Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Prep sports: Pick your top Manatee County prep sports moment in 2011

(photo by Tiffany Tompkins-Condie)

As 2011 comes to a close, it's time to look back at that the year that was in Manatee County high school sports.

And what a year. From Manatee's football team climbing back on top to Lakewood Ranch's fabulous fall to Saint Stephen's boys soccer team making a return trip to the final four, there were plenty of thrills to go around during this calendar year.

So tell us your favorite. Glance at the poll on the right-hand side of the page and vote on the top high school sports moment in Manatee County for 2011.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Prep baseball: Lastings Milledge signs with Tokyo Swallows

(photo from ESPN)Lastings Milledge has found a new baseball team - albeit, one in a different league, country and continent.
The Palmetto native and Lakewood Ranch alum has signed with the Tokyo Swallows of Japan's Central League, according to the team's website.
It's another chapter in Milledge's strange and tumultuous life in professional baseball, which began when the New York Mets made him the 12th overall pick of the 2003 draft.
He was called up to the Mets in 2006 and again in '07, appearing in 115 games with the team before he was traded to Washington prior to the '08 season.
The move initially paid off for Milledge, who hit 14 home runs, swiped 24 bases and batted .261 for Washington in '08. But he was traded yet again to Pittsburgh in early '09, and he hit .281 in 171 games with the Pirates during in '09-'10.
Milledge latched on with Chicago White Sox in 2011 and made the team out of spring training. But the White Sox, in need of bullpen help, released Milledge after just two games in order to add another reliever to the 25-man roster.
The Swallows have been in existence since 1950 and went 70-59-15 last year.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Prep basketball: Southeast, Lakewood Ranch win on first day of Clemons Classic

Southeast and Lakewood Ranch's girls basketball teams scored victories during the first day of the 8th Annual Wille Clemons Holiday Basketball Classic on Monday at Southeast.
Returning to Seminole Alley for the first time in over a decade, Southeast (10-3) throttled St. Petersburg Northeast 55-26 in the opening round of the Seminole Division.
The Noles return to the newer Narbut Gymnasium 1 p.m. Tuesday to meet St. Petersburg Gibbs in a semifinal.
The Mustangs (8-5) outlasted Mitchell 28-25 in the opening round of the Gators Division and face Gulfport Boca Ciega 4 p.m. Tuesday in a semifinal.
Championship games are scheduled for Wednesday, with the Seminole Division final tipping off at 4 p.m. and the Gators Division final going at 5:30.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Prep baseball: Bradenton's J.R. Murphy ranked Yankees' 9th-best prospect

(photo from

Bradenton native and IMG graduate J.R. Murphy has been named the New York Yankees' ninth-best prospect in the latest issue of Baseball America.

"A solid athlete and average runner, Murphy has improved defensively," the magazine writes about Murphy, a catcher who was chosen by the Yankees during the second round of the 2009 draft. "He has gained average arm strength through better mechanics and a long-toss program and quicker release."

Murphy, 20, began last season with the Yankees low Single-A affiliate in Charleston and was a South Atlantic League before a mid-season promotion to the team's high Single-A club in Tampa.

Murphy batted .259 with a home run and 14 RBIs with the Tampa Yankees before a foul ball broke his left foot, according to Baseball America.

In 86 games in Charlestown and Tampa, Murphy batted .287 with seven home runs and 46 RBIs, and he threw out 24 percent of attempted basestealers. He also saw time at third base, too.

Baseball America expects Murphy to return to Tampa next season.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Prep football: Manatee's 7A state final to be re-aired tonight on Sun Sports

In case you missed it - or if you just want to re-live it - Manatee's Class 7A state football final win over Jacksonville First Coast will be replayed 6:30 p.m. tonight on Sun Sports.

The Canes beat the Buccaneers 40-0 to claim their first state title since 1992 and fifth overall.

The game will be shown again 6:30 p.m. Christmas Eve.

