Thursday, September 18, 2014

Volleyball: Manatee alum Butler doing well at Mars Hill

Former  Manatee volleyball  player Becca Butler has had little trouble finding success at the college level.
A freshman at Mars Hills University, a Division II school in North Carolina,  Butler earned All-Tournament Team honors for her play Saturday during the CSU Cougar Invitational at Columbus State.
Butler, an outside hitter, had 20 kills,  10 digs and eight blocks during the tournament. She is second on the team with 73 kills,  which is also good for 11th in the South Atlantic Conference.
Butler was named The Herald's All-Area Volleyball Player of the Year  in 2013 after helping the Hurricanes win the Class 8A-District 8 title.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Football: Drummonds is back with Manatee

Quarterback Sloan Drummonds has returned to Manatee's  football team.
A transfer from Sebastian River,  Drummonds left the Hurricanes  prior to the start of the regular season. But the senior was on Manatee's  sideline Friday wearing his jersey and a  pair  of shorts, and coach John Booth said Drummonds will suit up next week when Manatee hosts Sarasota.
"It was a mutual thing. It didn't work out where he was going, and he wanted to come back. And it worked out,"  Booth said Friday following Manatee's win over Naples. "It wasn't  a negative thing why they were leaving.  And when they came back we said, 'Yeah,  we'll take you back. No problem,' with certain conditions...He's been great with understanding his role and where he fits in with everything."
Sophomore  A.J. Colagiovanni got the start during the Canes' Kickoff Classic at Tarpon Springs East Lake while Drummonds, who had battled an injury during camp, watched in the sideline from street clothes. He left the team days before Manatee opened the regular season in Ware County, Ga.
Though Drummonds will  be active against the Sailors, Booth said he won't  automatically slide into the starting lineup. Colagiovanni has completed 20  of 41 attempts for 304 yards, and Manatee has utilized running back Johnnie Lang out the  wildcat. The junior has totaled 367 yards on the ground and four touchdowns in the last two weeks.
"A.J.  played well and we've done some different things with Johnnie in the wildcat," Booth said,  "so we're not necessarily next week having (Drummonds) come in and start. But certainly as we move and progress down,  we're trying to find a role and where he can kind of fit in with the offense."

Monday, August 25, 2014

Football: Sloan Drummonds has left Manatee's football team

Sloan Drummonds is no longer with Manatee's football team, said head coach John Booth.
"They decided it was what was best for their family," Booth said Monday. He wasn't sure if Drummonds planned on staying at Manatee.
Drummonds transferred to Manatee from Sebastian River after the spring season and was expected to start at quarterback during his senior year. But he was in street clothes Friday as sophomore A.J. Colagiovanni helped guide Manatee to a 26-17 win over Tarpon Springs East Lake.
After the game, Booth said Colagiovanni was Manatee's starting quarterback heading into the regular season, which gets underway Friday when the Hurricanes play Ware County, Ga., in Valdosta.
Originally from South Carolina, Drummonds also played at Vero Beach in 2012. It appeared he had a lock on Manatee's starting job early in camp, but an injury, coupled with Colagiovanni's progress, led to Booth's decision."It wasn't something I was expecting and you never want to lose anyone from your program," Booth said of Drummonds' leaving. "But we wish him the best and hope things turn out well for him and his family."
Kavious Price, Manatee's quarterback in the spring who went back to his natural position at slot receiver, is the team's back-up. Price will also be used in some wildcat packages, as well.
But Booth said the team is grooming a JV player to serve as Colagiovanni's chief back-up to help free up Price.





Football: Southeast hosts Military Appreciation Night

Southeast will host its first Military Appreciation Night at 7:30 p.m. Friday when the Seminoles play Lakewood Ranch in each season's regular-season football opener.
Admission is free to veterans, who along with local veteran organizations, will be honored during a 7 p.m. ceremony. During the coin toss, members from each branch of the military will serve as honorary captains.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Baseball: Hirst steps down at Bayshore

Ron Hirst has stepped down as Bayshore's baseball coach.
Hoping to land an administrative position, Hirst has taken a dean position at Palmetto.
"That's just how my career was going," Hirst said Tuesday. "It was a tough decision because you love your kids. But I was ready to move into an administrative role."
Hirst was the head coach at Bayshore in 2008 and again from 2011-14, helping the Bruins to two district championships, including last season. He also served as an assistant under Charlie Smythers for three years.
"It was a lot of fun," Hirst said of last year's run. "It was a good group of kids. I enjoyed it."
Though he hopes to climb the administrative ladder, Hirst said he has not closed the door on another coaching gig.
"If the role was right, I would do it it was doable," said Hirst, who coaches at IMG Academy during the summer. "I love coaching. But I'm definitely excited about moving into an administrative role."

