Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Noles, Tigers lose at Willie Clemons

Palmetto and Southeast lost in the semifinals of the Willie Clemons Classic on Tuesday at Southeast.

The Tigers fell 35-28 to Riverview in the semis of the Sunrise Division and the host Seminoles lost in double overtime to Seminole 52-50 in the semis of the Sunset Division.

Palmetto faces Lakeland Kathleen 1:30 p.m. Wednesday for the Sunrise's consolation title. Southeast meets Jupiter at 3 p.m. for the Sunset consolation championship.

The Rams meet Venice for the Sunrise Division championship at 4:30, and the Warriors play Tampa Catholic, the Class 3A defending champion, at 6 p.m. in the Sunset Division final.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Willie Clemons Classic - Sunrise results

Here are the results for the Sunrise Division of this morning's Willie Clemons Classic girls basketball tournament at Southeast.

Riverview 42, Lakewood Ranch 36
Palmetto 39, North Port 35
Venice 41, Braden River 31
Lakeland Kathleen 34, New Port Richey Mitchell 33

Tuesday's Sunrise Schedule
Semifinals — Riverview vs. Palmetto, 3 p.m.; Venice vs. Lakeland Kathleen, 4:30 p.m.
Consolation round — Lakewood Ranch vs. North Port, 9 a.m.; Braden River vs. New Port Richey Mitchell, 10:30 a.m.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Willie Clemons Classic schedule is here

Southeast will play host to the Willie Clemons Girls Holiday Basketball Classic, which runs from Dec. 27-29.
The 16-team tournament will once again be separated into Sunrise and Sunset brackets. The championship games are scheduled for Wednesday, with the Sunrise final slated for 4:30 p.m. and the Sunset one scheduled for 6 p.m.
Monday's first round matchups are listed below with area teams in bold.

Lakewood Ranch vs. Riverview, 9 a.m.
Palmetto vs. North Port, 10:30 a.m.
Braden River vs. Venice, noon
Lakeland Kathleen vs. Mitchell, 1:30 p.m.

Tampa Catholic vs. Englewood Lemon Bay, 3 p.m.
Manatee vs. Jupiter, 4:30 p.m.
Southeast vs. Dunedin, 6 p.m.
Charlotte vs. Seminole, 7:30 p.m.

Smoothie King Classic schedule is here

(logo from wikipedia)

Bradenton Christian's Smoothie King Classic, a 16-team girls and boys basketball tournament, runs from Dec. 28 to Dec. 30 at BCS.
Each team is guaranteed three games. The finals will be played Thursday, with the girls championship slated for 6:30 p.m. and the boys scheduled to go at 8 p.m.
The Panthers won the girls and boys tournaments last year.
Here are the first-round matchups with the area teams in bold.

GIRLS, 12/28
Bayshore vs. Crystal River, 12:30 p.m.
Tampa Alonso vs. Arcadia DeSoto, 3:30 p.m.
Hawthorne vs. Seven River Christian, 6:30 p.m.
Cardinal Mooney vs. Bradenton Christian, 8 p.m.

BOYS, 12/28
Palmetto vs. Braden River, 11 a.m.
Lakewood Ranch vs. Gulf, 2 p.m.
Bayshore vs. Pinellas Park, 5 p.m.
Ilion, N.Y. vs. Bradenton Christian, 9:30 p.m.

Manatee finishes 32nd in Rivals poll; 26th by ESPN

(Map from

Manatee finished the season ranked 32nd in the nation in the RivalsHigh 100.
"The Hurricane season ended with a disappointing loss in its Class 5A semifinal to St. Thomas Aquinas," reads the capsule. "Injuries derailed what could have been, but the season was still very good for a team that entered with a lot of question marks."
The Hurricanes, who were ranked 43rd entering the week, finished 13-1.
ESPNRise, which ranked Manatee as high as second for most of the year, placed them at No. 26 in its final poll.
Aquinas, which defeated Tampa Plant on Friday in the Class 5A state final to win the program's sixth state championship, is Rivals' national runner-up.
Aquinas was ranked first, however, by ESPNRise
South Panola, located in Batesville, Mississippi, finished the year ranked first by Rivals and USA Today, which ranked Aquinas third.
Manatee finished out of USA Today's final top 25 rankings.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Conboy Award gaining cred

The Tony Conboy award has only been in existence three years. But it is gaining quite the pedigree.
Named after Tony Conboy, a longtime local sports writer for The Herald before he passed away in 2008, the award is handed out annually to Manatee County's best senior football player as voted by coaches, media and a member of the community.
This year it went to Mike Blakely (above), Manatee's running back who is headed to Florida.
Last year's winner, Manatee quarterback Brion Carnes, signed with Nebraska.
And the first player to win the award, Palmetto defensive back Kedric Johnson in '08, went to Florida.
That's three awards for three players who each went to BCS conference schools. In other words, next year's winner, whomever it may be, will find himself in good company.
And that's the mark of a good award.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Manatee plummets in ESPNRise

Manatee's loss to Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas on Friday dropped the Hurricanes 30 spots in the ESPNRise rankings.
Slotted at No.2 for most of the fall, the Hurricanes are now 32. The Raiders, who defeated Manatee 31-7 in a Class 5A state semifinal and play for the state title Friday against defending champion Tampa Plant, are second, jetting up three spots.
Plant, which lost to Manatee in a preseason Kickoff Classic broadcast live on ESPN, is 47th after entering the week unranked. The Panthers rolled through Lakeland, 48-6, in Friday's other semifinal and are looking for their third straight state championship and fourth in five years.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

PAL Bowl slated for Jan. 14

(Image from Facebook)

The 19th Brad Price Memorial PAL Bowl, pitting the best senior football players from Manatee County against their counterparts from Sarasota, is slated for 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 14 at Lakewood Ranch.

Listed below are the area rosters:

Bayshore - Tim Finklea, FB/LB; Nick Blackwell, LB; Mike Lintz, OL; Nick Lucey, OL; Wendell Williamson, OL;.
Braden River - Dipo Kolawale, RB/WR: Javier Baity, RB/TE; Keith Grafton, LB; Dakota Wilson, OL/DL; Dillon Romine, OL; Kadin Kerns,K.
Bradenton Christian - R.J. Schooler, RB; Sean McCarthy, QB/DB; Austin Dumas, K/P.
Lakewood Ranch - Reggie Lindsey, QB/WR; Taryn Laws, RB; Anthony Asay, DB; Harrison Skokos, RB; Josh Nauman, OL; Daniel Clifford, WR; Will Pilkington, TE.
Manatee - Chris Pompey, DL; Mike Blakely, RB; Quenton Bundrage, WR; Brandon Kull, TE; Nick Galati, OL; Prince Matt, OL; Will Beasley, OL; Drakkar Wilson, DL; Quinton Pompey, DL.
Palmetto - Chris Calloway, DB; Melvin Burston, QB; Marquis Green, RB/DB; Shaquille Mays, DB; Joey Dunlap, OL; Jadarian Smith, OL.
Saint Stephen's - Cole Misztak, LB; Jeremy Perron, QB.
Southeast - Bo Brand, WR; Dyron Speight, QB; Calvin Williams, DB; Jared Williams, RB; Reggie White, LB; Terran Williams, LB; Cameron Cox, OL/DL; Patrick Broder, OL.

Cardinal Mooney - Alex Nugent, QB/DB; Peter Lange, C/DL; Mike Howard, OL; Cesar Yalul, TE/DE.
Out-of-Door Academy - Ryan Kaminski, LB/TE; Jake Siciliano, LB/TE; Jordan Burr, OL/DL; Chris Ragone, WR/DB.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

FHSAA announces new tentative football districts

(Logo from wikipedia)

The Florida High School Athletic Association released the district football alignments for the 2011 and '12 school years.

These are tentative, and schools have until Friday, Jan. 7 to file an appeal.

The FHSAA will announce reclassifications for its other sports Monday.

Listed below are the district involving local teams:

Class 7A-District 10 (population 1,926-2,300)

Braden River, Manatee, Sarasota and Venice

Class 6A-District 10 (pop. 1,581-1925)

Lakewood Ranch, Palmetto, Bartow, Winter Haven, Lakeland Kathleen, Lakeland Lake Gibson

Class 5A-District 10 (pop. 1,100-1,580)

Bayshore, Southeast, Arcadia DeSoto, Englewood Lemon Bay, Wauchula Hardee

Class 3A-District 6 (pop. 281-690)

Cardinal Mooney, Fort Meade, Frostproof, Lakeland Christian

Class 2A Urban-District 6 (pop. 47-280)

Bradenton Christian, Out-of-Door Academy, Saint Stephen's, Community School of Naples, Fort Myers Evangelical Christian, Moore Haven, Naples First Baptist, Naples St. John Neumann, Southwest Florida Christian.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Manatee vs. Aquinas, Part IV

(Aquinas logo from

For the fourth time since 2005, Manatee and Ft. Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas will duke it out in a Class 5A state semifinal.
The two teams, both 13-0 and ranked No.1 and 2, respectively, in Class 5A, meet 7:30 p.m. Friday at Brian Piccolo Stadium in Fort Lauderdale.
Here is a list of the previous three meetings:
2009: Manatee 28, St. Thomas Aquinas 20
2006: St. Thomas Aquinas 36, Manatee 29, 2 OT
2005: St. Thomas Aquinas 45, Manatee 17

The winner faces either Lakeland or Tampa Plant for the Class 5A state championship Dec. 17 at the Florida Citrus Bowl.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Undefeated and on the road?