Prep basketball: Willie Clemons Classic pairings

Here are the first-round brackets for the Willie Clemons Girls Holiday Basketball Classic, which runs from Dec. 26-28 at Southeast.


Lakeland Kathleen vs. Gulfport Boca Ciega, noon

Lakewood Ranch vs. Mitchell, 2:30 p.m.

Riverview vs. Coral Gables, 4 p.m.

Seminole vs. Parkway Academy, 5:30 p.m.


Southeast vs. St. Petersburg Northeast, 1 p.m.

Cape Coral Mariner vs. St. Petersburg Gibbs, 2:30 p.m.

Punta Gorda Charlotte vs. Tampa Sickles, 4 p.m.

Tampa Catholic vs. Venice, 5:30 p.m.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Prep football; Joe Pinkos' rating declares Manatee tops in Florida; Palmetto sixth

Joe Kinnan considers his Manatee Hurricanes the best football team in Florida.

And he's not alone.

The Hurricanes were ranked first overall in the final Joe Pinkos' Power Rating, which are determined by a team's strength of schedule as well as its margin of victory.

Manatee, which went 13-2 and defeated Jacksonville First Coast 40-0 in the Class 7A state final, finished first with a rating of 210.6, beating 5A champ Miami Norland (206.8) and Class 6A champ Seffner Armwood (206).

Palmetto was sixth with a rating of 202.4 after going 12-2 and reaching the Class 5A state semifinal. The Tigers lost to Manatee by three points and Norland by eight.

The Hurricanes finished the year third in the top 25 behind top-ranked Armwood and runner-up Norland.

Palmetto placed 18th in that poll.

Prep football: Manatee finishes in the top 12 in three national polls

(photo by Tiffany-Tompkins Condie)

Manatee's domination of Jacksonville First Coast in the state title game didn't just earn the Hurricanes a state championship, it helped them shoot up in the final national prep football polls, which were released Monday. ranked Manatee 11th in its final RivalsHigh100 poll, the highest Manatee was ranked all year. Seffner Armwood (No.3), which went 15-0 and won the Class 6A state title, is the only Florida team Rivals listed ahead of Manatee.

MaxPreps also slotted Manatee at No. 11 in its final Xcellent 25 Football rankings, calling the Hurricanes "the best two-loss team in the country."

And the Canes ended the year 12th in the ESPNRise PowerAde Fab 50, up three spots from No. 15.

New Jersey's Don Bosco Prep, which handed Manatee one of its two losses this season, was named mythical national champion by ESPN and MaxPreps.

Rivals' top spot went to Louisville Trinity in Kentucky, with Bosco finishing second.

Manatee went 13-2 and undefeated against the state of Florida en route to winning the Class 7A state title. It was the Hurricanes' fifth state title and first since 1992.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Prep football: Odds and ends from Manatee's state final win

(photo by Tiffany Tompkins-Condie)

- Manatee's 40-0 win over Jacksonville First Coast during Friday's Class 7A state final marked the program's fifth state title, tied for fourth-most all-time with Monticello Jefferson County. Jacksonville Bolles (11) is first.

- The Hurricanes held First Coast to minus-71 yards of rushing, a new state finals record. The previous mark of minus-10 was set by Naples in a Class 3A state final against St. Augustine.

- Manatee was a combined 12 for 18 on third- and fourth-down conversions, while First Coast converted just one of seven third downs. The Canes also scored on all five trips inside the red zone.

- Including this year, Manatee has made 25 playoff appearances, tying Southeast for most in the area, and has won an area-best 53 playoff games. The Canes are 53-20 all-time in the playoffs, and haven't lost a playoff game at home since 2005.

- Head coach Joe Kinnan has guided Manatee to all five of its state titles, and has now won championships in three different decades - the 1980s ('83, '85, '89), the 90s ('92) and the 2010s ('11). This year marked the first time Manatee recorded a shutout in a state final.

