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 - and 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."

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Baseball: Catching up with local prospects

Palmetto's Granden Goetzman is playing high Single-A baseball with the Tampa Bay Rays' affiliate in Port Charlotte.
A rundown at how some of the locals are faring in professional baseball:

MICHAEL OHLMAN, LAKEWOOD RANCH: An 11th-round pick of the Baltimore Orioles in 2009, Ohlman is on the organization's 40-man roster and playing with its Double-A team in Bowie, Md. He's hitting .241 in 87 games with the Baysox with 26 RBIs, 21 doubles and two home runs. A catcher, Ohlman has thrown out 27 percent of runners trying to steal.

CORRELLE PRIME, MANATEE: The former Hurricane has found his power stroke with the Colorado Rockies' Single-A team in Asheville, N.C., slugging 16 home runs in 98 games with the first-place Tourists. Prime is tied for third in the South Atlantic League in home runs and second in RBIs (68) while slugging .469. Asheville is 29-10 in the second half and leads the league's South Division by 5 1/2 games.

CORD SANDBERG, MANATEE: Sandberg is hitting .237 with the Philadelphia Phillies' low short-season New York-Penn League team in Williamsport, Pa. He has three home runs, three doubles and three triples with 16 RBIs in 38 games and is 6-for-7 in steal attempts.

MICHAL SUCHY, SOUTHEAST: The area's newest pro after the Pittsburgh Pirates selected him during the fifth round of this year's draft, Suchy is with the Pirates' New York-Penn League team in Jamestown, N.Y. The former Seminole is hitting .241 but has a .345 on-base percentage thanks to his 19 walks and four hit-by-pitches in 38 games. Suchy has no home runs but five doubles and three triples.

GRANDEN GOETZMAN, PALMETTO: Bedeviled by injuries early in his career, Goetzman took advantage of his good health with the Bowling Green Hot Rods, a low Single-A affiliate with the Tampa Bay Rays. Goetzman batted .315 with 31 RBIs and seven home runs and 20 doubles in 60 games at Bowling Green, earning a promotion to the team's high Single-A affiliate in Port Charlotte. Goetzman is hitting .184 in 27 games with the Stone Crabs.

JON  GRIFFIN, LAKEWOOD RANCH: The former Mustang and State College of Florida product made national headlines by hitting four home runs in a game and five in as many at-bats. Playing with the Arizona Diamondbacks' Double-A team in Mobile, Ala., Griffin has hit 14 home runs while batting .236 with 48 RBIs in 88 games.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Football: District breakdowns for 2014

Johnnie Lang (No. 22) and the Manatee Hurricanes will look to repeat as Class 8A-District 7 champions this fall.
Practice for the 2014 prep football season officially begins Monday, Aug. 4 with games beginning Aug. 27.
So here is a look at the districts involving Bradenton area teams. Don't get too attached, though - this is the last of each district's two-year cycle before the Florida High School Athletic Association realigns everything later this school year.

DISTRICT: Class 8A-7
LOCAL: Manatee
OTHERS: Palm Harbor, Sarasota Riverview, St. Petersburg
THE SKINNY: Perhaps you've heard Manatee has a new coach? Former Hurricane John Booth takes over for Joe Kinnan....Manatee hasn't lost a district game since 2008 against Venice. The Indians beat Manatee the next season, but that win was ruled a forfeit in favor of the Hurricanes by the FHSAA...The Rams, who made the playoffs as a runner-up, lost three games, all against playoff teams - Manatee, Venice and Fort Pierce Central in the quarterfinals of the Region 2 tournament...None of the teams had a losing record. The closest was Palm Harbor University, which went 5-5...Manatee's lone home district game is Oct. 17 against St. Petersburg.

DISTRICT: Class 7A-10
LOCALS: Braden River, Lakewood Ranch, Palmetto
OTHERS: North Port, Sarasota
THE SKINNY: Despite tallying a losing record (5-6), Palmetto made the playoffs for the fourth straight season, a program record...The Sailors won their last three district games by a combined 57 points to claim the title, though they'll try to repeat with a new coach as Brian Ryals takes over for Ed Volz. Ryals was Sarasota's offensive coordinator the last three seasons; Volz resigned to spend more time with his family...A year after winning just one game, Braden River finished 5-4 in coach Curt Bradley's second season. The Pirates were the lone district team to defeat Sarasota...After a 2-0 start in district play, Lakewood Ranch lost its final two league games to Palmetto and Sarasota, but beat previously undefeated Port Charlotte in its season finale to finish 5-5...North Port (3-6) was the only team in the district to finish the regular season below .500.

DISTRICT: Class 5A-13
LOCALS: Bayshore, Southeast
OTHERS: Arcadia DeSoto, Booker, Wauchula Hardee
THE SKINNY: Another John takes over for a local legend - John Warren was selected as Southeast's new head coach after Paul Maecthle retired. The Seminoles won Maechtle's final game against Palmetto but finished 3-7 and missed the playoffs...Bayshore went 2-8 under new head coach Elijah Freeman and dropped its final two district games after splitting its first two...Despite leading Booker to the second round of the playoffs, coach Johnnie Jones was dismissed and replaced with former defensive coordinator Recharde Goodwyn...Hardee rolled to the district title, allowing 30 points in its four district games, before losing at Plantation American Heritage in the Region 4 championship game...DeSoto went winless in four district games.

DISTRICT: Class 3A-6
LOCALS: Cardinal Mooney, Out-of-Door Academy
OTHER: Fort Myers Bishop Verot
THE SKINNY: The Cougars won the district last season, defeating Verot 35-10 in what wound up being the championship game...Verot made the playoffs as a runner-up...Bedeviled by injuries and transfers, the Thunder won one game.

DISTRICT: Class 2A-5
LOCAL:  Bradenton Christian
OTHERS: Largo Indian Rocks Christian, St. Petersburg Canterbury, St. Petersburg Keswick Christian, St. Petersburg Northside Christian, Tampa Cambridge, Tampa Carrollwood.
THE SKINNY: The only team located on this side of the Sunshine Skyway, Bradenton Christian finished at .500 (5-5) but went 2-4 against district teams. The Panthers haven't made the playoffs since they began playing football in 2006...Indian Rocks Christan went 6-0 to win the district en route to the state semifinals...Carrollwood Day (5-1) was the runner-up...Five of the district's seven teams finished at .500 or better overall.