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Football: Joe Kinnan to hold press conference Wednesday

Joe Kinnan is ready to talk.
Manatee's former football coach, who announced in June he was taken a medical leave of absence for the 2014-15 school year, will conduct a press conference 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at Bradenton City Hall.
"I will be speaking about my career at Manatee High," Kinnan wrote in an email, "and the allegations made against me by the Manatee County School District."
During an 2012 investigation of former Manatee baseball coach Dwayne Strong, district officials recommended Kinnan, formerly Manatee's athletic director, be suspended for 10 days without pay for failing "to maintain honesty in his professional dealings."
Kinnan resigned as athletic director in early December, roughly two weeks before the district unveiled its findings, and Manatee's athletic program was fined over $13,000 by the Florida High School Athletic Association because of violations committed by Strong and the baseball program.
Kinnan responded with a statement through his attorney at the time, Douglas Peebles, acknowledging that he "could have been more diligent in my oversight and follow through," regarding Strong.
He also added: "However, the allegations and findings contained within the complaint are far overreaching. I cannot abide and cannot more strongly disagree with any allegations or findings which wrongly characterize my conduct as intentional, misleading or dishonest or that may otherwise impugn my integrity."
Citing health reasons, Kinnan, a three-time cancer survivor, did not coach Manatee during the spring football season, which ran through May, but held off on making a decision about whether he would coach in the fall.
On June 20, however, Kinnan, on medical leave since December, announced he would not be coaching Manatee in 2014 and requested a year-long medical leave of absence.
"I would love to continue as the head football coach. However, there are conditions that exist that make that impossible at this time," Kinnan's statement read that day. "The turmoil and uncertainty that exists in the Manatee County School District has impacted my health to the extent that I cannot perform as head football coach at the level of excellence that Manatee players and fans expect and deserve."
District superintendent Rick Mills, who recommended Kinnan's suspension in December, said he was hoping to see Kinnan try and chase down his 300th victory this fall.
"He is a great coach with a great legacy," Mills said June 20.
A nationwide search for Manatee's new football coach yielded 70 applicants, and Jason Montgomery, hired in February to replace Kinnan as the school's athletic director, said he wasn't looking for an interim hire.
"There have been no mixed signals on our end," Montgomery said June 30. "We're looking for a long-term solution."
The choice to replace Kinnan was John Booth, a Manatee alum who played under Kinnan for four years and spent the last five coaching at Valrico Bloomingdale. He makes his coaching debut Aug. 22 when the Hurricanes head to Tarpon Springs East Lake for a Kickoff Classic.
Kinnan won 290 games and five state titles in two separate stints at Manatee and graduated from the school in 1963.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Football: Notes from Week 1 of camp

Made a few stops at area practices this week while working on The Herald's prep football preview edition, which comes out Friday, Aug.29.

Some tibits:

- There's no quarterback battle at Manatee. Sloan Drummonds, who transferred in from Sebastian River, has the starting job, which means Kavious Price returns to his natural position at slot receiver. Price played quarterback during Manatee's spring game against Haines City.
"We Kavious playing quarterback in the spring, that takes a huge weapon out of the receiving corps," said Manatee head coach John Booth. "Now we're able to do some different things in the screen game with him and get him down the field. He's so fast and quick on the cuts, and he has great hands."Booth, who doubles as the Hurricanes' quarterback coach (he earned All-America honors playing the position at MidAmerica Nazarene), is pleased with the progress made by Drummonds, a senior.
"He's been bombarded with a lot of different offenses, a lot of different terminologies. So it's just trying to get him to hone in on what we're doing," Booth said. "But he's a quick learner. We were working with him for about a month before the season started and he picked up the pass game rather quickly."

- As if their rivalry on the field has become heated enough, Manatee and Palmetto are now duking it out in cyberspace.
Well, not really.
Both both schools have developed websites dedicated to prep sports - manateefootball.com and palmettohighsports.com. And both are quite good.
As its title says, Manatee's site is dedicated solely to the school's football program. It includes schedules, bios on all the coaches (updated with John Booth and his twin brother, James, who will serve as offensive coordinator), photos, an up-to-date roster and information on Hawkins Stadium. An injury report and team store are coming soon, according to the site.
Palmetto's site has links to the school's other sports. Understandably, the content revolves around football, and daily practice reports feature interviews with various players and coaches. Following Friday's practices, interviews with head coach Dave Marino, defensive line coach Greg Walls and defensive lineman Brian Bembry were on the site.
Palmetto's games will be streamed live on the site, as well.

- Saint Stephen's will once again be playing an independent football schedule, meaning the school is still a member of the Florida High School Athletic Association but will not compete in a district. Instead, the Falcons will play in the Sunshine State Athletic Conference, which includes 27 teams sliced into two leagues with two divisions each. Saint Stephen's was with the Gulf Atlantic Conference  last season, which merged with the SSAC.
The Falcons are in the Coral League's Bay Division. The conference is six years old, according to its website, and is for FHSAA member schools in Class 3A and 2A that choose to play an independent schedule.
The league's president is Seffner Christian coach Stu Weiss.
"He's a guy who really believes that what we're carving out is something that's needed in the state," said Tod Creneti, whose team went 5-5 playing an independent schedule last year. "Small-school football has just not really been favorably treated by the state. For instance, where we are at the classification cusp of things, it makes it very hard for us to be playing in the 3A district with schools twice our size. So this provides schools with sort of like mission statements to compete with each other."
The site will stream one conference game each week on its website. First up: Saint Stephen's against visiting Spring Hill Bishop McLaughlin on Aug. 29.
The current FHSAA alignment ends after this season. And while Creneti is happy being part of the SSAC, he didn't rule out a return to district football, especially since independent teams cannot compete for state titles.
"We love the conference and I have a lot of respect for the conference," he said, "but depending on how things shake out, you always want to be able to compete for a state championship. And we haven't lost that dream or that goal, that we can be a team that competes on a state level in the not-too-distant future. We want to be able to bring our kids into the first day of camp and say, 'Hey, everything we're doing right now is for a chance to go and play for a state title.' And when we're ready, that's what we want."