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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.
Spongers QB Worthy Jackson, declared ineligible by FHSAA, learns his fate Friday.
By BOB PUTNAM
Published September 6, 2006
Worthy Jackson is a star without a stage. The Tarpon Springs senior is marking time until Friday, when an appeals committee in Bartow will decide whether he will be eligible to play for the Spongers this season.
"I'm hoping so much I get to play," Jackson said.
Jackson was Dunedin's starting quarterback last season. He planned to attend Tarpon Springs this season and participated in the Spongers' spring practices and played in their spring game, though he was not yet enrolled at the school.
The Florida High School Athletics Association investigated. Tarpon Springs coach Bruce Buck admitted he was wrong for letting Jackson play and resigned in the hope the FHSAA would be lenient in its ruling.
"I made a mistake, a mistake of ignorance of a rule; not a recruiting violation, not insubordination, just a misunderstanding about a rule" Buck said in a statement in June.
"And I will with every avenue available to me do everything I can to make sure the tremendous men of Tarpon football don't get disciplined for my mistake."
Jackson enrolled at Tarpon Springs through school choice and practiced with the team this summer.
But his season was put on hold after the FHSAA ruled him ineligible. The school also was reprimanded and fined $450 and the football program was placed on administrative probation for the 2006-07 school year.
The decision came 15 minutes before the preseason Kickoff Classic against Countryside in August.
"It was so crazy," Jackson said. "I was in my pads and ready to go. The coaches told me right before the game, and I had to watch."
Jackson is now a spectator. He watched last week as his former team (Dunedin) beat his new one (Tarpon) 34-0.
"That was a tough one," Jackson said. "I know I'm going to the appeal with my coaches and hopefully everything works in my favor."
Each week the Times will post a football question on the preps blog and publish the results on Wednesdays.
This week's question: Who is the county's most elusive running back?
NEXT WEEK'S QUESTION: Who is the county's best power back? To vote, log on to our high school sports blog at http://blogs.tampabay.com/preps/.