(Image from

Why is Manatee, 12-0 and ranked first in the state in Class 5A, forced to travel for Friday's Region 3 championship game while Palm Bay Bayside, which has lost three times this season, gets to stay home?
No real reason. That's just the way it worked out.
Forget about the rankings and records - when it comes to deciding who goes where in the prep playoffs, those things don't mean anything.
OK, the records mean something in the first round, or quarterfinals, when a champion from one district hosts a runner-up from another.
But that is the last time a team controls its own travel log, which is why Manatee hosted St. Thomas Aquinas in last year's state semifinal even though Aquinas had won 37 straight games and consecutive state titles.
This year, in Class 5A, the Florida High School Athletic Association ruled before the season started that the school on the bottom of the bracket is the host school in the regional semifinals, or second round, with the exception being if a runner-up advances and plays a district champion.
In that case, the district champ hosts, regardless of the which end of the bracket each team resides.
Still with me?
The bottom-of-the-bracket rule holds true in the regional final. And as you can see here, Manatee sits on the top of the bracket.
Bayside sits on the bottom.
(Southeast has been handed the same fate, and will play for the Class 3A-Region 3 championship Friday at South Fort Myers).
Now, if you look at the rest of the Class 5A bracket, you will notice Tampa Plant is hosting Countryside, even though Plant is on top and both teams won their district.
Why? Well, it's another exception to the earlier rule - if the school on the bottom was home during the first two rounds, and the school on top traveled for either of the first two rounds, then the team on top gets to host.
Everybody got that?
Finally, why is Manatee traveling for a second year in a row? Last year, if you remember, the Hurricanes were the runner-up out of District 10 and Palm Bay was a district champ.
Had both teams been champions, last year's regional final would have been in Bradenton.
And oh, before you ask, Friday's winner is on the road for next week's state semifinal - Regions 2 and 4 play hosts in Classes 5A, 3A, 1A and 1B.
Again, that's just the way it worked out.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Varsity Blues vs. All The Right Moves

(Images from

It may not be one of the world's greatest debates, but it's still fun to compare 1983's All The Right Moves and 1999's Varsity Blues.
Both tackle the world of high school football - the former takes place in a Pennsylvania steel town, the latter in rural Texas - and neither are based on a Pulitzer Prize winning novel, unlike 2004's Friday Night Lights.
So which is better? Well, let's take a gander.
(And before you question my credentials as a movie critic, I own both.)

The Hero - Both films earn kudos in this category. VB's Jon Moxon (James Van Der Beek) and ATRM's Stefan Djordjevic (Tom Cruise, back when he was, you know, normal) are unconventional football leads. Moxon is a back-up QB who reads Slaughterhouse-Five on the sideline and has no plans of playing football at Brown University, which has given our lad an academic scholarship. Djordjevic is a undersized cornerback - how many movies focus on the defensive backs? - who hopes to play ball in college while studying engineering. Neither of these guys wants to play in the NFL (Djordevic even laughs at a college coach who broaches the topic) which is refreshing, and neither date the captain of the cheerleading team.
(Moxon even turns her in a down in a classic scene not fit for a family-friend blog such as Prep Rally.)
Edge: All The Right Moves. You have to love a movie whose hero mans the defensive side of the ball.

The Coach - Other than his memorable cameo on Seinfeld (the scene of him biting Kramer's arm is one for the time capsule), Jon Voight owes the second wave of his career to his turn as Bud Kilmer, VB's monstrous football coach. But that's the problem - Kilmer is TOO monstrous. He rarely smiles, forces his players to play through life-threatening injuries and looks the other way when his star wide receiver drunkenly steals a police car. Sorry, but this wouldn't fly in the politically-correct 1990s, and even if it did, his players would have rebelled years ago. This was the 90s, folks, when your kids started to get some edge, (Thanks, Pearl Jam.), and would only take so much Kilmer's barking. On the flip side, Craig T. Nelson - before he landed another coaching gig - is believable as Nickerson, leader of ATRM's Ampipe Bulldogs. He's a stern piledriver, but he also has a wife and family. He wants to get out of town as much as his players do, giving him and the teenagers sort of a perverse bond. Nickerson becomes the heavy as the film develops, but a heavy with good reason.
Edge: All The Right Moves. Voight has a lot of fun chomping on the scenery, but Nelson wouldn't look out of place standing on a sideline in Anytown, U.S.A.

The Big Game - This is where ATRM takes a huge lead. Not only is the game entertaining to watch, but it reeks of realism. It doesn't hurt that Cruise played ball in high school and looks very belivable returning a pick six. But the best part is it happens in the OPENING THIRD of the movie! Yes, a sports movie that doesn't lead into The Big Game. Instead, it gets The Big Game out of the way, and deals with the aftermath.
(And like I said, the game is a keeper, especially its wrenching ending.)
And this is where VB becomes like every other jock flick - it comes down to the final play of the season, and we know who is going to win and how they are going to win, and just how they are going to celebrate. That said, it speaks volumes about VB that even though we know where it's going, we hang on for the ride anyway. And it is a lot of fun getting there.
Edge: ATRM. Watch the game and tell me you don't feel as if you can hear the band and smell the burgers.

The Look - ATRM takes place in Ampipe, a fictional steel town where the sun never shines and every pracice is conducted amidst a cold rain. You can't blame any of the players and coaches for wanting to escape. Parties take place in modest row homes and the locals hang out in a smokey watering hole replete with pool tables. It's gritty and it's real.
VB is the brainchild of MTV Films, and it looks like it. The cast is full of pretty people, the soundtrack features 90s acts such as Fastball and Collective Soul, and the whole thing has a slickness to it. That said, it gets a lot right, from the dads who spend their Saturday mornings watching practice to the former football players who can't stop reliving their glory days of yore.
Edge A push. ATRM looks more authentic, but VB looks like it is supposed to look.

Well, you know where I stand - it's All The Right Moves in a landslide. Both movies, however, are top-notch popcorn entertainment. And take it from someone who has spent over decade covering high school football in three different states - both films get it right, which is what makes them so fun to watch.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Next up: Region 3 finals

Manatee and Southeast will be playing for regional titles next week.
The Hurricanes defeated Venice 41-28 in a Class 5A-Region 3 semifinal and the Seminoles beat Winter Haven 21-20 in double overtime in a Class 3A-Region 3 semifinal Friday, sending both on the road next week.
In a rematch of last year's Region 3 championship game, Manatee (12-0) heads to Palm Bay to face Bayside (9-3).
The Seminoles (10-2) plays South Fort Myers (12-0) for the Region 3 title.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Winter sports worth watching

(Logo by

Football is still the talk of the town with two of Bradenton's most storied programs, Manatee and Southeast, hosting regional semifinals Friday night.
But winter sports are up and running. Here's a sampling of some interesting action coming our way:

Dec. 2 - It's a district soccer doubleheader at Manatee, where the boys host Naples Gulf Coast at 5:30 and the girls teams meet at 7:30. Both sets of Hurricanes have been solid - the boys entered Day 2 of the Sarasota Thankgsiving Invitaional with a 5-0 record, while the girls are 5-0-2 under new coach George Ameras. But this double dip marks the district opener for both teams, and that's when the games begin to count.

Dec. 7 - Palmetto lost a large chunk of the group that helped the Tigers to four straight regional finals and back-to-back appearances in the state final four. At 8 p.m. tonight, the Tigers try to maintain their hold as the area's steadiest boys soccer program when they host district foe Braden River in a district match that could have a say in who plays where come the postseason.

Dec. 10 - Saint Stephen's heads to Out-of-Door Academy for a boys soccer game - the rivals' first meeting since the Thunder won last year's Class 2A-District 10 title at the Falcons' expense. It was the Thunder's first district championship.

That it's for now - just a little sampling to whet your appetite. Basketball fans and wrestling fans, fear not - we will get to you.

Just keep checking out Prep Rally.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Canes' Pompey out for the year

(Photo by

Quinton Pompey, a defensive lineman and one of the leaders of Manatee's football team, is out for the season after undergoing knee surgery Monday to repair a torn meniscus.
Pompey suffered the injury during the first quarter of last week's Class 5A-Region 3 quarterfinal against St. Petersburg Northeast.
Pompey's teammate, close friend and fellow lineman, Drakkar Wilson, endured the same injury Friday and also had surgery done Monday.
"It's about his future now," said Steve Gulash, Manatee's defensive line coach said of Pompey.
Dr. Daniel Lamar, an orthopedic surgeon who also works with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and is a Manatee alum, peformed the sugery. He told Gulash that instead of removing Pompey's meniscus, he could repair it, allowing Pompey to make a full recovery.
That means the Hurricanes (11-0) will be without Pompey for the remainder of the postseason, beginning with Friday's Region 3 semifinal against Venice. Pompey finishes the year with 62 tackles and 11 sacks.
Wilson may be able to return in two weeks, Gulash said.
"That's a matter of 100 percent, because they both have futures," he said. "We have capable kids that have worked just as hard ready to step in."

