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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.
By ERIC MUSKATEVC Times Correspondent
Published December 28, 2006
NEW PORT RICHEY - For some, like Brian Koon, it takes practice. For others, like Zach Webb, it just takes stepping onto the field.
But for both, the timing of their breakout performances seemed almost perfect Wednesday, as Koon, Webb and Ridgewood won just their second game of the season, 3-2 over Blanche Ely of Pompano Beach in the opening draw of their own sixth annual Ridgewood Winter Tournament.
Webb, a junior who had never played outside of recreational ball, scored consecutive goals to give the Rams a 2-1 halftime lead. With the game tied at 3 in the waning minutes, Koon nailed a 40-yard direct free kick into the net to win on a kick he has practiced his entire life.
"We play really hard, a lot," Webb said of his Rams (2-12-1). "We just seem to never be able to finish. It feels great now to have finally finished off a game."
Things looked troublesome for the hosts as the Tigers, led by former River Ridge coach Concepcion Ledezma, played a quick, physical and crafty game early, which led to the game's first goal by Jose Rivera. Within minutes, Webb got a hold and assist from Mike Piemonte's cross into the box and one-timed it through. Minutes later, Webb put his head on a corner-kick by Cristian Ariza and redirected it for the lead.
"I've been trying," said Webb, who has five goals. "This is my first year on the school team. I'm starting to pick it up."
Blanche Ely (5-7-1) was on the attack again early in the second half and tied it with 17 minutes left. With just under 10 minutes remaining, the Tigers were called for a handball midway between the top of the box and half-field. Koon ran up from defense, waited until action was settled and laid a powerful shot that bent down just under the crossbar and just over the Tigers' keeper - his third goal of that kind this year. Louis DePaolis earned the win in net.
"I'm always looking for that opportunity," Koon said. "I practice that shot every day."
In earlier tournament action, Zephyrhills took a swift two-goal lead against Hudson and held on in a tight 2-1 match. Largo collected two red-cards in its four-goal shutout over Robinson, and Alonso mercy-ruled Blake 8-0.