Thursday, October 29, 2009

Blakely will play

Good news for the Manatee Hurricanes - Mike Blakely will play Friday against Venice.
"He's been practicing all week," said coach Joe Kinnan. "He's fine."
The talented running back, who also returns kickoffs, was hit in the head during last week's win over Riverview and was taken to the hospital for check-ups. Blakley had rushed for a touchdown and nearly 140 yards before he left the game in the second quarter.
The winner of tonight's game between the Indians and Hurricanes clinches the Class 5A-District 10 title.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hurricanes are all about now

The Manatee Hurricanes play host to Riverview on Friday night, and according to coach Joe Kinnan, that's all the team is thinking about.
"There are major, major implications for this ballgame," Kinnan said. "We couldn't stress it enough this week."
Manatee is 6-0 overall and 1-0 in Class 5A-District 10. The Rams are 4-2 and 0-1. A win puts Manatee in prime position to claim one of the district's two playoff spots, as well as on the doorstep of the program's first district title since 2006.
"It's a must-win game," Kinnan said. "And it's a must-win game for Riverview."
The Rams were shut out last week by Palmetto, which the Hurricanes beat handily during the second week of the season. Nonetheless, Kinnan said that is the furthest thing from his players' minds.
"I din't think they're underestimating Riverview," he said. "They know how big and strong Riverview is."
Nor is anyone looking toward next week's game against Venice, which could wind up being the district's championship game.
"I don't anybody is looking ahead at all," he said. "It's a focused, one-game season."
Kinnan said junior defensive lineman Drakkar Wilson will return to the fold Friday. Wilson, who had missed two games with an injury, has 16 tackles and one sack this season.
"He's going to play some," Kinnan said.

Falcons looking to finish

Saint Stephen's last football game left coach Stan Brown pleased with the result.
That doesn't mean he was entirely happy.
Saint Stephen's won its first Class 1B-District 6 game Oct. 9 at Moore Haven, where the Falcons scored a 23-20 victory.
All of those points, however, came in the first half.
"That drove me nuts," Brown said. "We watched the film, and it wasn't like we couldn't drive the ball. We'd get inside Moore Haven's 20 and 30..."
...and nothing. So Brown is hoping the Falcons (3-3, 1-1) can do a better job Friday when they continue district play at Fort Myers Evangelical Christian.
"The focus of the past two weeks has been to finish," said Brown, whose team had a bye last week. "That's been our motto."
Brown entered the Moore Haven game planning to use Michael Roberts and Adam Vining at quarterback. But Brown decided to stick with Vining, who led the Falcons to points on their first four possessions.
"I left him in there. It wasn't his fault those other drives stalled," Brown said.
Whomever is under center will be without the services of lineman Michael Depree, one of the captains, who has contracted mono. Brown said he was told Depree, a 6-foot-3, 180-pound senior tackle, will miss six weeks.
"But he lost 20 pounds in a week and a half," Brown said. "I don't see him coming back and playing."
That leaves the Falcons with just five linemen.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Manatee No. 2 on BHSN poll

Manatee has firmly entrenched itself in the No. 2 spot on the Bright House Sports Network football poll.
The Hurricanes have been sandwiched between No. 1 Lakeland (6-0) and No. 3 Tampa Plant (5-1), the latter of which Manatee defeated in the Kickoff Classic, for most of the fall.
Manatee is 6-0 overall and 1-0 in Class 5A-District 10, and faces district foe Riverview 7:30 p.m. Friday at Joe Kinnan Field at Hawkins Stadium.
Southeast's recent two-game winning streak has caught the eye of the pollsters - the Seminoles are one of three teams on the bubble.
Southeast (3-3, 1-0 Class 3A-District 10) heads to Booker on Friday.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Latest win a big boost for Tigers

