Thursday, November 20, 2014

Football: Vero Beach has a dangerous QB-WR tandem

photo courtesy of Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers
John Booth knows a thing or two about being a prolific quarterback.
In order for his Manatee Hurricanes to reach the Class 8A-Region 2 title game, they need to contain one.
Vero Beach heads to Hawkins Stadium on Friday for a regional semifinal. Leading the way for the Indians is quarterback Carter Stanley, who has thrown for 2,819 yards and 36 touchdowns for the 11-0 Indians, who are looking to reach a regional final for the first time  in 11 years.
Friday's winner plays either Tampa Plant or Orlando Dr.Phillips next Friday for the regional championship and a spot in the final four.
"Really (need to) try to create some pressure with our defensive line on their quarterback," Booth said. "If we let him sit in the pocket and just be comfortable all night, he's good enough to kind of pick you apart and get it to their different weapons."
After graduating from  Manatee in 2000, Booth played at MidAmerica Nazarene, a NAIA school in Kansas, and threw for 4,250 yards and 42 touchdowns to earn All-America honors and a spot in the school's hall of fame.
"So we've got to get pressure on him and collapse that pocket,"   Booth said of Stanley, "and get him to make some errant throws."
Manatee has had success getting pressure on quarterbacks, recording 44 during the regular season, including 21 from end Kwanzi Jackson. Manatee also intercepted 12 passes, and the Canes will call on that secondary to try and quell M.J. McGriff, Stanley's favorite target who has pulled in 97 catches and 20 touchdowns this season.
McGriff has also returned two kickoffs for touchdowns, which means Manatee needs a big night from kicker Nick Null, who has sent 40 of 64 kickoffs into the end zone for a touchback.

"They’ve got a special talent at receiver,"  Booth said. "He can beat you in the screen game, he can get vertical on you. So we have to make sure we stay over the top of him."

Monday, November 17, 2014

Volleyball: Notes and observations from Manatee's state championship

photo by John Lembo
-  If you like close volleyball, Manatee was the team for you. The Hurricanes won their six sets against University and Jupiter by a combined 14 points and allowed 22 points or more in each one. Jupiter actually outscored Manatee 98-93 in the championship  match, which Manatee won 3-1 on the strength of three two-point victories.
- Manatee lost just three sets in seven postseason matches, dropping two to Palm Harbor University in a Region 2 semifinal and another to Jupiter in the championship match.
- If there was an official MVP of the tournament, Haley Coulter would have made a strong candidate. The Tulsa commit had 32 kills and 22 digs in the semifinal  and  final to go along with five blocks. No surprise the junior is up for Player of the Year honors in Class 8A.
- Speaking of awards, Canes coach Tony Cothron has a solid shot of winning the title in Class 8A. Manatee never made it past the regional  semifinals before Cothron showed up and the Canes wound up winning the county's first state volleyball title since Palmetto in 1986.
- The last area volleyball team to reach a state final was  Cardinal  Mooney, a runner-up to  Orlando Bishop  Moore in Class 3A in  2000. Palmetto is the last county team to do so,  falling to Estero in 1988 in the Class 2A final. That capped quite a run for the Tigers, won a state title in '86 and made the final four the following year.
- The Hurricanes had a two-headed set monster in  Kissimmee  as junior Gillian Cassidy and freshman Gabby Coulter teamed for 82 assists in the two matches. They were balanced, too - Coulter had 42, Cassidy had 40.
- How did Manatee win so  many close sets? Success at the service line helped. The Hurricanes totaled 19 aces at Kissimmee, including six from Stefani Keller. (Jupiter and University combined for seven.) A freshman, Keller won the Region 2 championship match at Orlando Timber Creek with an ace to send Manatee to the state semifinals.
- The volleyball team is  Manatee's first indoor team to win a state title since the boys weightlifting team won the Class 4A title in 1990. Nine boys lifters have won individual titles for Manatee. The wrestling team has 16 individual championships but never won the team trophy, finishing second in 1973, 2007 and '09. The girls lifting team crowned a champ in 2004 when Sam DeCristofaro won at 129 pounds.
(Cheerleading is a bit tricky. Manatee has won consecutive state cheer titles but is that considered an inside sport? Discuss.)
- Not a bad year for volleyball  in Sarasota and Manatee counties. Venice and Manatee won state titles and  Lakewood Ranch reached the state semifinals for the second time in three years.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Prep volleyball: Manatee, Orange City University have already met

photo by Timothy R. Wolfrum
Friday marks Manatee's first time playing in a state semifinal though it won't mark the first time the Hurricanes have seen their opponent.
Manatee plays Orange City University at 9 a.m. Friday in a Class 8A state semifinal in Kissimmee less than two months after beating the Titans 2-0 during the Winter Park/Lake Highland Showcase.
The Hurricanes won 25-22, 25-23 on Sept. 13.
"They just know they have to come out and play, and play defense," said Canes coach Tony Cothron. "I think across the board we're more offensive than the other team, but we just need to play defense. If we play defense like we did Saturday (at Orlando Timber Creek in the Region 2 final), it's going to be a short day for us...We didn't play defense very well."
Haley and JoJo Coulter had eight kills each for Manatee against the Titans, who had nine kills from Jenna Talbert.
The defenses matched up well: Manatee had 31 digs, led by Haley Coulter and Jesse Durst, who had 10 each; Rebekah Blunt and Monica Jones had eight apiece for the Titans, who had 29. And Manatee made 12 digging errors to the Titans' 13.
MaxPreps ranks Manatee third in Class 8A while University is fourth, making this an even more of a tougher match to call.
The winner plays either Jupiter or Miami Coral Reef at 11:05 a.m. Saturday for the state championship.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Volleyball: District championship pairings

photo by Paul Videla
Jacqui Armer and Manatee's volleyball team are looking for a second consecutive district title tonight against Palm Harbor University in a Class 8A-District 8 final.
Here are the local pairings for tonight's finals. All teams have qualified for the regional tournament, which gets underway Tuesday (Classes 8A, 6A, 4A, 2A) and Wednesday (7A, 5A, 3A).
Tonight's matches begin at 7 p.m.