FHSAA's board makes two big changes

The Florida High School Athletic Association's board of directors approved the creation of a rural classification and the addition of another classification for select team sports during Monday's meeting in Gainesville.
A rural classification has been designated for most team sports, and will be called 1A rural and 1A urban for football and rural for other sanctioned sports.
In order for a school to be declared 1A rural for football and rural for other sports, enrollment will be between 44 and 600 students.
Schools declared 1A urban will have between 47 and 280 students, and the FHSAA will unveil tentative districts in December.
Six-class sports baseball, basketball, softball and girls volleyball will now feature a Class 7A classification for schools with enrollment of 2,260 or more students.
Girls and boys soccer, which does not feature a Class 1A classification, added Class 7A as its sixth classification.
“When the FHSAA originally went up to six classifications in team sports in 1999, we had 517 member schools, with 480 of those playing team sports. Now that we have 670 member schools and 650 of those in team sports, the number of teams in individual districts is too large,” Roger Dearing, the FHSAA's executive director, said in a release on the association's website.

Listed below are classifications, broken down by population:

Football Classes
1A Rural (36 schools) 44-600
1A Urban (48 schools) 47-280
2B (42 schools) 281-690
2A (42 schools) 691-1,099
3A (84 schools) 1,100-1,580
4A (84 schools) 1,581-1,925
5A (82 schools) 1,926-2,300
6A (81 schools) 2,301+

All others
7A 2,260+
6A 1,892-2,259
5A 1,599-1,891
4A 1,217-1,598
3A 525-1,216
2A 162-524 (soccer begins here)
1A 18-161
Rural 44-600

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Surgery Monday for Canes' Wilson and Pompey

Manatee defensive linemen Drakkar Wilson and Quinton Pompey each have a meniscus tear in a knee and will undergo surgery Monday, said Hurricanes defensive line coach Steve Gulash.
Both are expected to miss two weeks, including Friday's regional semifinal against Venice.
Wilson and Pompey, who underwent MRIs Saturday, went down on separate plays during the first quarter of Friday's Class 5A-Region 3 quarterfinal against St. Petersburg Northeast.
Pompey and Wilson teamed for over 20 sacks during the regular season and have drawn interest for a number of Division I schools.
Friday, Manatee filled the voids with a rotation of linemen that included Derrick Calloway and James Robinson. Blake Keller and Kelvin Carter are also options, Gulash said.
"All my kids are able to play," Gulash said, "and be a factor."
Manatee (11-0) host the Indians (8-3) 7:30 p.m. Friday, with the winner advancing to to the Region 3 final against either Lake Worth Community School or Palm Bay Bayside.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Football: Regional semifinal pairings

...And then there were two.
Manatee and Southeast picked up wins Friday, with the Hurricanes burying St. Petersburg Northeast 35-13 in a 5A-Region 3 quarterfinal, and the Seminoles scoring a dramatic 21-20 win over Lake Wales in a 3A-Region 3 quarterfinal.
So, here are the semifinal matchups:
5A-Region 3: Venice (8-3) at Manatee (11-0), 7:30 p.m.
3A-Region 3: Winter Haven (10-1) at Southeast (9-2), 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Beef O'Brady's show heads to Bradenton

(Logo from

The Beef O'Brady's Scoreboard Show is broadcasting live at the 5942 34th St. West location in Bradenton following Friday's Class 3A-Region 3 game between host Southeast and Lake Wales.
The show runs from 10 p.m. to midnight, and will feature scores from all of the state's playoff games.
The show can be heard on on WSRQ 1220-AM and 106.9 FM, and WZZS 106.9 FM in Zolfo Springs and WWBA-820 AM in Tampa/St. Petersburg.

Manatee County: Land of dual-meet tournaments

(Logo from

Five of the six public schools will host dual-meet tournaments this season, beginning with Bayshore's Dimond Duals on Saturday.
Braden River and Southeast join the Bruins, along with Booker,Venice, Riverview and Englewood Lemon Bay. Wrestling begins at 9 a.m.
Manatee's Coach Kelly Memorial Hurricane Team Challenge, which typically takes place on a Saturday, has been slated for 4 p.m. Friday, Jan. 7.
Riverview, Palm Harbor, Miami Sunset, Largo, Lakeland, Jupiter, Gateway, Durant, Bloomingdale and Citrus are scheduled to come to Bradenton.
The following day, Jan. 8, offers a pair of tournaments. The Southeast Duals, which start at 9 a.m., includes Bayshore, Braden River, Venice, Celebration, Seminole Osceola and Seminole.
And Lakewood Ranch offers the Mustang Duals, beginning at 8. Clearwater, Rockledge, East Lake and Sunlake are currently on the docket.
Palmetto hosts the Tiger Duals on Saturday, Jan. 15 at 9 a.m. Bayshore, Braden River and Southeast are expected to attend, along with Tampa Riverview, Lennard, Cape Coral Ida Baker, Brooksville Hernando, Tampa Jesuit and Booker.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Coach Sandberg credits Manatee's depth

(Photo taken by

Chuck Sandberg calls it The Next Guy.
"That means when you go in next," said Sandberg, who coaches Manatee's receivers, "we don't really skip a beat that much."
If The Next Guy was a stat, the Hurricanes may be leading the entire state.
How else can you explain the 10-0 record and No.1 ranking in Class 5A Manatee takes into Friday's Region 3 quarterfinal against St. Petersburg Northeast?
The team's talented quartet of skill players - Mike Blakely, Quenton Bundrage, Cord Sandberg and Anthony Lauro - haven't been on the field together since the Sept. 17 game against Southeast, with Blakely, Bundrage and Lauro shelved by an assortment of injuries.
Chuck Sandberg, now in his 25th year coaching at Manatee, puts some of the credit on the team's deep pool of wide receivers, namely Terry Evans, Ryan Taylor, Todd Johnson and Brandon Kull (pictured above).
"All those guys, I can't tell them enough how much I love them, how much they've done great for us," Chuck said. "I can't go into words."
Lauro returned last week against Booker, but hadn't played since Week 3 against Southeast. Blakely, a running back headed to Florida next year, hurt his ankle two weeks later against Sarasota and didn't play in Manatee's final two games of the reguar season.
Bundrage, who carried more than his share of the slack with Blakely out, hurt his knee early in the game against North Port on Nov. 5 and didn't play last week.
Cue the bench. Kull's 24 catches are second on the team behind Bundrage (52), and he has been Cord's top option on the shovel pass.
Evans has 22 catches, Taylor has 14 and Johnson has blocked well. He also has a pair of catches, including one for a touchdown.
The four have teamed for 62 receptions and four touchdowns.
"The number of reps they've got in the last seven games, they've gotten better," Chuck Sandberg said. "When you have game experience, there's no substitute for that. And they've gotten better."
Make no mistake - Chuck Sandberg is happy to have the exciting Lauro back in the fold.
He just has a spot in his heart for The Next Guy. And rightfully so.
"They've done a great, great job. And we can win with those guys," Chuck Sandberg said.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Canes, Noles make final AP Poll

Manatee and Southeast were the area's lone district football champions this fall. So it's fitting the rivals ended the regular season ranked in the top of their respective classifications by The Associated Press.
The Hurricanes (10-0) held on to the top spot in Class 5A, totaling 136 points to beat out runner-up Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquians (129).
Manatee had 10 first-place votes while the Raiders had four.
The Canes tied Aquinas for first two weeks ago and took over sole possession last week. They host St. Petersburg Northeast in a Region 3 quarterfinal Friday.
The Seminoles (8-2) finally cracked the top 10 after closing the season on a six-game winning streak. Southeast is tied for 10th in Class 3A with Miami Belen Jesuit.
Lake Wales, which is ranked ninth, visits John Kiker Memorial Stadium on Friday for a Region 3 opener.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The 1st Annual Lemmy Awards

Welcome friends, foes and everyone else to the 1st Annual Lemmy Awards here on Prep Rally!
Before we go forward, please keep these points in mind:
- These will have no bearing on The Herald's All-Area Football Team, which will be unveiled after the season is over. That team, as well as the Player of the Year, is decided by Herald staffers with input from the area's 10 coaches.
The Lemmy Awards are one man's opinion, with that man being me.
- These are just for fun. No trophies, plaques or jackets - just something to chew on before the playoffs begin Friday.
- Agree? Disagree? Shoot me an email at
And now, the awards...

Most Valuable Player - Cord Sandberg, Manatee.The Hurricanes are 10-0 for the first time in 20 years and have usurped Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas at No. 1 in the Class 5A state rankings. And they have accomplished that even though superstar Mike Blakely has missed most of the second half of the season with ankle injuries.
A big reason is Sandberg, who has thrown for 2,088 yards and has rushed for 488. Though he is just a sophomore, Sandberg has been asked to do more than just make decisions - the Hurricanes have put many games in his hands, such as the 24-7 win over Venice that clinched Manatee's first district title since 2006.
Sandberg and the rest of the Canes will be tested during the playoffs, and the team's defense has been as good as advertised this fall. But it's hard to imagine Manatee being this successful without the precocious Sandberg pulling the trigger.
HONORABLE MENTION: Brian Poole, Southeast; Taryn Laws, Lakewoood Ranch; Quenton Bundrage, Manatee.

