Thursday, April 30, 2009

Palmetto standouts

Two of Palmetto’s standout student-athletes made their college choices officials Thursday morning.
Soccer player Bobby Stephenson and quarterback Ethan Gilbert signed, with Stephenson choosing Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona and Gilbert going to Methodist University in Fayetteville, N.C.
Stephenson, The Herald’s All-Area Player of the Year in boys soccer, scored 27 goals in leading the Tigers to district and regional championships. He also helped Palmetto become the first Manatee County area public school to reach the state final four.
Gilbert threw for 17 touchdowns and more than 1,700 yards for Palmetto, which on a district football title for the first time in nearly a decade.
Stephenson and Gilbert have grade-point averages better than 4.0.
“They are two models of the program,” said Raymond Woodie, Palmetto’s athletic director and football coach.
Stephenson and Gilbert ARE good models for high school sports. Stephenson, armed with a 4.2 GPA, hopes to one day work for NASA.
"He's a great character kid," said John Haworth, an assistant soccer coach at Embry-Riddle. "We think he has a great future of front of him."
Gilbert is a study of perseverance. Playing behind Bryan Smith for two seasons, Gilbert soaked up all the information he could, got better and led Palmetto to a district title for a first time in a roughly a decade.
Gilbert formed great relationships with receivers such as Trey Yarn and Damian Copeland, giving Palmetto one of the area's best air attacks.
Stephenson and Gilbert have solid futures in front of them and are solid representatives of Manatee County athletics.
We can only hope there are more them coming down the pike.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Leasure time

Manatee's spring is getting better and better.
A night after the school's softball team clinched a berth in the 5A-Region 3 semifinals, the baseball team upset top-seeded Port Charlotte 4-3 in the semifinals of the Class 5A-District 12 tournament Wednesday afternoon.
The hero was Steven Leasure, who allowed an earned run in eight-plus innings in outpitching Pirates stud David Holmberg, who is on his way to Florida and entered the game with a 7-0 record and a 0.14 ERA.
Manatee plays either Punta Gorda Charlotte or North Port 7 p.m. Thursday in the district championship game. The Hurricanes also clinched a spot in the regional tournament for the first time since 2002.
Regional playoffs begin Tuesday.
For more on Leasure's gem and Manatee's win, check out

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Regional softball results

Manatee is moving on.
Braden River and Bradenton Christian are not.
The Hurricanes defeated Seminole 6-3 during Tuesday's Class 5A-Region 3 quarterfinals behind the pitching of Carloine Curran, who struck out eight and stranded eight baserunners over the final four innings.
Tura Magley drove in three runs and Shelby Knox doubled, tripled and had an RBI for Manatee (24-4), which heads to Venice on 7 p.m. Friday for a regional semifinal.
Braden River, the only area softball team to win a district title, lost 13-3 to Bartow in the Class 4A-Region 3 quarterfinals.
Bradenton Christian fell 9-1 to St.Petersburg during a a Class 1A-Region 3 quarterfinal.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Hurricanes ready to rebound

If John Carlock had his way, a bus would be rumbling its way out of Pinellas County on Tuesday on its way to G.T. Bray.
Instead, Carlock and the rest of Manatee's softball team will be doing the traveling, heading to Seminole for a Class 5A-Region 3 quarterfinal game at 7 p.m.
The Canes (23-4) are looking to put Friday's 1-0 loss to Venice in the District 12 championship behind them, and Carlock was pleased with what he saw during Monday's practice.
"Everybody seems in good spirits," he said.
Seminole (14-10) defeated Seminole Osceola to win the District 11 championship.
"We win (Tuesday)," Carlock said, "or we don't practice Wednesday."
Tuesday's winners advance to Friday's regional semifinal, where the Hurricanes could see the Indians again. Venice hosts Seminole Osceola in the quarterfinals.
Manatee swept Venice during the regular season before the Indians won the title tilt behind pitcher Stephanie Sullivan, who struck out 13 and limited Manatee to three hits.
Carlock knows his girls want to see Venice again - but they have to get there first.
"We tried to focus on this game," Carlock said of Monday's practice. "Whenever somebody brought (Venice) up, we shuffled it to the side and talked about something else."

FHSAA's board reduces amount of varsity games

The Florida High School Athletic Association’s board of directors is cutting schedules in order to cut costs.
By a vote of 9-6, the association’s board Monday decided to reduce the amount of varsity games in all sports — except for football — by 20 percent for the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years. Sub-varsity games will be slashed by 40 percent.
Sports that were allotted 25 regular-season games — baseball, basketball, soccer and volleyball — can now play no more than 20. Tennis and wrestling have been trimmed from 18 to 15 games, golf will be cut from 14 to 12 matches, and cross country, swimming and diving, track and field and weightlifting will be limited to 11 events after being permitted to play 13.
“I’m very frustrated,” said Southeast girls basketball coach John Harder, “and very, very disappointed.”
The reason for the reduction, according to a statement on the association’s Web site, was to lessen the operating costs of high school athletic departments.
“People are losing their jobs as schools are cutting millions and millions of dollars from their budgets. Our jobs is to look out for all the schools,” said Greg Zornes, president of the FHSAA board of directors, said in the statement.
Harder, however, would rather see athletic departments be permitted to police their own finances instead of seeing the FHSAA’s board uniformly chop five games off everyone’s schedule. He was also upset the association didn’t get any input from coaches or players around the state.
“There’s no survey, no involvement from the coaches. You don’t feel as if you have a say,” Harder said. “We could always play less games. Now, you can’t play enough.”
Less games on the schedule means less flexibility for coaches. Bradenton Christian’s boys team, for example, will play 10 games — or 50 percent of its schedule — against the Panthers’ five Class 1A-District 8 opponents, limiting the amount of non-district games coach David Magley can schedule.
“We played nearly every team in the county this year, and they were great games,” Magley said. “And you could feel some rivalries building. Now, that’s gone. And it’s very disappointing.”
Magley and Harder said limiting games limits the amount attention players can get from colleges.
“My guys are trying to go to college,” Magley said. “They just got 20 percent less of a chance to play in front of a college coach.”
Manatee’s softball team was expecting to play in a tournament next spring and host one, as well. Coach John Carlock doesn’t see that happening now.
“It really limits what you can do in the season,” said Carlock, whose Hurricanes head to Seminole tonight for a Class 5A-Region 3 quarterfinal game. “We always enjoy going out and playing different teams.
“The whole scenario is ludicrous. I’m vehemently opposed to it. What are they trying to save, and why don’t they do it for football? I think it’s going to send a lot of people packing and heading toward travel ball.”
The reduction is to last just two years, according to Zornes.
“That’s it — we really mean two years,” he said. “We fully intend to restore what he had until (Monday) at the end of the two-year period.”
Harder hopes the board sticks to that promise and doesn’t go in the other direction.
“That’s my next fear — that it’s 18 (games), then 16 and then, why play?” he said. “This is isn’t enough for me to be discouraged by the FHSAA. Everybody is allowed to have a miscue. This, to me, is a mistake, and hopefully this can be rectified at some point.”

