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Former Ridgewood High football star faces drug charge

The collegiate future of Pasco County's all-time high school football rushing leader appears in serious jeopardy after his cocaine-related arrest Sunday.

Byronell Arline, a 2008 Ridgewood graduate who spent less than a week at a Kansas junior college this summer before returning home, was arrested shortly after midnight Sunday by New Port Richey police on a felony charge of crack cocaine possession.

He was jailed in Land O'Lakes and released on $5,000 bail later that morning. Arline, 18, couldn't be reached Thursday; the most recent cell phone number the Times has for him no longer is in service.

New Port Richey police say Arline was driving on U.S. 19 near Avery Road just after midnight Sunday. An officer pulled him over because the headlights were out on his red 2005 Hyundai.

The officer asked for Arline's license and registration, and something made him want to search the car, which had three other occupants.

"There was sufficient facts and circumstances. He felt an inclination that he wanted to search the vehicle," New Port Richey police Lt. Jeff Harrington said.

Everyone got out, and the officer found two clear baggies wedged between the driver's seat and center console.

They contained a combined 0.2 ounces of crack cocaine, Harrington said.

The other three in the car were not charged, and no other illegal items were found, Harrington said. He did not release their names because they are all younger than 18.

A workhorse on the field at Ridgewood, Arline signed with Dodge City (Kansas) Community College and spent four days there over the summer before returning home.

Only two days after his arrest, Ridgewood coach Chris Taylor told the Times that Arline's prospects of landing with another college appeared good. Taylor said he had been in contact with a Mississippi community college as well as Polk County-based NAIA program Webber International.

On Thursday, Taylor said he had heard Arline got in trouble but "didn't know the intricacies of it," and hadn't been able to reach him. Taylor said he has not seen Arline lately.

"I don't know what all is going on," Taylor said. "I'm sure it's an ongoing investigation. Hopefully he's doing the right things and taking the right steps to make sure his future is still bright and successful."

Arline's father, Calvin Curtis Wood, is serving a 14-year sentence — reduced from a life sentence — in federal prison in Wildwood on charges of intent to distribute narcotics. He's set to be released in January.

"(Arline) has done a lot of good for Ridgewood High School," Taylor said. "I believe wholeheartedly in him. He's a good kid. I'll be here for him and help him in any way I possibly can."

Times staff writer Molly Moorhead contributed to this report.

>>fast facts

About Byronell Arline

At 6 feet, 230 pounds, Byronell Arline was an every-down battering ram at Ridgewood, often making defenders bounce off him like pinballs. He ran for a county-record 5,279 yards for the Rams, guiding them to the Class 4A playoffs as a senior. In his final three varsity seasons, Ridgewood improved from 1-9 to 6-4 to 9-2.

Former Ridgewood High football star faces drug charge 09/25/08 [Last modified: Friday, September 26, 2008 4:43pm]
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