Coach of the Year - Dave Marino, Palmetto (above); Don Purvis, Braden River. I'm not usually a fan of splitting awards, but Marino and Purvis have done solid jobs during their Manatee County head-coaching debuts.
Marino has led the Tigers through a rough start and a tidal wave of injuries right into the Class 4A-Region 3 playoffs. And by beating Purvis' Pirates last week, Palmetto has assured itself of a winning season - a fine accomplishment for a team that was 2-4.
Purvis, who was Raymond Woodie's assistant at Bayshore in 2003, reminded his team after an ugly 0-3 start that only district games mattered. The Pirates listened, and despite the absence of a passing game and a defense gutted by graduation, clinched their third straight playoff berth.
HONORABLE MENTION: Shawn Trent, Lakewood Ranch; Joe Kinnan, Manatee; Paul Maechtle, Southeast.

Game of the Year - Palmetto at Lakewood Ranch, Nov. 2 Southeast and Manatee added another classic to a rivalry full of them, but the Tigers-Mustangs tilt in east Manatee County was a win-or-stay-home game for the final playoff spot in Class 4A-District 11.
It featured a little bit of everything - a deflection that turned into a touchdown; the surprise return of Mustangs QB Reggie Lindsey; the arrival of Palmetto RB De'Quan Reddick; the emergence of Palmetto's defense, finally healthy; and the Tigers scoring a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns, compliments of Reddick, and recording a 28-14 win, earning a trip to Cape Coral for a regional quarterfinal.
HONORABLE MENTION: Manatee at Southeast, Sept. 17.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ranch girls ranked first in the state

Lakewood Ranch's girls cross country heads into Friday's Class 3A-Region 3 meet ranked first in the state in Class 3A by
Tallahassee Chiles, which beat the Mustangs in last year's state meet, is ranked second.
Today's Class 3A regional girls meet is scheduled for 9:50 a.m. Friday at Estero Community Park.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Manatee's Blakely an All-America

Manatee running back Mike Blakely has been selected for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, and will be honored when the bowl's selection tour stops by Hawkins Stadium prior to Friday night's game.
Blakely will be officially given his jersey at 7:15 p.m., 15 minutes before the Canes host Booker in their regular-season finale.
Blakely is one of 90 players picked for the bowl, which will air live on NBC at noon Saturday, Jan. 8 from the Alamodome.
Blakely verbally committed to Florida late last month. Despite being slowed this season by injuries to both ankles, Blakely is sixth in the area in rushing (649 yards) and third in scoring (15 touchdowns, 90 points).
He sat out last week's game against North Port and is not expected to play Friday against the Tornadoes.
The Hurricanes host St. Petersburg Northeast in a Class 5A-Region 3 quarterfinal Nov. 19.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Volleyball - Regional semifinal pairings

Four area teams are in action during Tuesday's regional volleyball semifinals, with matches scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.
Winners head to Saturday's regional finals.
Here are the semifinal matchups:

Class 4A-Region 3
Lutz Steinbrenner at Braden River
Class 3A-Region 3
Southeast at Fort Myers Bishop Verot
Class 2A-Region 3
Saint Stephen's at Fort Myers Evangelical Christian
Class 1A-Region 2
Seffner Christian at Bradenton Christian

Football playoff pairings

The road to Orlando begins in two weeks when the regional football playoffs begin.
Here is a look at the area matchups.

Class 5A-Region 3
St. Petersburg Northeast at Manatee
Class 4A-Region 3
Palmetto at Cape Coral
Class 3A-Region 3
Lake Wales at Southeast
Braden River at Winter Haven
Class 1B-Region 3
Out-of-Door Academy at Lakeland Victory Christian

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Manatee's Bundrage has been huge

Manatee has a wealth of talent on both sides of the ball, befitting for a team ranked first in the state in Class 5A - along with Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquians - and second in the nation by ESPN Rise.
Few players have been as key as senior Quenton Bundrage. Ranked second in the area in receptions (51), Bundrage has used his legs and hands to help compensate for the loss of star running back Mike Blakely, who has been hampered the past four games with ankle injuries.
In Friday's win over Venice, which clinced the District 10 title for Manatee, Bundrage carried the ball twice for 13 yards, and garnered eight catches for 145 yards and two touchdowns.
"We know that Mike is a big part of our offense," Bundrage said. "A lot of guys - not just me - we have to step up and fill in spots and just keep playing hard."
Bundrage's one-handed touchdown grab in the final minute of the first half last week all but sealed the game for the Canes, though his contributions have stretched far beyond his play against the Indians.
He has eight touchdowns in the last five games, piling up 679 yards of offense along the way.
Consequently, Manatee takes an 8-0 record into Friday's home game with North Port.
"He's had to pick it," said coach Joe Kinnan.
Bundrage has. And the Hurricanes couldn't be happier.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Garofalo happy for Seminoles

Southeast's volleyball team won its first district championship last week. And few are happier for the Seminoles than their former coach.
Carmine Garofalo won 66 games in five years at Southeast prior to stepping down after the 2008 season. Now the head coach at State College of Florida, Garofalo credits the program he used to call his own.
"They have obviously worked hard, and for them to actually win the first district championship, it was very exciting and rewarding," he said. "It's a terrific school, and they've done a great job there. The athletes are committed and they are working hard."
Garofalo is in his first year running the Manatees, and has made it his priority to lure local talent to the community college. This year's roster, for example, boasts area prep stars such as Sarah Geraldson (Bradenton Christian) and Natalie Gaudreau (Venice).
"I would definitely love to see some of those athletes here," Garofalo said. "They're terrific - not only athletes, but human beings, that would fit well with our philosophy."
The Seminoles hosts LaBelle on 7 p.m. Wednesday in a Class 3A-Region 3 quarterfinal.
Meanwhile, Garofalo has made an immediate splash with the Manatees, who won the Suncoast Conference title this year and head to Winter Haven on Thursday for the first round of the FCCAA Region 8 State Tournament.
SCF faces St. Petersburg College on 10 a.m. in the first round.
"We're kind of in the same boat at the same time," Garofalo said, referring to the Seminoles and Manatees. "It's kind of interesting."

Monday, November 1, 2010

Canes tie Aquinas in state poll

Guess it isn't always lonely at the top.
Manatee has tied Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquians at No. 1 in Class 5A in The Associated Press' state football poll.
Each team received six first-place votes and 114 points.
The Hurricanes, 8-0, won their first district title in four years Friday with a 24-7 win at Venice. They finish the regular season with home games against North Port and Booker, and will host the runner up from District 9 in a Region 3 quarterfinal Nov. 19.
It's the first time since 2006 that the Canes open the playoffs at home.
No other area teams cracked the state poll, though Southeast received three votes in the Class 3A rankings.

Meyer: Dowling off UF football team

Florida coach Urban Meyer announced during Monday's press conference that Southeast alum Jonathan Dowling is no longer with the team for a violation of team rules.
One of the most hotly-recruited players in high school, Dowling is a freshman safety at Florida. He broke the program record for interceptions (15) at Southeast during his junior season.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Top 10 scariest mascots

In the spirit of Halloween, the folks at Maxpreps have listed the top 10 scariest high school mascots.
No Hurricanes, Seminoles or Tiger here. But this list is good for a fright or two.
(Or 10, if your fear threshold is as small as mine.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Manatee's Blakely to get some rest

Having already clinched the Class 5A-District 10 title and a home game for the first round of the Region 3 playoffs, Manatee will close out the regular season with the intent of getting Mike Blakely healthy.
Hobbled by a pair of ankle injuries, the Hurricanes' star running back has been limited to 26 carries over the past four games, and was used mostly as a decoy during Friday's district-clinching win at Venice.
It was the first game this season Blakely, who committed to Florida last Tuesday, didn't have a hand in any of Manatee's touchdowns.
"We're going to get him well. He probably won't play next week," said Manatee coach Joe Kinnan. "When he gets to be 100 percent, we'll play him again."
Blakely hasn't been at 100 percent since suffering a tendon injury Oct. 8 against Sarasota, and clearly wasn't himself Friday, when he managed four yards on six carries and was walking gingerly during pre-game warmups.
"He gave a valiant effort and tried to do it, but he was at about 60 percent," Kinnan said. "And we were selective on where we played him."
The Canes close out the district schedule Friday against visiting North Port and host
Booker in the regular-season finale Nov. 12.
The playoffs begin Nov. 19, with Manatee hosting the District 9 runner-up.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Regional volleyball pairings

Regional volleyball pairings:
(All games at 7 p.m.)
Class 4A, Tuesday
Dover Strawberry Crest at Braden River
Palmetto at Lutz Steinbrenner
Class 3A, Wednesday
Labelle at Southeast
Cardinal Mooney at Fort Myers Bishop Verot
Class 2A, Tuesday
St. Petersburg Canterbury at Saint Stephen's,
Class 1A, Wendesday
Lakeland Sonrise Christian at Bradenton Christian

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Blakely hopeful for Friday's game

With his long-awaited college decision now made public, Manatee running back Mike Blakely has turned his focus to the classroom and the Hurricanes' chase of another trip to the Class 5A state final.
A pair of ankle injuries have limited him to 20 carries over the past three weeks, though he hopes he can be ready when Manatee heads to Venice on Friday for a game that will decide the Class 5A-District 10 title.
Blakely, who rolled an ankle three weeks ago against Sarasota and sprained his other ankle last week against Riverview, said he walked through practice Monday.
"It should be all right," he said. "It should be good to go come Friday."
With a win, Manatee (7-0, 2-0) not only wins the district, but assures itself of a first-round home game. Consequently, the hope is that Blakely can make it through the Venice game and then take it easy while Manatee plays out the rest of the regular season with two games against North Port and Booker, neither of which will have any bearing on the Hurricanes' postseason.
"He's got to be ready to go and play the best he can, because if we can win the game...we can let him heal up whatever he needs to heal up," said coach Joe Kinnan. "Hopefully, he can be close to 100 percent by Friday."
Manatee has been able to thrive without a healthy Blakely thanks in part to the play of quarterback Cord Sandberg and wide receiver Quenton Bundrage, as well as a defense that limited the Rams to a pair of field goals last week at the Ram Bowl.
"The last two games, he's actually played really sparingly. We've got some other people and we've learned to adapt," Kinnan said. "We've got a couple of little wrinkles that we haven't shown yet, so we've got some other things that we can do. But we're certainly a much better football team when he's at full speed."