Palm Harbor University at Manatee
Sarasota at Lakewood Ranch
Southeast at Gulfport Boca Ciega
Out-of-Door Academy vs. Cardinal Mooney

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Volleyball: District pairings

photo by Tim  Wolfrum
Lakewood  Ranch's volleyball team has reason to celebrate - the  Mustangs are the top seed in next week's Class 7A-District 10 tournament.
Here are the pairings for the tournaments involving area teams. The top two finishers in each district advance to the regional  playoffs, which begin Tuesday, Oct.  28 (Classes 2A,  4A,  6A and 8A) and   Wednesday, Oct.  29 (1A, 3A, 5A, 7A).
Each team's seeds are in parentheses.

(4)  St. Petersburg at (1) Manatee, 7 p.m.
(3) Riverview at (2) Palm Harbor University,  7 p.m.
7 highest remaining seed

(5) Palmetto at (4) North Port, 7 p.m.
Palmetto/North Port at (1) Lakewood Ranch, 7 p.m.
(3) Braden River at (2) Sarasota, 7 p.m.
7 p.m.  at highest remaining seed

(5)   St.  Petersburg Gibbs at (4) St. Petersburg Lakewood, 7 p.m.
Gibbs/Lakewood at (1) Gulfport Boca Ciega,  7  p.m.
(3) Southeast at (2) Bayshore, 7 p.m.
7 p.m. at highest remaining seed

(5) Imagine School of North Port vs. (4) Saint Stephen's, 7 p.m.
Imagine School/Saint Stephen's  vs.  (1) Cardinal Mooney, 5  p.m.
(3) Bradenton Christian vs. (2) Out-of-Door  Academy, 7 p.m.
7 p.m.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Golf: District tournaments

Philip Knowles and Bradenton Christian's boys golf team head to Bent Tree Country Club on Monday for the Class 1A-District 17 golf tournament
Proof the fall season is winding down: The playoffs are upon us beginning with the district golf meets, scheduled for next week at various sites.
The top three teams  in each district advance to regional play and the top three individuals not on regional-qualifying teams advance, as well.
Here is the information involving local  schools.

DISTRICT: Class  3A-District 14
LOCALS: Braden River,  Lakewood Ranch, Manatee
BOYS: 8 a.m.  Monday, Misti Creek Country Club, Sarasota
GIRLS: Noon, Tuesday, Mission Valley  Country Club, Nokomis

DISTRICT: Class  2A-District 19
LOCALS: Bayshore,  Palmetto, Southeast
BOYS and GIRLS: 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, Golf Hammock Golf and Country Club, Sebring

DISTRICT: Class 1A-District 17
LOCALS: Bradenton Christian, Cardinal  Mooney, Out-of-Door Academy,   Saint Stephen's
BOYS:  10 a.m. Monday, Bent Tree Country Club, Sarasota
GIRLS: 11 a.m.    Monday, Tatum Ridge Golf  Links,  Sarasota

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Football: Sloan Drummonds is Manatee's quarterback

A balanced Manatee attack will ease the workload of running back Johnnie Lang
As Manatee approaches the most critical stretch of its schedule, head coach John Booth has decided to put senior Sloan Drummonds under center.
A transfer from Sebastian River, Drummonds has had an eventful year at Manatee, leaving the team after the Kickoff  Classic before  deciding to return.  But his performance Saturday at Southeast, where he threw for 180 yards and three touchdowns while running for another in his Manatee debut, convinced Booth that Drummonds is the best option heading Thursday's Class 8A-Distrit 7 opener at Riverview.
"Sloan did a great job for us in creating some balance in what we were trying to do," Booth said following practice Wednesday.
Drummonds was slowed by an injury over the summer and was replaced by sophomore A.J.  Colagiovanni. But as the season progressed,  Manatee become  more  reliant on running back Johnnie Lang, who leads the area with 765 rushing yards while averaging close  to 30 carries per game lining up mostly in the wildcat.
"We looked at it and said, 'There's no  way we'll be able to run Johnnie like that for the course of the season,'" said Booth, whose brother,  James,  is Manatee's  offensive coordinator. "And we were going to get into some teams that were going to load the box, go cover zero and force Johnnie to throw. So  we're going to have to be able to find  some balance,  and  Sloan  did that for us against Southeast."
Lang will still be used out of the wildcat, however.
"That's  just been so successful for us," Booth said, "so it would be silly to not use that."
Colagiovanni completed 21 of 43 attempts for 307 yards, three interceptions and a touchdown. And Booth praised the sophomore for how he has handled the personnel   shift.
"A.J.'s been, I can't even stress, he's been fantastic," Booth said. "He's been very supportive,  he understands, and we tried to be very honest with him, as well. And he's responded well.  And he's been very supportive of Sloan and he's just a team guy, and he's  looking forward to being whatever role he could  do  for the team this year and improving and building to hopefully where he can get out there and play in the future."
The Hurricanes are 4-1 overall and host Palmetto next week before playing St. Petersburg on Oct.  17 in a key district game in Bradenton. Following a bye week Oct. 24, Manatee closes district play Oct. 31 at Palm Harbor University and wraps the regular season Nov. 7 at Venice.