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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.
TAMPA - Freedom's up-and-down ride through this young football season took another dramatic turn Tuesday when principal Richard Bartels announced Adam Stegeman was forced to resign as Patriots coach.
"I'm not going to get into the particulars, but it involved an incident after (the Patriots' 21-14 overtime victory over Wesley Chapel on Friday)," Bartels said.
"Leon Brockmeier, our offensive coordinator, will take over as head coach through the rest of the season."
Stegeman, 29 and in his third year as Freedom's head coach, said he was informed of the decision Monday. Stegeman, who was 11-12 and 2-1 this season, declined to comment further, except to read from a prepared statement.
"As an educator and a coach in the Hillsborough County school district, it has always been my aim to do everything for the betterment for the student-athlete on and off the field," Stegeman said.
"And for the betterment of the team it has been decided to go with another head football coach at Freedom High School and I will support the decision."
Bartels said Stegeman is prohibited from having any contact with the football team, but would remain as a business teacher at Freedom through the remainder of the school year.
Brockmeier, assistant coaches and players said at practice they were not told why Stegeman was removed and declined to comment. Hillsborough County school board officials said they had no comment because the case was still under the umbrella of an active investigation.
The dismissal of Stegeman added another tumultuous chapter to the Patriots' season that has included a 36-0 opening-night drubbing by Wharton, and the sitting of seven players for disciplinary reasons in the 21-3 second-week victory over Sickles, which was followed by the overtime victory against Wesley Chape.
This week Freedom hosts Plant, which is 2-0 after last Friday's 31-7 victory over Middleton.