Marino wants Tigers to win smarter

Palmetto's win at Port Charlotte on Friday sets up a scenario similar to last season - the Tigers will face Lakewood Ranch in two weeks to decide Class 4A-District 11's final playoff spot.
The victory was dramatic - the Tigers beat the Pirates 31-27 on quarterback Melvin Burston's 3-yard run with just over 34 seconds left in the game.
Consequently, coach Dave Marino appreciated his team's grit. However, he knew that had the Tigers done a few things differently, the game never would have been that close.
"Early on, we had our chances to knock them out and really take control of the game," he said. "And we didn't."
One play in particular involved junior running back De'Quan Reddick, who had the ball stripped from him by a Port Charlotte defender late in the fourth quarter. The Pirates returned the fumble to Palmetto's 2 and took a 27-24 lead with 4:13 remaining.
Reddick's run, which went for 21 yards, was impressive, especially toward the end, when he dragged a handful of Port Charlotte players over the 50-yard line.
Marino, however, wished Reddick would have simply settled for the first down.
"You're in (a) five-minute offense. He should have went down. He got the first down, just go down. Slide," he said. "The extra two yards you're going to get doesn't matter...(The) clock's our enemy. We go over those things. But that's the problem when you have a young team - you have to continue to teach them how to win football games.
"They won with heart. I want them to win with their brains a little bit more."
But Palmetto did win, improving its overall record to 3-4 and its district mark to 1-1. The Tigers head to East Manatee County in two weeks to battle a Mustangs team that, similar to Palmetto, has had to battle through a litany of injuries this fall.
First, however, comes Friday's non-district game at Naples Gulf Coast, where Marino hopes the Tigers can iron out some bugs.
"We've just got to keep taking advantage of our opportunities every week to get better," he said. "Port Charlotte's out, so now there's two left standing. So (the Lakewood Ranch) game is going to be like this, but times 10. We've got to be ready for that. So we have to use (Friday) to get ready for that and prepare for that opportunity."

Monday, October 25, 2010

Blakely's announcement set for 9 a.m. Tuesday

Manatee High running back Mike Blakely will make his college decision public during a 9 a.m. news conference Tuesday in the high school’s administrative conference room, according to a news release issued by Hurricanes football coach and athletic director Joe Kinnan.
Following Friday’s win at the Ram Bowl, Blakely said he would make his verbal commitment Tuesday, but didn’t say where or at what time.
One of the most sought-after recruits in the country, Blakely has netted approximately 40 Division I scholarship offers, but earlier this season said he had narrowed his choices to Auburn, Florida and South Carolina.
He took an official visit to Auburn last month and was in Gainesville when the Gators played LSU on Oct. 9.
Florida coach Urban Meyer was on Manatee’s sideline during Friday’s game at Riverview.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Manatee tumbles in USA Today poll

The Hurricanes haven't lost a game this year, but that hasn't impressed the voters on the USA Today Super 25 Boys Varsity Football Standings.
Manatee fell from fifth to ninth in this week's poll.
They are the second-highest ranked Florida team on the poll behind Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquians, which is ranked sixth.
The Hurricanes remain entrenched in the No. 2 spot on ESPN Rise, and remained fourth in the Beef O'Brady's Top 25.

Many volleyball teams staying close to home

The district volleyball playoffs begin next week, and many of the area's teams won't have to worry about long bus rides.
Manatee hosts Port Charlotte 6 p.m. Monday in a Class 5A-District 10 quarterfinal match, with the winner headed to top-seeded Venice on Tuesday.
Southeast hosts the Class 3A-District 11 tournament, beginning 6 p.m. Tuesday when top-seeded Cardinal Mooney plays either Wauchula Hardee or Booker, and the second-seeded Noles face No.3 Arcadia DeSoto at 7:30 p.m.
The winners meet 7 p.m. Thursday for the championship.
Saint Stephen's welcomes the Class 2A-District 11 playoffs to Hoagland Arena, and will face Out-of-Door Academy 6 p.m. Tuesday in a semifinal.
In the night's other match, top-seeded St. Petersburg Northside Christian plays either St. Petersburg Admiral Farraguy or Shorecrest at 7:30 p.m.
Similar to last season, the Class 4A-District 10 tournament will be played at various sites, with the higer seed playing host.
The tournament begins Tuesday when Bayshore visits Lakewood Ranch, and Seminole Osceola heads to Palmetto. Both matches begin at 7 p.m.
Braden River, the defending district champion the No. 1 seed, hosts either Bayshore or Lakewood Ranch 7 p.m. Wednesday. If Palmetto defeats Osceola, the Tigers play either St. Petersburg Dixie Hollins or St. Petersburg Lakewood 7 p.m. Wednesday at a site to be determined.
Bradenton Christian heads to Tampa Bayshore Christian for the Class 1A-District 8 meet.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Blakely a maybe against Braden River

Manatee coach Joe Kinnan said Mike Blakely's availability will be a game-time decision for the Hurricanes' game at Braden River on Friday.
One of the most highly-touted running backs in the nation, Blakely rolled his ankle in the first quarter last week against Sarasota and was limited to two carries and two receptions - though he did score a touchdown in the Hurricanes' 45-10 win.
Kinnan's caution makes sense. While Manatee wants to keep its perfect season intact, the team also needs Blakely healthy for the next two weeks against Class 5A-District 10 foes Riverview and Venice.
Manatee has not won a district title since 2006, but advanced to the state title game last year after clinching the district's No.2 seed.
In Blakely's absence last week, quarterback Cord Sandberg rushed for 89 yards, and Manatee also got 21 yards on seven carries from Antonio Agurs.
Kinnan said defensive back Clinton Heaven (jaw) and receiver Anthony Lauro (knee) are out this week, but junior strong safety Hershel Caywood, who had 10 tackles, a sack and recorded a safety in Manatee's first two games, practiced this week.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

District golf begins next week

The fall postseason is upon us, beginning Monday when the area's golf teams start swinging toward the state tournament.
On the boys side, Bayshore, Braden River, Lakewood Ranch, Manatee and Palmetto compete in the Class 2A-District 14 meet 9 a.m. Monday at Kinsgway Country Club in Charlotte County.
On Tuesday, Bradenton Christian, Cardinal Mooney, Out-of-Door Academy, Saint Stephen's and Southeast tee up 10 a.m. at River Wilderness in the Class 1A-District 16 championship.
All 10 girls teams play Monday. Bayshore, Braden River, Lakewood Ranch, Manatee and Palmetto meet up in the 2A-14 meet 8:30 a.m. at Deep Creek Country Club.
Cardinal Mooney, Out-of-Door Academy, Saint Stephen's and Southeast head to Placid Lakes Country Club for the 1A-16 meet, which tees off at 11 a.m.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

New date for county swim meet

The date of the Manatee County swim meet has been switched to Tuesday, Oct. 19 and Wednesday, Oct. 20 at G.T. Bray.
Diving preliminaries will take place on the first day and competition begins 3 p.m. Wednesday.
Bayshore, Braden River, Bradenton Christian, Lakewood Ranch, Manatee, Saint Stephen's and Southeast will be competing.
The meet was originally scheduled for this Tuesday and Wednesday.

Monday, October 4, 2010

No Manatee shakeups in polls

Manatee's 34-7 win over Lakewood Ranch on Friday kept the Hurricanes just where they were in a pair of national polls.
The Hurricanes (4-0) are still ranked second by ESPN Rise and fifth by USA Today, and moved up one spot to No.32 on
Manatee opens Class 5A-District 10 action Friday when the Hurricanes host Sarasota, which is 1-0 in district play after blanking North Port two weeks ago.

Hall of Fame Darling

Manatee cross country coach Rae Ann Darling Reed has never had much trouble getting through to her runners.
She has even more credibility now.
Reed was in inducted into the Monson High School (Massachusettes) Athletic Hall of Fame over the weekend. A 1991 alum of the high school, Reed ran cross country and track and Monson.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pirates volleyball in prime position

Braden River's volleyball team is on track to win another district championship.
Following Tuesday night's win over Palmetto, the Pirates are 12-1 overall and most importantly, 4-0 in Class 4A-District 10.
They have two more district games remaining, against St. Petersburg Dixie Hollins and Seminole Osceola, and can clinch the coveted No.1 seed. That would ensure Braden River of not only a first-round bye, but a district semifinal game at home and the possibility of hosting the title game, as well.
Braden River clinched the tournament's top seed last season en route to winning the program's first district title. The Pirates were also home throughout the regional playoffs, as well.
"We started off very slow at the beginning of the season," said coach Steven Haugh, who said his team turned a corner when they swept Lakewood Ranch earlier this season. "I think it really changed their confidence."
The Pirates will be in action this weekend in the county tournament at Bayshore.

