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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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All Suncoast Defense
By Times Staff
Published August 25, 2006
2005 TIMES ALL-SUNCOAST FIRST-TEAM DEFENSE
Torrey Davis, Armwood, Jr., 6-5, 284. Davis had a breakout season and helped turn Armwood's defensive line, one of its weaknesses in 2004, into one of its strengths in 2005. Using his wide frame, Davis has the ability to clog running lanes and harass quarterbacks. Davis should be one of the top prospects in Hillsborough in 2006. "After losing in the (Class 4A state final 44-37 to Ponte Vedra Beach Nease) I can't wait to get back into it for next year," Davis said. "I think we could have an even better season next year."
Darrell Roseman, Dunedin, Sr., 6-5, 234. Roseman was the hardest-to-handle pass-rusher in Pinellas County, using his size to overpower lineman or his speed to whip around them. Roseman has stood out since his sophomore year and had his best season in 2005 as he helped Dunedin become Pinellas' stingiest defensive unit with 12 sacks, 17 tackles for a loss and five deflected passes. A blue-chip prospect with schools such as Auburn and Ohio State courting him, Roseman also played offensive line for the Falcons.
Leslie Stirrups, Hillsborough, Sr., 6-4, 275. A tremendously athletic nose guard who can dunk a basketball with two hands and has the shiftiness of a running back (a position he sometimes played), Stirrups, the eighth-best defensive tackle in the country, according to rivals.com, orally committed to South Florida in November. He runs 40 yards in under five seconds, bench presses 315 pounds and squats 565. He finished the season with 57 tackles (five for a loss) and four sacks.
Caz Piurowski, Land O'Lakes, Sr., 6-7, 245. Though his size and athletic ability often forced teams to stay away from him, the Florida State oral commitment was far more than a decoy. He was a regular presence in opposing backfields, where his tremendous reach allowed him to corral backs or bat down passes. He was equally formidable at tight end, catching 34 passes - second most in Pasco County - for 589 yards and five touchdowns.
A.J. Jones, Middleton, Sr., 6-2, 195. Jones is an instinctive linebacker and playmaker. He finished his senior season with 116 tackles and six sacks after leading Hillsborough County in 2004 in tackles (170). He forced an early fumble and returned it 95 yards for a touchdown in Middleton's 31-29 win over Freedom. He had offers from a number of schools, including Florida, USC and Ohio State.
Dougie Thompson, Armwood, Sr., 6-1, 255. A hard-hitting linebacker, Thompson led Armwood with 138 tackles and was the heart and soul of the top defense in Hillsborough County. Since becoming a starter, he led the Hawks to a 42-2 record (Armwood forfeited one game), three state championship games and two state titles. He played every defensive down this season.
Dustin Zitzmann, Dixie Hollins, Sr., 6-0, 205. Rebels tackles crashed the line with more than 600 pounds of up-the-middle bulk, allowing Zitzmann, one of Pinellas County's top tacklers, to mop up. He finished with 165 tackles and had two defensive touchdowns to help the Rebels advance to the region semifinals. He also pounded out the tough yards as a fullback.
Bryan Thomas, Zephyrhills, Sr., 6-3, 195. Pasco County's defensive player of the year scored every way imaginable - rushing, receptions, kick and interception returns - while almost single-handedly pushing Zephyrhills into the playoffs. The Bulldogs' fortunes improved after the Florida oral commitment moved from receiver to running back, and his five interceptions - three returned for scores - tied for most in the county.
Riley Cooper, CCC, Sr., 6-4, 205. One of Pinellas Country's top-10 athletes, according to most recruiting services, and boasting 4.4 speed, Cooper committed to Florida, where he could play receiver or defensive back. As a defender, the three-time, all-county selection had 103 tackles and five interceptions, giving him 20 for his career. As a receiver, he had four games without a catch, but in the seven he did, he finished with 34 receptions for 572 yards and seven scores.
Javier Arenas, Robinson, Sr., 5-9, 165. Hillsborough County's best return specialist and one of its top defensive backs, Arenas ran back six kicks (punts and kickoffs) for touchdowns. "His lower-body strength is incredible," Robinson offensive coordinator Rob Burns said. "People think they can hit him straight up because he's so small. All they do is bounce off of him." Arenas runs a 4.5 40 and benches 300 pounds.
Montel Gamble, Tarpon Springs, Sr., 6-3, 175. Gamble has all the tools - size, speed and explosiveness - to dominate receivers. He also is dangerous with the ball. Opponents found out the hard way as Gamble made a habit of creating a turnover at opportune times. He finished with 78 tackles, five interceptions, six fumble recoveries and two defensive touchdowns.
Alton Voss, Gulf, Jr., 6-3, 225. Voss ran for 1,104 yards and 13 touchdowns and threw for 1,314 and 13 scores while propeling a team that won only two games the previous season to within one win of the playoffs. He saw time at defensive end, defensive tackle, linebacker, defensive back, kick returner and on the punt team.
Cody Shaffer, Crystal River, Sr., 6-2, 185. Shaffer had just 36 yards per punt, but hung them long enough to be a special-teams weapon for a struggling team. He sent tapes to USF, but figures his best chance at a scholarship will be in soccer. USF, Central Florida and Florida Atlantic were interested in the goalie, and Duke and North Carolina sent letters.