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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 - Plant coach Robert Weiner can add another trophy to the suddenly brimming school collection.
The Tampa Chapter of the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame presented him with the Billy Turner coach of the year award for the second year in a row at the group's 38th annual high school coaches' award luncheon Friday.
Weiner guided the Panthers to a 15-0 season and the school's first state championship after Saturday's 25-21 victory over Ponte Vedra Beach Nease in the Class 4A final. He has won 73 percent (27-10 overall) of his games in three seasons at the South Tampa school and has made the playoffs the past two years.
Though unable to attend the ceremony, Weiner relayed a message of thanks to coaches, sponsors and players for all their support through Plant representatives who accepted the award on his behalf.
Also at the luncheon, first-year Jefferson defensive coordinator Lee Meitzler was presented with the Roland Acosta assistant coach of the year award. His Dragons defense gave up just 55 points in the regular season and forced 26 turnovers in helping Jefferson to an 8-2 regular-season record and spot in the Class 4A region semifinals.
Meitzler dedicated the award to his deceased father, Ray, who was a high school coach in Louisiana.
"My dad coached football for years," Meitzler said. "I scouted teams and broke down film with him since I was a young kid. He taught me everything I know about football."
Wharton won the team sportsmanship award given by the West Coast Officials Association.