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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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Clearwater CC 26, St. Petersburg Catholic 23
By DOUG KATES, Times Correspondent
Published October 13, 2007
ST. PETERSBURG - Jeff Ijjas didn't make a last-second, game-winning field goal to send his teammates into a frenzy, but he did the next best thing.
Ijjas made four field goals Friday night, including a 34-yarder with 2:28 to play, lifting Clearwater Central Catholic (5-2) to a 26-23 victory over St. Petersburg Catholic (1-5).
"Just to be able to go out and finish that win like that feels good," said the senior kicker. "The biggest thing for me is just helping out my team. Those guys are out there hustling all night."
Ijjas missed his first field goal try - a 51-yard attempt - but was 4-for-4 the rest of the way. With 19 seconds remaining in the first half, the Marauders were facing fourth down from the 34-yard line. Most teams may have punted or gone for a first down, but CCC sent Ijjas onto the field and he redeemed himself with a successful 51-yard kick.
"We wanted this bad," Ijjas said. "(The Barons) always come out and play us a good game. Last year, they handed it to us pretty bad. For the seniors, we knew we wanted this game. It meant a lot to us. It's a rivalry."
Ijjas' four field goals was a personal record. He said 51 yards was not a record, but "was up there." He also had a tackle which may have prevented St. Petersburg from returning a kick for a touchdown.
"I'd rather just kick it into the end zone," he said. "I like those better."
CCC led 23-7 early in the third quarter, but the Barons scored 16 unanswered points to tie the game. A.J. Butler had a 7-yard touchdown run and Kevin Tapp completed a 70-yard touchdown pass to Nick Hess.
Ijjas put the Marauders back in front 26-23, and Chris Taylor intercepted a pass with one minute remaining to seal the triumph.
Barons first-year coach Tod Creneti said his team's record does not represent the quality of players on his team, but pointed out CCC has a great football reputation and his kids were up to the test.
"Are there things we can feel good about? Absolutely," Creneti said. "But it's hard to call it a victory, because on the scoreboard they got the best of us."
Anthony Cochran had 131 yards rushing, including a touchdown for CCC. Danny Wood contributed a 30-yard fumble return for a touchdown.
The Marauders had 308 offensive yards, including 13 first downs. The Barons finished with 303 offensive yards, including 11 first downs.