Rankings don't rattle Kinnan

Armed with a 3-0 start and a convincing win over Tampa Plant in a Kickoff Classic, Manatee finds itself on a number of national prep football polls.
It just doesn't find itself in the same place on any of them.
The Hurricanes are ranked second by ESPN Rise and fifth by USA Today - but 33rd by
None of this means much to coach Joe Kinnan, however.
"I don't even know what we are," he said. "You just keep winning, and it just takes care of itself at the end."
Rankings mean little when it comes to what happens on a Friday night. Just ask the Canes, who were unranked heading into last year's Class 5A state final four and defeated Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas, ranked No.1 in the nation at the time.
"You go 15-0, and it will take care of itself. You don't, and you're not a top-10 team," Kinnan said. "If you can't win 15 games, you probably don't deserve to be in the top 10."
Manatee was idle last week and hosts Lakewood Ranch on Friday before beginning Class 5A-District 10 play Oct.8 against visiting Sarasota. The Hurricanes are still a bit banged up - defensive back Clinton Heaven (jaw) and wide receiver Anthony Lauro (knee) will not play Friday - but district play is what they are working toward, especially since Manatee hasn't won a district title since 2006.
"We broke this season down into a preseason, where we've got some really good people that we're going to play against," Kinnan said. "This is the district season. We've got to prepare ourselves."

County volleyball tourney this weekend

Bayshore will host the Manatee County volleyball tournament, which gets underway around 3:30 p.m. Friday and resumes 8 a.m. Saturday.
Pool A will consist of defending county champion Bradenton Christian, Bayshore, Manatee and Southeast.
Pool B features Saint Stephen's, Braden River, Lakewood Ranch and Palmetto.
The finals are scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Auburn earns rave reviews from Mike Blakely

Auburn didn't dent its chances of successfully courting Mike Blakely this weekend.
Blakley, Manatee's highly-touted running back, took an official visit to the school this weekend, and considers the Tigers his co-favorites - along with the Florida Gators.
"It was real fun," Blakely said Tuesday evening."Stayed at a nice hotel..I hung out with the players Friday and Saturday, and got to talk to the coaches in between that.
"It's (Auburn) and Florida at the top of my list."
Blakley also took in Auburn's 37-25 win over South Carolina, which improved the Tigers to 4-0 overall and 2-0 in the Southeastern Conference. Auburn is ranked 10th by Associated Press and 11th in USA Today.
Former Hurricane Ace Sanders is a freshman receiver for the Gamecocks.
"I got to see him," Blakely said, "but I didn't get to talk to him."
Blakley has rushed for 437 yards and nine touchdowns for 3-0 Manatee, which hosts Lakewood Ranch on Friday. He has earned around 40 Division I offers, but earlier this season said he is looking to play in the SEC.
Blakely said he hasn't scheduled any other official visits yet but may visit Gainesville on Oct. 9 when the Gators host LSU.

Hurricanes hold steady, fall a bit

The voters of ESPN RISE have kept Manatee entrenched in the No. 2 on the weekly poll.
The Hurricanes were idle last week and remain seven points behind Euless, Texas and one point ahead of Grant High from Sacramento, California.
Manatee is also second in the state in Class 5A, right behind Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas. The Raiders earned six first-place votes to the Canes' four.
Rivals, however, dropped Manatee three more slots to No. 33.
The Hurricanes (3-0) host Lakewood Ranch (3-1) on Friday.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Manatee tumbles in Rivals rankings

Despite a 3-0 record, Manatee isn't winning in an impressive enough fashion for the folks at
The Hurricanes fell 23 places in the latest RivalsHigh 100 rankings and are now 30th.
"Manatee has had two unspectacular performances in a row, dropping the Hurricanes in both Florida and national rankings," the website reads. "This week, the team trailed 24-7 at half before fighting back to win, 31-24, against Southeast. A rivalry game? Yes. A good performance? No."
The team Manatee knocked of in a Class 5A state semifinal last year, Fort Laurderdale St. Thomas Aquinas, is going the opposite direction, jumping from No. 32 to No. 6, making the Raiders the poll's top-ranked Florida team.
Not everyone shared Rivals' sentiment. ESPN RISE kept Manatee at No. 2, and Manatee fell just one spot to No.5 in USA Today's top 25.
The Hurricanes are the top-ranked team in Florida in both polls.
What does this all mean? Nothing, really. Manatee's important stretch of season doesn't begin until Oct. 8, when the Hurricanes host Sarasota in a 5A-District 10 opener.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A learning experience for Manatee

In an attempt to rectify his team's present, Joe Kinnan referred to the past.
The Hurricanes were down by 17 at the half to Southeast on Friday, and Kinnan, Manatee's head coach, dialed into last year's Class 5A state final against Tampa Plant.
The Hurricanes trailed 21-0 at halftime before falling 21-14 to the Panthers last December.
"This exactly what you did against Plant. But we're only down (17) instead of 21," Kinnan told his players at halftime Friday at Southeast. "So let's come back and let's play Manatee football."
The Hurricanes did, rallying for 24 unanswered points en route to a 31-24 win.
Manatee hadn't been pushed this season until the Seminoles marched into the half with a 24-7.
Heading into a bye week, Kinnan hopes Manatee can learn something from the win.
"You've got to come ready to play," he said.

Will Noles get national love?

Southeast didn't get the upset it wanted Friday night, falling 31-24 to Manatee despite leading by 17 at the half.
But the Seminoles should earn some national respect.
Southeast entered the night unranked in any major national polls - USA Today, ESPN RISE, Maxpreps, etc. - but stood toe-to-toe and went blow-for-blow with a Hurricanes team ranked fourth by USA Today, second by ESPN RISE and fifth by Maxpreps.
That should earn the Noles some modicum of national praise. Southeast is a Class 2A team competing in Class 3A, and Friday, the Seminoles gave Manatee more of a fight than two of the Hurricanes' previously-touted opponents - Tampa Plant and Woodland Hills, Pa.
Manatee is 5A.
The Hurricanes know all about the power of one big week - they were unranked heading into last year's state semifinal against Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas, the top-ranked team in the country at the time.
Manatee won and found itself in Rivals' top 30 the following week, and there is no doubt they rode momentum into this year's preseason polls.
Southeast didn't win Friday. But the Seminoles showed they could hang with one of the best in the nation.
For that, they deserve some love.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Manatee rise on ESPN, USA Today polls, dip on Maxpreps

Manatee's 56-36 on Friday over Palmetto was enough to impress ESPN RISE and USA Today - but didn't have a similar effect on the folks at Maxpreps.
The Hurricanes hopped a spot to No. 2 on ESPN RISE's Fab 50, putting them behind only Trinity out of Euless, Texas. Manatee has 243 points to 250 for Trinity, which received first-place votes from all five of the poll's panelists.
Manatee also moved up a spot in USA Today's Super 25, sitting at No.4.
Maxpreps, however, had a different opinion, bumping the Canes down two spots to No.5 on its Xcellent 25.
According to Maxpreps, Manatee's star fell a bit in part because Woodland Hills, Pa., which the Canes defeated at home in Week 1, fell to 0-2 Friday.
Manatee takes a 2-0 record into Friday's rivalry game with 2-0 Southeast.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Canes-Noles game included in rivalry series

Next week's game between rivals Manatee and Southeast has been named one of 42 games included in the Great American Rivalry Series, sponsored by the United States Marine Corps.
The winning team will receive a trophy presented on field by a U.S. Marine. A most valuable player will be selected by members of the attending media and a top student-athlete from each team will receive a college scholarship.
Southeast's winner is senior offensive tackle Patrick Broder. Manatee's winner will be announced during the game.
Southeast's Peter Warrick, who played at Florida State and in the NFL, will be named to the Great American Rivalry Series Hall of Fame, and Manatee's selection will be named during the game.
The game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday at John Kiker Memorial Stadium.