Palmetto's latest win may have meant nothing in the standings.
But it meant plenty to the guys inside the Tigers' locker room. Palmetto blanked Riverview 10-0 last Friday at Harllee Stadium, giving the Tigers (2-4) an extra shot of momentum heading into Friday's pivotal Class 4A-District 11 game with Port Charlotte.
The Tigers and Pirates are both 0-1 in the four-team district, which means whomever loses Friday's game is wiped out of the playoff hunt.
"Little by little," coach Raymond Woodie said, "it's good to see that it's starting to come together."
Palmetto, which lost 15 starters from last year's team that won a district championship and went to the playoffs for a second straight year, began the season with three straight losses.
Their opponents in those games? Southeast, Manatee and Wauchula Hardee, three teams entering Friday with a combined record of 15-3.
The Tigers have rebounded. They earned their first win of the season Week 4 at Bayshore, played tough against Punta Gorda Charlotte, which was ranked second in the state at the time in Class 4A, and blanked the Class 5A Rams, who averaged 33.8 points in their first five games.
"We have to take one game at a time," Woodie said.
Woodie has commended the work of the offensive and defensive lines for the resurgence, as well as the play of Marquis Green, who began the year at cornerback but is now a full time tailback.
Green ran for 178 yards and a touchdown against the Rams, and has scored five touchdowns in the Tigers' last three games.
"He's really been a spark plug," Woodie said.

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.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

FHSAA Board, gender group agree on settlement

The Florida High School Athletic Association and a gender equity group have settled a lawsuit stemming from the association's attempt to pare down its prep sports schedules.
The agreement includes these points:
- The FHSAA will comply with all state and federal policies applicable state athletic associations, including the Florida Educational Equity Act, the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.
- The FHSAA is prohibited from retaliating against the plaintiffs, their children or anyone else involved with the lawsuit.
- At the FHSAA's representative assembly in January 2010, the association will provide training about the obligations of Title IX and other laws dealing with gender equity. Similar training will be conducted at the next six FHSAA compliance seminars, beginning July 2010.
- The FHSAA will pay the plaintiffs' legal fees of $41,200.
Florida Parents for Athletic Equity was formed when the FHSAA, in an attempt to lessen the financial burdens of its member schools,voted to trim its schedules - 20 percent for varsity sports, 40 percent for sub-varsity sports - with the exclusion of football and competitive cheerleading.
The measure was carried out in April.
The group felt the cuts were biased against female athletes and violated Title IX, as well as state law, and filed a lawsuit in June, as well as a temporary injunction and restraining order.
In July, the FHSAA's board of directors called an emergency meeting and unanimously voted to rescind the cuts, which were referred to as Policy 6.
"It is unfortunate that the situation occurred while trying to help our member schools with the financial crisis they are facing, which inadvertently created an unintentional disparity to our student-athletes," said FHSAA executive director Roger Dearing. "We will continue to focus on providing excellent academic and athletic opportunities for the girls and boys in the state of Florida."

Monday, October 12, 2009

Blakely fielding offers

Mike Blakely is barely halfway done with his junior season.
But the Manatee playmaker has already received Division I scholarship offers from Clemson, USF and Syracuse, though he plans on taking his time before making a decison.
"I'm just waiting, because I'm still young," he said. "Hopefully, more colleges come after me."
Blakely scored three different ways Friday night - he returned a kickoff 91 yards, scored on a four-yard run and caught a 22-yard touchdown pass from Brion Carnes. Manatee defeated Sarasota 35-20 win in its Class 5A-District 10 opener.
While Blakely is keeping his college options open, he said Clemson has been his most impressive suitor thus far.
"Clemson's been showing me a lot of love," he said. "Plus, it's a great atmosphere."

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Canes defense a work in progress

Manatee is heading into its first district game Friday at Sarasota, and coach Joe Kinnan hopes the Hurricanes' new-look defense takes more steps in the right direction.
The Canes ditched the 3-4 they ran last year in exchange for a 4-2-5. Four weeks in, and Kinnan is starting to see improvement.
"This is a little different than what we've been doing, with different fronts and coverages," Kinnan said. "It's a learning experience for our kids as well as our coaching staff."
One change the Canes will make will be at defensive end, where freshman Marquis Dawsey will start Friday against the Sailors.
"The goal is to get the best players out there," Kinnan said.
Everything has gone the right way for Manatee, which is 4-0. But Kinnan knows tonight begins a pivotal stretch for the Hurricanes, who face Class 5A-District 10 opponents in four of their last six games.
"They're starting to understand what we’re trying to get across from them," Kinnan said. "Learning from our mistakes, and trying to improve, is the purpose of what we’re trying to do.

