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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.
SEFFNER - A photo of Miami Washington quarterback Alwan Lee is taped to a bulletin board outside Armwood's locker room with the words, "You can't stop me!" written in ink above it.
Last year, the Hawks didn't stop him. Or even slow him.
Though Lee's team fell to Armwood 36-35 in a thrilling state semifinal, the talented player passed and dashed his team from one end of the field to the other throughout, leaving the Hawks near exhaustion by game's end. Lee finished with 487 total yards - 312 passing, 175 rushing - and had a hand in every Washington touchdown.
Now Armwood, especially its secondary, is eager for the rematch.
"We want redemption," safety Jeremy Carver said.
Earning it won't be easy.
Lee likely will be the most gifted quarterback Armwood has faced this season. And it's not just his arm that makes the 6-foot, 171-pound senior, who is committed to USF, so difficult to defend. He is as quick as he is nimble, and his uncanny scrambling ability gives his receivers an additional two or three seconds to get open, Armwood cornerback Josh Collier said.
"You really have to be in the zone against him," Collier said.
For Armwood to contain Lee and Co., who have scored 42 or more points in four of 10 games, the secondary needs to play its best. And for the record, the group is certain it will.
"We've been looking forward to this game since the summer," safety Akeem Joseph said. "It's about respect for us."
Here's why the secondary likes its odds:
The unit is more experienced. All four starters, Carver, Collier, Joseph and cornerback Jamarl Payton, are seniors.
In last year's game, Collier played with one knee in a brace. That brace is gone.
Payton, a transfer who moved after his school in Slidell, La., was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, has been called "as good a cornerback as we've ever had" by Hawks coach Sean Callahan.
The starters have combined for nine interceptions and 34 pass breakups.
Armwood allows 61.8 passing yards a game.
More than ever, the secondary is getting help from a dominating defensive line.
"We all play as one," Carver said of the secondary. "There's no one star. It's all four of us working together and coaching each other."
Will that be enough against Lee?
"I have total confidence in them," Hawks defensive coordinator Matt Thompson said.