Manatee's difficult week comes to a close

You would think this would be a much more relaxing week for the Manatee Hurricanes.
Two weeks ago, they faced defending Class 5A state champion Tampa Plant in a game broadcast nationally on ESPN. Last Saturday, they traveled 1,064 miles to Pittsburgh to face Woodland Hills, Pa. in a cavernous stadium lined with artificial turf.
Tonight, Palmetto comes to Hawkins Stadium without any of the bright lights or hoopla of the weeks past.
Sounds easier, right? No so much, said Manatee coach Joe Kinnan.
"It's been really difficult," he said. "We lost Saturday as a rest day, Sunday was a travel day and we came back in to look at film on Monday morning and then try and get ready to practice."
Manatee handled both games well, knocking off Plant 48-10 in a Kickoff Classic before opening the regular season with a 39-16 win over Woodland Hills at the Wolvarena, a 12,000-seat stadium where the Wolverines were 88-22 all time.
So Kinnan has no quibble with the results, nor with the experiences and exposure both weeks gave his players.
That being said, this has been the furthest thing from a normal week.
"There is some jet lag. It's been a real, real quick week," he said. "But I think we've been focused and doing what we need to do."
While Kinnan said everyone is ready to play tonight, he acknowledged Manatee was a bit "banged up" following the game against Woodland Hills, a Class 4A team in Pennsylvania.
"They're a dang-god good football team. I'm glad they're behind us and we don't have to still play them," Kinnan said. "They were big, fast and physical. I think they've got a chance to really do well."
As for his own team, tonight has the makings of a classic trap game - Manatee is fresh off two emotional wins and faces Southeast next week in the county's ultimate rivalry game.
Yet Kinnan has no visions of the Canes overlooking Palmetto, which has been hit with the injury bug but plays well defensively.
"(Our goal) is to have the same mindset every week," he said, "We control what happens at Manatee. I can't control who we play, where we play, whatever they do, what they run offensively, defensively, the officials...
"All we can control is, this is our week of preparation. This is how we're going to do it, this is how we're going to go about it, and go from there."

Palmetto welcomes the challenges

From an assortment of injuries to a schedule front-loaded with tough opponents, things haven't been very easy for Palmetto and its first-year head coach, Dave Marino.
But Marino, who leads the Tigers into Hawkins Stadium for tonight's game against nationally-ranked Manatee, sees some silver linings.
"(The players) know all I ever ask of them is their best. And as long we keep improving, it's going to pay off for us," said Marino, whose team is 0-1 following last week's loss to Southeast.
Aside from drawing the Noles last week and Hurricanes tonight, Palmetto hosts Wauchula Hardee, which reached the Class 2A-Region 3 finals, next week.
The schedule was set before by Marino's predecessor, Raymond Woodie. But in doing so, Woodie asked for input from his staff, including Marino, who served as Palmetto's offensive coordinator the last two seasons.
Palmetto competes in Class 4A-District 11 with just three other teams - Lakewood Ranch, Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda Charlotte - leaving the Tigers seven open dates to fill as they see fit.
"You either play lesser-talented teams than you, so you can work through the kinks and the mistakes that are going to happen in any season," Marino said. "Or, you go against the very best, so that now, any mistakes, anywhere where you're not 100 percent on point with your program, you know it. It's there. And that's where we're at."
It worked last season. Palmetto dropped it's first three games but finished 5-5, and came within a blocked field goal of reaching the playoffs for a third straight year.
So as tough of a challenge as Manatee presents, it's a no-lose situation for Palmetto - a loss won't hurt the Tigers' postseason chances, a win will be a major confidence boost and the game itself, regardless of the outcome, serves as a great measuring stick.
"It's all positive for what we're trying to accomplish this year. And the kids are excited," Marino said. "We're excited for opportunity just to get out there and see where we are at again."

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Canes now 5th in USA Today poll

Manatee keeps on climbing USA Today's Super 25 football rankings.
The Hurricanes, which began the season ranked eigth, are now fifth, hopping up a spot thanks to their 39-16 win over Woodland Hills, Pa., during Saturday's regular-season opener.
Manatee held on to the No.3 spot in the ESPN Rise rankings.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Joe Kinnan, cover boy

Manatee coach Joe Kinnan was featured on the cover of the program for Saturday's Rally at the Wolvarena, alongside Woodland Hills coach George Novak.
The Canes defeated the Wolverines 39-16 and are 1-0 on the the year.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Gameday for Hurricanes

Manatee's Saturday got off to an early start - a 7:30 a.m. wake-up call followed by a team breakfast in the Ohio-Monongahela Room of the Doubletree Hotel.
As his players wolfed down plates of pancakes, bacon and sausage, coach Joe Kinnan ran down the day's itinerary, which included an 11 a.m. trip to Wolvarena to watch Steubenville, Ohio and McKeesport Area, Pa. play the first of the four-game Rally at the Wolvarena.
The Hurricanes get back to the hotel at 12:45 to unwind and watch some college football before heading out to for a pregame meal at 4:30.
They plan on getting to the stadium at 6:40 p.m. for Manatee's 8 p.m. game against Woodland Hills, Pa.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Live from Turtle Creek, Pa.

Manatee High's football team has wrapped it's Friday evening practice at the Wolvarena here in Turtle Creek and headed to dinner at Golden Corral.
The Hurricanes, who landed in Pittsburgh at around 2:30 p.m., face Woodland Hills, Pa. 8 p.m. Saturday in the finale of The Rally at Wolvarena.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Canes rise in USA Today's top 25

Despite not having played a regular-season game, Manatee has caught the eye of USA Today.
In the aftermath of their 48-10 win over Tampa Plant in a Kickoff Classic, the Hurricanes hopped two spots to No. 6 in the USA Today Super 25.
Second-ranked Miami Central is the only Florida team ranked higher on the list.
Plant, the reigning Class 5A state champion and ranked sixth heading into last weekend, tumbled out of the top 25.
However, USA Today picks Manatee to lose 23-18 to Woodland Hills Pa., during Saturday's Rally at Wolvarena. Woodland Hills is not ranked.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Manatee third in ESPN Fab 50

So much for preseason games not meaning anything.
Manatee's convincing win over Tampa Plant during Friday's Kickoff Classic broadcast live on ESPN helped the Hurricanes hop 16 places to No.3 on the Powerade Fab 50 ESPN RISE rankings.
(Chances are you'll recognize the player in the picture.)
Manatee defeated Plant, ranked second in the preseason Fab 50, 48-10. The Hurricanes are the highest-ranked team from the Florida on the list, while Plant plummeted to No. 40.
Sitting atop the poll is Abilene, Tex., which hosts Plant in another ESPN game later this month.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Blakely narrowing down his choices

Manatee running back Mike Blakely jacked up his star Friday night, when he ran for three touchdowns and 140 yards in Manatee's nationally-televised 48-10 win over Tampa Plant in a Kickoff Classic.
But he is starting to lean toward a trio of colleges - Auburn, Florida and South Carolina - and hopes to officially visit each of them.
"They're my top three schools," he said. "The other schools...I don't know when I can set up my visits or anything like that."
Blakely has nearly 40 offers to choose from. But it appears his heart belongs to one conference.
"I love the SEC. Pac-10 is all right, ACC is all right," he said. "But I just love the SEC."
After seeing what Blakley did Friday, those schools no doubt love him, too.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Southeast, Manatee crack BHSN poll

Southeast and Manatee have landed on to the Bright House Sports Network's Preseason Media Poll.
Manatee is ranked second behind Tampa Plant. The two teams will meet 7 p.m. Friday in a Kickoff Classic to be broadcast live on ESPN.
Southeast is 10th, one spot behind Clearwater Countryside.
Manatee and Southeast will meet for the 29th time in their storied rivalry 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 17 at John Kiker Memorial Stadium.
Click here to view the rest of the poll.

Manatee ranked eighth by USA Today

Manatee is ranked eighth in USA Today Super 25.
The Hurricanes' opponent in Friday's Kickoff Classic, Tampa Plant, is ranked sixth.
Manatee went 13-2 last year, falling to Plant 21-14 in the Class 5A state final.
Friday's Classic will be broadcast live 7 p.m. Friday on ESPN.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Local players picked for inaugural All-Madden Team

Football players from Bayshore, Bradenton Christian, Braden River, Palmetto and Southeast were among those selected for the All-Madden Team. Members of the team were picked by the coaches associated with The IMG Madden Football Academy following a three-month tour that covered 27 states and seven countries.
Academy director Chris Weinke was among the coaches who picked the 27-member team.
Palmetto guard Iziah Sanders, Bayshore tackle Wendell Williamson and Braden River kicker Kadin Kerns made the team on offense, while Southeast's Brian Poole (cornerback) and Terran Williams (linebacker) were picked to play defense.
Palmetto offensive lineman Kevin O'Brien and linebacker Daqual Randall, Bradenton Christian offensive lineman Josh Clark and Southeast defensive lineman Sanjai Persuad made the team's Next Man In Category, created for underclassmen on the rise.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wilder Jr. chooses Florida State

Tampa Plant running back/linebacker James Wilder Jr. has verbally committed to Florida State, according to the St. Petersburg Times, whose reporters were blogging live from Wilder Jr.'s announcement Wednesday evening at the school's auditorium.
One of the most highly-touted players in the country, Wilder helped the Panthers defeat Manatee in last year's Class 5A state championship game, and should see the Hurricanes next Friday when Plant visits Bradenton in a Kickoff Classic.
The game will be broadcast live on ESPN.

