Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Crunch time is here

"From now on, it's the playoffs."
These were Joe Kinnan's words after his Manatee Hurricanes defeated Braden River last Friday. And though the head coach was talking about his own team, he was summing up everyone else's situation, as well.
These next few weeks are crucial for area football teams, especially since every team in Manatee County is in the playoff hunt.
Kinnan's Canes, owners of a 6-0 record, are 1-0 in Class 5A-District 10 and host district rival Riverview this week. Then they host Venice in what could be a district title game on Oct. 30 before wrapping their district slate Nov. 6 at North Port.
Southeast takes a 1-0 mark against Class 3A-District 10 opponent against Booker on Friday. The Seminoles have won two straight, including a 33-6 win over Braden River in each team's district opener two weeks ago.
Bayshore is 1-1 in 3A-10 play and faces Englewood Lemon Bay. The loser in that game will need help - each team already has one district loss.
Lakewood Ranch, which didn't sniff the playoffs during last year's 1-9 campaign, hosts powerful Punta Gorda Charlotte on Friday. The Mustangs are 4-3 and 1-0 in 4A-District 11, sharing first place with the Tarpons, who are 6-1 after losing their first game of the season last week to Venice.
Palmetto has turned its season around, having won two of three after starting the season 0-3. The Tigers (2-4) host Port Charlotte in a 4A-11 game, and since both are 0-1 in district play, it's a must-win for either team. A Palmetto win coupled with a Lakewood Ranch loss means the Nov. 6 meeting between the Tigers and Mustangs will come with a playoff berth on the line.
The Tigers have made the playoffs the past two years. Lakewood Ranch hasn't been there since 2006.
But the biggest game this week will be between two of the smaller schools - Bradenton Christian and Out-of-Door Academy. The fledgling programs have one loss between them - BCS is 7-0, ODA is 4-1 - and are the only two 2-0 teams in Class 1B-District 6. The winner will be in prime position to win a district championship, while the losing team will be looking to win out to get into the playoffs.
The Thunder reached the regional playoffs last year. The Panthers have never been there. Both programs were hatched in 2006.
Saint Stephen's, the other local 1B-6 team, salvaged its postseason hopes by beating Moore Haven two weeks ago. The Falcons (3-3, 1-1) travel to district foe Fort Myers Evangelical Christian.

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