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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.
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Suspension takes two
By RODNEY THRASH, Times Staff Writer
Published October 5, 2007
"It's horrible, absolutely horrible. It's heartbreaking," Westchase Colts coach Brandon Miles said of being unable to coach his youth team because of a three-game suspension.
[Ross Mantle | Times]
[Ross Mantle | Times]
Westchase Colts defensive coach Terry Owen takes over practice at the Ed Radice Sports Complex in the absence of head coach Brandon Miles. Owen, a former high school football coach from Texas, said the "kids are missing (Miles) a lot."
WESTCHASE - The Westchase Colts entered the Sept. 8 game against the Northside Dolphins with an unblemished record. Two games into the 2007 season, they were 2-0.
With only seconds left in the game, the Colts were up a point and on their way to another victory.
Brandon Miles, the team's coach, instructed his players to kneel and run out the clock. The team's perfect season was at stake.
Colts, 13. Dolphins, 12.
Game over? Hardly.
"It's a shame," said Scott Levinson, president of the Tampa Bay Youth Football League. "It's not just a game anymore."
No, it's not the NFL. This stuff is happening right here, in the Tampa Bay Youth Football League.
Last week, league officials slapped a popular Westchase coach with a one year suspension before reducing it to three games. They also stripped the Colts of their win and fined the team $100.
The losing team came forward with proof that a Colts player was in the game for less than five plays, the league-mandated minimum.
Brandon Miles, the Colts coach, didn't know. Parent volunteers tracked that information. But league rules lay the blame - and the punishment - squarely at the feet of coaches.
Miles, who mentors some team members without fathers and takes them to church on Sundays, watched last Saturday's game against the Town 'N Country Packers as a spectator.
"Don't take the one thing that's building them up," he said.
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Things came to a head four Sundays ago when Dolphin officials were reviewing tape of the game against the Colts and noticed something: One of the Colts was in the game five times, the mandatory minimum. But one of those plays was a kneel down. A kneel down or a spike of the football, league rules state, does not count toward play time.
The Dolphins filed a grievance.
The youth league's grievance board met. They reviewed the tape and their by-laws. Members looked for loopholes in the rule, which was approved in 2005 by all of the league's athletic directors. (Previously, the rule was a one game suspension.) There were none. The consequence was clear: one year suspension of the head coach, forfeit a game, $100 fine.
"The rule isn't can be, may be," said Tim McClain, vice presdient of the youth football league. "It says, 'It is this.'
"It's all about kids playing. One would argue five plays is not enough.
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Other offenses that warrant a year's suspension?
Fighting, coaches grabbing kids, illegal players, doctoring a birth certificate ("Caught one this year," McClain said. "Seriously.")
Those offenses are malicious. That's why Sharon Walker and other Colts parents don't understand the logic behind Miles' punishment.
A few days after the Dolphins filed their complaint, the Colts filed one of its own. Turns out, the Dolphins coach cursed a Colts player.
Armed with their evidence, the Dolphins and the Colts brokered a deal: the Dolphins would keep the win, but Miles suspension would be reduced from one year to three games. And the league would impose a one-game suspension of its own against Dolphins coach David Masuck.
Times researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report.