Monday, August 16, 2010

IMG's Murphy knocks in nine

IMG alum and Bradentonian J.R. Murphy had a day for the ages Saturday.
A catcher with the Charleston RiverDogs, a Single-A affiliate of the New York Yankees, Murphy knocked in nine runs in an 18-4 win over Hickory.
(In other words, Murphy pretty much beat Hickory on his own.)
Murphy blasted a grand slam in the third inning and a three-run shot an inning later before adding a run-scoring grounder in the sixth and an RBI single in the eighth.
A second-round pick of the Yankees in 2009,Murphy is now batting .266 with seven home runs and 53 RBIs in 75 games with Charleston.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Manatee cracks a pair of national lists

Manatee's football team has made its way on to a pair of national preaseason polls listing the top 100 teams in the country.
The Hurricanes are 21st on the National Prep Football Poll and 49th on
The Hurricanes host Tampa Plant - ranked second in the former poll - in an Aug. 27 Kickoff Classic broadcast live on ESPN, and head to Woodland Hills, Pa. on Sept. 4 to participate in the eight-team Rally at Wolvarena.
Manatee plays Woodland Hills 8 p.m.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Manatee's Mason earns national honor

Dave Mason, the assistant wrestling coach at Manatee, was named by Wrestling USA magazine as a runner-up to their Assistant Coach of the Year award.
"Very well deserved," said Hurricanes head coach Andy Gugliemini.
A two-time state champion at Bloomingdale Valrico, Mason helped the Canes to pair of runner-up finishes in the Class 2A state tournament in 2007 and '09. Manatee has crowned three individual state champions - Alex Doran, Andrew Fulk and Jacob Gregory - since Mason joined the team for the 2006-07 season, with Doran becoming Manatee's first freshman wrestler to win a state title.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Canes, Noles get kudos from football mag

Manatee and Southeast have earned praise from Friday Night Football Florida, a high school football magazine produced from previewing the ensuing season.
Manatee is ranked fourth in the magazine's listing of the state's top 25 teams and first in the west coast region.
"Manatee is once again a state power," the magazine reads, "and has the talent and depth to compete for the Class 5A title this year."
Running back Mike Blakely, ranked ninth in the list of the state's top 10 running backs, was named to the All-West Coast team. Joining him are teammates Prince Matt (offensive line) and Quenton Bundrage(utility. Defensive lineman Quinton Pompey was ranked the ninth-best defensive tackle in the state
Manatee's defensive line was tabbed as the fourth-best in the state and the coaching staff was ranked fifth.
Southeast's linebacker Desmond Blue also made the squad All-West Coast team.
And the future appears bright for both teams - Southeast defensive back Brian Poole (24th) and defensive tackle DeAngelo Dawes (37th), along with Manatee linebacker Darius White (38th) and linebacker Clinton Heaven (41st) were named among the top 50 members of the class of 2012.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

FCA 7-on-7 tournament set for next week

The Gulf Coast FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) Air Attack, a 7-on-7 football tournament featuring seven area teams, has been scheduled for Tuesday at the Manatee PAL fields at 202 13th Ave. E.
Pool play begins at 8 a.m. and the championship game is scheduled for 1:45.
The 10-team field will be broken into two divisions - Faith (Southeast, Bradenton Christian, Cardinal Mooney, Tampa Wharton and Palmetto) and Service (Venice, Out-of-Door Academy, Bayshore, Tampa Middleton and Braden River).
The top two teams from each division advance to the semifinals, and consolation games will be played at 1 p.m.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Manatee 19th in ESPN Rise Fab 50

Manatee has been ranked 19th in ESPN Rise's Preseason Fab 50.
Its opponent for Aug. 27th's preseason classic, Tampa Plant, is ranked second.
The Manatee-Plant game, which will be broadcast live on ESPN from Hawkins Stadium, is part of the network's new ESPN Rise High School Football Kickoff. Aside from Bradenton, games will be broadcast live from Texas, Ohio, South Carolina and California.
Manatee running back Mike Blakely is ranked 116th in ESPNU's ranking of the nation's 150 best recruits. Plant linebacker and running back James Wilder Jr. is eighth.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Latronica headed to St. Pete Gibbs

Ron Latronica, an assistant football and boys soccer coach at Palmetto, is headed to St. Petersburg Gibbs to coach its boys soccer team. Latronica will also serve as the varsity team's offensive line coach and teach Spanish.
The move was facilitated by Raymond Woodie, who Latronica coached under at Palmetto and played for while Woodie was at Bayshore. Woodie is friends with Donnie Abraham, Gibbs' head football coach and former Tampa Bay Buccaneer, and helped set up an interview.
"It went well," said Latronica, who coached for 2 1/2 years at Palmetto and two more at Lakewood Ranch.
Aside from getting a chance to coach his own soccer program, Latronica was happy about his chance to get back in the classroom full time. After staring out as a Spanish teacher in '06, Latronica worked in Palmetto's media center part time last year and taught French 1 and 2 during the final quarter of the school year.
That being said, he said it wasn't easy leaving Palemtto.
"Palmetto grew on me," he said. "I really enjoyed the community and I have good friends there."

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Lakewood Ranch's Dilandro earns Wood Bat League honors

Phil Dilandro, a pitcher at Lakewood Ranch, was named pitcher of the week beginning June 28 in the IMG Wood Bat League.
Dilandro earned two wins while striking out nine and allowing two earned runs in 10 innings.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Pastornicky part of Dunedin's title run

Bradenton native Tyler Pastornicky, a graduate of The Pendleton School at The IMG Acadamies, helped the Dunedin Blue Jays win the Florida State League's North Division crown in the first half.
A shortstop, Pastornicky is hitting .267 with six home runs and 31 RBIs in his first full season with Dunedin, which is a high Single-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Blue Jays drafted Pastornicky, 20, during the fifth round of the '08 draft.
Pastornicky and the Blue Jays visit the Bradenton Marauders for a four-game series beginning July 22.

Rivals ranks Blakely fourth

Manatee running back Mike Blakely is ranked fourth on Yahoo!/'s latest list of Florida's top 100 senior.
Blakely earned a four-star ranking from rivals.
Blakely is behind a couple of familiar faces on the list - Tampa Plant's James Wilder Jr. is second and Punta Gorda Charlotte's Mike Bellamy, who has committed to Clemson, is third.
Linebacker Tony Steward from St. Augustine Pedro Menendez is ranked first.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Brown happy to be heading to Dean

Ryan Brown took just one visit to Dean College, a junior college in Franklin, Mass.
But that was enough for the Manatee senior.
"I just felt that it was the best opportunity for my career," he said Tuesday after signing with Dean at The Shake Pit.
Brown made the Class 5A all-state first team this seasons thanks to his ability to long snap and work out of the shotgun. He will long snap at Dean too, he said.
"That's what they want me to do up there," he said.
Brown, who played a key role in Manatee's march to the Class 5A state title game last season, is going from one successful program to another. Dean won the National Junior College Association's Northeast Football Conference for the the third straight year (28-4 in that span) and is coached by Todd Vasey, the conference's coach of the year for three straight years, as well.
"I liked the coaches," Brown said, "and got to meet a lot of the players."
Brown plans on heading north Aug. 17 and major in business.

Former Cane Geldmaker earns All-America status

Manatee alum Sam Geldmaker, an offensive lineman at Gannon University in Erie, Pa., was picked for the 2010 Consensus Draft Services (CDS) Division II Preseason All-America second team.
One of 10 offensive lineman named to either the first or second team, Geldmaker, a tackle, helped key an offensive line that allowed Gannon to finish second in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference in rushing (178.9 yards per game) last season.
Geldmaker is entering his senior season having earned consecutive berths on the all-conference team as a sophomore and junior.
Gannon had its first winning season since 2003 last year, finishing 6-5.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Pendleton's Perry drafted by Diamondbacks

Blake Perry, a senior pitcher at The Pendleton School at The IMG Acadamies, has been taken in the sixth round by the Arizona Diamondbacks with the 181st pick.
Originally from Danville, Ky., Perry transferred to IMG in the spring of 2009. The 6-foot-5 pitcher, who has committed to the University of Kentucky, went 2-0 with a 3.54ERA with 29 strikeouts in 29 1/3 innings pitched with Pendleton this season.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Dearing recommends creation of Division II

Roger Dearing, the executive director of the Florida High School Athletic Association, has agreed with the urban/rural committee for the need of a new classification.
The committee recommended the creation of a Division II classification, open to member schools in communities designated rural by the Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development and whose enrollment is 500 students or less.
The association's board of directors will vote on the measure during next week's meeting in Gainesviile.
In other news, Dearing also approved a recommendation by board member Russell Wambles that would allow students in grades six through eight at combination schools to compete in sub-varsity levels only.
It would require a change in the FHSAA's bylaws. If approved, the change would be forwarded to the association's representative assembly for consideration in 2011.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Mitchell no longer Panthers' AD

Drew Mitchell is no longer the athletic director at Bradenton Christian.
A graduate of BCS who became the school's athletic director in 2005, Mitchell said Friday he was the victim of budget cuts.
Football coach Allan Gerber takes over as school's new AD.
Mitchell oversaw the school's decision to add football for the '05-06 school year, a move duplicated months later by area private schools Bradenton Prep, Out-of-Door Academy and Saint Stephen's. BCS also added girls soccer that year, as well, and decided to move boys soccer, formerly a fall sport, to the winter.
Under Mitchell, BCS placed fourth in the Florida High School Athletic Association Floyd E. Lay Sunshine All-Sports Awards the last two years, and was ninth in '08.
"I graduated from Bradenton Christian," he said, "and I will always keep it close to my heart."
Mitchell also helped BCS start the Smoothie King Classic in 2007, the area's only girls and boys holiday basketball tournament that drew 16 teams last December.
Mitchell has been hired to teach at Palmetto Charter School, accepting the job after turning down the AD position at Citrus Park Christian.
"That's a stressful job, being an athletic director," he said. "This way, the hours are better.
"Sometimes the Lord has a different path for us to take, and this is it."