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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 DAVID MURPHY, Times Staff Writer
Published August 14, 2007
Every day leading up to football season, we'll drop by each school in Hernando and Pasco counties and take a look at an area team's preparations for the fall. Log on to the Times' high school sports blog at blogs.tampabay.com/preps for daily updates and audio reports on North Suncoast sports. Online today, listen to Times staff writers Izzy Gould and David Murphy discuss Hernando Christian and Academy at the Lakes' prospects for the 2007 season.
Setting: A field of brown-and-green grass to the left of the main school building.
Date: Friday, Aug. 10
Time: 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Weather: 91 degrees and humid.
The atmosphere: Light-hearted and casual. Then again, it was HCA's media day. The Lions did some running and some pass routes, but this wasn't one of coach David Raley's normal sessions. Typically, the first-year coach runs a practice that is nonstop.
"We run a high speed, running all the time," Raley said. "It just seems to condition the kids. You spend a lot of time having to run, so why not run between drills. That cuts down on the amount of conditioning you need to do."
The routine: The Lions run a two-hour practice, broken up into five-minute blocks. Raley, who also has coached in Jacksonville and Pensacola, said his experience has taught him not to overwork players.
"It always seems to me that when kids get hurt, it's after the two-hour time limit," Raley said.
Preseason stars: Wing backs Sean Byrne and Jeremy Knight both reported to practice with an extra 10 pounds of muscle on their frames, Raley said.
Preseason surprise: We pitched this one to Raley, and he went the abstract route.
"The main pleasant surprise has to be the camaraderie and the team work between the kids," Raley said. "They all have excellent attitudes. That would be the No. 1 thing."
Three things we thought
1. Quarterback David Rotteveel throws a nice ball, and his diminutive stature (he's a couple inches under 6 feet) won't be as big of a drawback as it would at a bigger school.
2. For a small school, the Lions have a decent amount of beef on the offensive front. With the loss of senior star Corey Drummond, HCA will need solid play from its line.
3. Say what you will about small-school football, but HCA is one of the few places where we've heard coaches teaching kids life lessons in the middle of practice.