried the ball 14 of 16 offensive plays. After McNear had a 65-yard touchdown called back for an illegal block, Manatee took a 3-0 lead on Ryan Rubino's 30-yard field goal. The Rebels fumbled two plays later and Rubino hit a 36-yard field goal.
"You can't make the types of mistakes we made and expect to win in the playoffs," Zitzmann said.
Another miscue followed as Manatee linebacker Luke Aeschliman picked off a batted ball at the line of scrimmage and took it back 25 yards for a 13-0 halftime lead.
"That turnover just killed any momentum we had at all," Zitzmann said.
With Dixie Hollins unable to move the ball and McNear on the sideline nursing a bruised hand, Manatee continued to pound the ball at the Rebels.
The Hurricanes built a 27-0 lead on 1-and 3-yard plunges from fullback Nick Roehl before the Rebels broke up the shutout on a 1-yard Zitzmann run with 46 seconds remaining.
"They just physically handled us up front," Morey said. "That was the difference."
Dixie Hollins gained 65 yards rushing and 28 through the air. After getting a first down on their opening possession, the Rebels didn't get another until 7:38 of the third quarter. Quarterback Richie Christopher didn't complete his first pass until 1:26 of the fourth quarter and was picked off twice.