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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 on the line
The Rams are looking for redemption, with lineman Josh Curtis leading the search.
By DEREK LaRIVIERE
Published August 25, 2006
NEW PORT RICHEY - One win in 10 games. That was the result of all the hard work from last spring, summer and fall for Ridgewood.
This year, the Rams are focused on improvement from the start.
Senior Josh Curtis epitomizes this new-found attitude. As the team's top offensive lineman, he is the leader of a unit that opened holes for one of the county's leading rushers last season in tailback Byronell Arline.
"So much of the credit for my success has to go to the big guys up front," Arline said. "By the end of the season, they were keying in on the run against us, but we were still executing thanks to them."
On Arline's path to over 1,300 yards in 2005, Curtis was instrumental. But when looking at film, he realized he could be much better if he just pushed himself.
Now he is 30 pounds heavier thanks to a steady training regimen over the course of the summer.
"There's no real secret to the weight gain," Curtis said. "I lifted constantly and ate whatever was in front of me."
His ultimate goal is to get a college scholarship to continue playing the sport he loves, but for now, he is content on contributing to turning things around for the Rams in 2006.
"The line needs to open some holes," Curtis said. "There needs to be a lot more runs to the end zone if we're going to win games."
Second-year coach Chris Taylor sees the lineman's role as one of the most important on the entire team, not just the offense. Curtis has taken a leadership role this season that he didn't have in the past.
"The line sets the tone offensively, and Josh has been the leader out there," Taylor said. "Even though he's technically a senior, he began playing as a sophomore, so in my eyes, he's still a junior at heart."
That third-year mentality may contribute to his closeness with the other top players on the team, all juniors. Arline, defensive standout Ben Perry and Curtis all began in the program at the same time, so they have all experienced the same ups and downs to this point.
"For me, this is the last chance I have to be a part of a winning team, a playoff team," Curtis said, "but Ben, Byronell and the rest of the guys out here want to win just as badly, and that's what drives us."
While a turnaround from 1-9 to 9-1 is unlikely, you will never be able to convince the Ridgewood gridiron stars otherwise.
Curtis is no exception, as evidenced by the dedication he has put into his craft over the past couple of years.