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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.
A national television audience doesn't change much for Hawks and Dragons.
By SCOTT PURKS
Published September 15, 2006
SEFFNER - A former boxing champion of the world once had a live, nationally televised interview regarding an upcoming fight. And in this interview, in which he appeared jittery and nervous, he must have said 20 times:
"It's just hyke! ... Hyke ... hyke ... hyke!"
Which helps put tonight's ESPNU nationally televised prep football game between Armwood (3-0) and Jefferson (3-0) in perspective.
No. 1: Live national television can dramatically increase hyke, or rather hype.
No. 2: Live national television can make you look silly if you say something like "hyke," especially if you say it 20 or so times.
No. 3: Live national television can cause folks to get jittery and nervous.
Jefferson coach Mike Fenton, however, said he believed his team is "ready (for national television). Look we know it's gonna be a circus, huge crowd, cameras everywhere, media everywhere.
"But this hype has been building for a while, and by now I think we pretty much know what's coming."
One of the brightest spotlights will be on Jefferson quarterback Stephen Garcia, rated among the top 100 prep players in the country by several recruiting services. But Garcia, for one, doesn't seem fazed by any of it.
"I'm focused on what I have to do," he said. "Hype is just that, hype. It doesn't mean anything. I don't care if there's three people or a million people watching."
Standing near Garcia was 6-foot-5, 330-pound Daniel Castellvi, who seemed a little jittery, or perhaps, extremely excited about playing on national television.
"Hype? No," Castellvi said. "I see it as a chance to show what I can do."
Because it is nationally televised, Castellvi not only has a chance to show how well he blocks, but how well he blocks against Rivals.com No. 1-rated prep football player in the state: 6-foot-5, 270-pound Armwood defensive lineman Torrey Davis.
"Look," Castellvi said, "you can put this in the paper. I'm-"
"Don't say it," Garcia said. "Don't give (Armwood) something to put up on their wall."
Castellvi grinned. "I'm not going to say anything (to get Armwood fired up)," he said, then said nothing more.
Fenton, sitting next to Garcia and Castellvi, said, "We're not doing anything differently. We haven't changed our practice schedule or anything like that.
"We just want to beat Armwood. They've put it to us the last few years (Jefferson has lost four in a row to the Hawks by a combined 141-30), and we're pretty tired of it."
At Thursday's practice, Fenton did at least one extra thing to prepare for "the circus," putting up loudspeakers and blaring crowd noise and music to simulate what it might sound like.
In Seffner, where the game will be played at Lyle Flagg Stadium, it seems like just another big game, of which the Hawks have played many, including the past three Class 4A state finals, winning two (2003 and 2004).
"Because we've been involved in so many big games, I don't see the hype getting to our guys," Callahan said. "On the top of our practice plan I told my kids to continue staying humble. We're not a big rah-rah, whoop-it-up group; we're just steady."
Fenton, who has coached in two state finals at Jefferson (2002, 2004), agreed.
"This does feel a little like the hype before a state championship game," he said. "But hey, we've been there. We're ready."
For the record, none of the players or coaches said "hyke," which seems like a good thing in case they get interviewed on national TV, which could happen.