Falcons platooing at QB

Saint Stephen's will be using a two-pronged attack under center, Michael Roberts and Adam Vining taking the snaps, beginning Friday when the Falcons head to Moore Haven for a Class 1B-District 6 game.
"We'll see who wants it," said coach Stan Brown.
Vining started at the beginning of the season, helping Saint Stephen's earn wins against St. Petersburg Shorecrest Prep and Naples First Baptist Academy. But Roberts was inserted midway through the Falcons' Week 4 loss against Bradenton Christian, during which Saint Stephen's threw for 224 yards.
Roberts started last week against Boca Raton Saint Andrew's, throwing for 151 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions. Roberts has thrown for 331 yards this season.
Vining has thrown for 193 yards and has rushed for 151.
"We've given each one a fair share, passing and running," Brown said, adding it will be a game-time decision to see which one starts against Moore Haven.
What Brown does know is the Falcons need a win Friday to stay in the postseason picture - they are 0-1 in district play.
"I told them, this is it. Our playoffs start Friday," Brown said. "Our playoffs don't start (in) November."

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Woodie high on Ackerman

Palmetto defensive back Brian Ackerman played a pivotal role Friday for the Tigers, blocking a punt and returning a fumble 40 yards for a touchdown in a 27-9 win over Bayshore.
It was a solid performance, and one which came as no surprise to coach Raymond Woodie, who watched Ackerman make 21 tackles Week 3 against Wauchula Hardee.
"I expect that from him," he said. "He always has his motor running. In practice, he does a great job. If you practice perfect, things like this will happen in a game for him. And it doesn't surprise me because he works hard."
The Tigers will need Ackerman's motor to be running Friday when they head to Punta Gorda Charlotte for their district opener against Charlotte.
"Hopefully," Woodie said, "that type of energy will feed off the rest of these players. In practice, every heartbeat, you've got to keep it up."

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Palmetto hoping for some momentum

There is no better time than now for Palmetto's football team to snap its skid.
The Tigers take an 0-3 record into Friday's game at Bayshore (2-2), and hope to get into the win column before heading to Punta Gorda Charlotte next week for each team's Class 4A-District 11 opener.
"Obviously, the kids need momentum," said coach Raymond Woodie. "We're looking at this week's game as the most important game on our schedule because it's the next game. It's all about execution. We just need to execute."
The Tigers have struggled offensively, mustering one touchdown and 13 points during their first three games. Of course, their first opponents were Southeast, Manatee and Wauchula Hardee - not exactly a collection of cupcakes.
"A lot of these kids are first year guys, and they understand we've been playing some good teams," Woodie said. "And if you make mistakes, good teams are going to capitalize."
Woodie said Donald Campbell and Rian Kelly, both of whom are seniors, will share the quarterbacking duties. The Tigers have thrown for an area-low 77 yards thus far.
"Hopefully, they’ll click before districts. And that’s the most important – each game, finding improvement," Woodie said. "We don’t want to put too much on them. Just try to keep it simple, and try to catch people off balance and not make many mistakes. When you’re a young team, you can’t make many mistakes, especially when you play a good opponent.
"We’ve just got to keep plugging and keep getting better."

Non-district game means plenty to Canes

There's no comparison between district and non-district football games. District games mean everything - win them and you're in the playoffs.
Win your non-league games and, makes for a nice overall record.
Consequently, Manatee coach Joe Kinnan has had his players focused on winning the county championship, which the Hurricanes can take a step toward clinching Friday at Lakewood Ranch.
Manatee is 3-0, having scored wins over Bayshore, Palmetto and Southeast.
"That's something we set our sights on," he said. "It gives us some extra incentive for those five (non-district) game."
Following Friday's game with the 2-2 Mustangs, Manatee heads to Sarasota for its Class 5A-District 10 opener. The Canes missed the playoffs last year for the first time since 2004.
"We had a very good week of practice last week. We made progress, which is good," Kinnan said, referring to Manatee's bye week. "Now, we're ready to start grinding again."
Lakewood Ranch has already doubled last year's win total and has an improved quarterback in Reggie Lindsey, who has thrown for 519 yards and hasn't been intercepted in 67 attempts.
Kinnan saw Lindsey play twice last season - in a junior-varsity game, and in Manatee and Lakewood Ranch's varsity meeting in Week 10.
"I even made a comment, 'He's better than what they have on the varsity level,'" Kinnan said, who was also quick to refer to the Mustangs' Week 2 win over Southeast.
"It got our players' attention," he said. "We're not overconfident or anything like that. But we're ready to play a game."