Regional softball

Then there were three...

Regional softball kicks off Tuesday, with Bradenton Christian, Braden River and Manatee springing into action. The Pirates won the district title and get to stay home, while the Panthers and Hurricanes have to hit the road.

The pairings:
5A-Region 3 - Manatee (23-4) at Seminole (14-10), 7 p.m.
4A-Region 3 - Bartow (23-3) at Braden River (21-5), 7 p.m.
1A-Region 3 - Bradenton Christian (13-6) at St. Petersburg Canterbury (18-6), 4 p.m.

Winners advance to Friday's regional semifinals...

Friday, April 24, 2009

Ranch's tennis appeal denied

The Florida High School Athletic Association on Friday upheld Naples Barron Collier’s win over Lakewood Ranch during Thursday’s Class 3A-Region 6 boys tennis final.
The Mustangs filed a protest in regards to the eligibility of Barron Collier’s Bjorn Frantagelo, who competed at No. 1 doubles Thursday.
“We accept the FHSAA’s decision,” said Lakewood Ranch coach Ed Bongart. “What I was told was even though Barron Collier had some errors on their entry sheet, those errors were not significant enough or big enough to warrant changing the decision of the match.”
Frantangelo was not present during Barron Collier’s district tournament, and could have been eligible to compete in regional play if he was listed on the entry list as an alternate. But Bongart said Barron Colliers’s coaches told him Frantangelo was listed at playing No. 1 doubles on the entry sheet, and since he didn’t compete at district, should have been prohibited from playing the remainder of the postseason.
Thursday, Frantangelo and his partner, Brett Clark, won their No. 1 doubles match in straight sets to help Barron Collier beat Lakewood Ranch 4-3 after the Mustangs won three of five singles matches. The Cougars will head to next week’s Class 3A state tournament.
The Mustangs went 19-1 this season and won a district championship.
“We’ll have to look forward to next year,” Bongart said, “and remember the nice season that we had.”

District baseball pairings

Proof the prep season is almost over?
The district baseball pairings are out, bringing us one step closer to capping the 2008-09 school year. Here they are:

Class 5A-District 12 at North Port
Monday - Port Charlotte vs. Southeast, 4 p.m.; North Port vs. Bayshore, 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday - Manatee vs. Venice, 4 p.m.; Lakewood Ranch vs. Punta Gorda Charlotte, 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday - North Port/Bayshore vs. Lakewood Ranch/Punta Gorda Charlotte, 4 p.m.; Manatee/Venice vs. Port Charlotte/Southeast, 7:30 p.m. (If still alive, North Port will play 7:30 game.)
Thursday - Championship, 7 p.m.

Class 4A-District 10 at Sebring
Tuesday - Palmetto vs. Avon Park, 7 p.m.
Thursday - Braden River vs. Wauchula Hardee/Arcadia DeSoto, 4 p.m.; Palmetto/Avon Park vs. Sebring/Booker, 7 p.m.
Friday - Championship, 7 p.m.

Class 2A-District 11 at St. Petersburg Northside Christian
Tuesday - Saint Stephen's vs. St. Petersburg Shorecrest, 4 p.m.
Thursday - Championship, 7 p.m.

Class 1A-District 12 Tournament at Sarasota Christian
Tuesday - Bradenton Christian vs. Out-of-Door Academy, 4 p.m.; Manatee HEAT vs. Sarasota Christian, 7 p.m.
Thursday - Championship, 7 p.m.

The top two teams from each district advance to the regional tournament, which begins Tuesday, May 5.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


What is the name? What is the gist?

This is John Lembo, prep sports writer, and these questions were passed my way when I asked the folks at The Bradenton Herald for my very own blog. My answers were simple - 1) Prep Rally, and 2)committed 100 percent to high school sports in the area.

That's what this blog is about...high school sports. Nothing but. We have baseball blogs and outdoors blogs. Fishing blogs and fantasy blogs. Community blogs and military blogs.

Now, we have one all about student-athletes. Look here for news on everything preps, from player commitments to the latest on what's happening with the Florida High School Athletic Association up in Gainesville to the latest district postseason schedules. You'll find it here.

Coaches quotes, player bios, weekly recaps. You'll find it here.

So welcome aboard! Prep Rally is up and running...