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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.
Largo sophomore tailback Kim Howard, the cousin of the graduated Packers star, delivered a breakout performance on Friday night against Lakewood.
Howard rushed for 148 yards and threw for 30 more to help Largo thump the Spartans, 41-27 in a matchup of undefeated teams.
Largo (2-0) grinded out 259 yards rushing on 35 attempts, with tailback Brynn Harvey scoring three touchdowns.
But it was the playmaking Howard, nicknamed "Boggie" by his father, who stole the show and reminded Largo coach Rick Rodriguez of his previous Mr. Everything back, McCluster. McCluster is now at Mississippi after breaking a county record by averaging more than 200 yards rushing during the regular season and finishing with 2,490 and 39 touchdowns.
Howard "may be even better," Rodriguez said of his young star. "Dexter is awful hard to top, but Boggie (Howard) is on pace...
"He's got the real deal."
Howard, at 5-foot-6, 160 pounds, blends both speed and deceptive strength. He blows through attempted arm tackles and, when running inside, is as slippery as a snake.
Largo junior quarterback Leonard Johnson didn't attempt a pass until 15 minutes into the game. That's when, after selling a stellar play-fake to Howard on the right side, Johnson lofted a 27-yard touchdown strike to junior Reginald McCray near the left sideline.
Lakewood senior quarterback Corey Henderson a big bright spot for the Spartans. Chased all night by a swarming Packers defense, the short but swift senior threw for 180 yards and two touchdowns.
But it was Howard's right arm that put the Spartans away. Up 27-13 with nine minutes to go, Largo faced a 3rd-and-12 on Lakewood's 39. That's when Howard took a pitch like he was going to run another sweep, rolled out to his right and tossed a tight spiral 30 yards downfield to a double-covered Mario Goshey. Goshey snatched the ball from two defenders, setting up Harvey's third score.
Howard said his cousin, McCluster, "taught me everything I know." But Rodriguez had to admit, "Boggie's a better passer."