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 Rivals.com.
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 rivals.com.
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.

Friday, September 17, 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.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

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.