- Manatee has won state titles in Miami (Tamiami Stadium, 1983), Bradenton (Hawkins Stadium, '85), Daytona Beach (Daytona Beach Municipal Stadium, '89), Gainesville (Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field, '92) and Orlando (Florida Citrus Bowl, 2011).

- Manatee went 13-0 this season against Florida schools, and has 20 straight regular-season wins against Florida schools. Its last four losses have come to state champions: Tampa Plant in the 2009 Class 5A state final, Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas in last year's Class 5A state semifinals, and Maryland's Our Lady of Good Counsel and New Jersey's Don Bosco Prep this year. Manatee hasn't lost to a county team since 2006 (Southeast).

- Halfback/wide receiver Anthony Lauro has not received any scholarship offers yet, but said South Carolina and its head coach, Steve Spurrier, have showed him a lot interest.

- Kinnan on First Coast: "They're a lot better football than what the score indicated. We're not 40 points better - we were (Friday)."

- Manatee's rematch with Bosco next season will be Week 3 up in New Jersey. The Ironmen, who have won six straight state titles, beat the Canes 22-16 this season in Bradenton, but were trailing 10-9 midway through the fourth quarter.

"Don Bosco is the best team we've played. We made some mistakes that night," Kinnan said. "You've got to give them credit, they deserved that win. I'd like to play Bosco again right now, though."

Friday, December 16, 2011

Prep football: 5 storylines for tonight's Manatee-First Coast 7A final

(photo by Paul Videla)

Here are five things to watch for during tonight's Class 7A state final between Manatee and Jacksonville First Coast.

1. How DeAndre Johnson will handle the pressure: First Coast's freshman quarterback sure hasn't played like a freshman, throwing for 2,706 yards and 24 touchdowns in leading the Buccaneers to their first title game. Chances are, however, he hasn't seen a defensive line like Manatee's, which is lead by Marquis Dawsey (above) and Blake Keller, who have teamed for 24 sacks. It'll be interesting to see how he reacts after those first few hits.

2. The trenches: First Coast coach Marty Lee said whomever wins the battle in the trenches wins this football game, and he's right. The battle between Manatee's defensive line and a First Coast offensive line anchored by Sheldon Gordon (315 pounds) and Nathan Waters (325) will decide whether Johnson has time to hook up with his deep pool of receivers, or whether he spends the night throwing on the run.

3. Manatee's offense: Manatee was a points machine during the regular season, scoring at least 21 in nine of 10 games. But after racking up 89 in the first two rounds of the playoffs, the Canes were limited to 13 points against Fort Pierce Central and 19 against Palm Beach Dwyer. And 13 of those were scored by the defense. Is that a credit to those two defenses, or a sign that Manatee's O is in a bit of a slump? We'll find out tonight.

4. Special teams: Manatee kicker Nick Tankersley has missed three field goals over the last two games after missing none during the previous 11. When the senior is on, he's on (see his program record 53-yarder against Sarasota this season), and that means more points for Manatee's stellar defense to work with. Tankersley and the rest of Manatee's kickers spent Tuesday at Dad's Stadium at Tampa Plant, which has a similar artificial surface to the Citrus Bowl. Tonight's game should be close, which means things could come down to Tankersley and his foot.

5. The experience factor: Manatee got off to a slow start during the 2009 Class 5A state final because the Hurricanes were a little awe-struck by the enormity of the Florida Citrus Bowl. Their opponents that night, the Plant Panthers, had been there the year before and were used to the surroundings. Things are reversed this season - Manatee has been there, First Coast has not. That could play a role, especially in the early part of the game, before the jitters have wore off.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Prep football: Manatee QB Cord Sandberg voted 7A Player of the Year

(photo by Paul Videla)

Manatee quarterback Cord Sandberg has been named the Class 7A Football Player of the Year by the Florida Dairy Farmers. The voting was done by high school coaches and media across the state.

Sandberg earned 89 points to finish ahead of Jackonsville First Coast's Chris Black (71) and Plant City's Bennie Coney (47).

Sandberg and Black will meet Friday at the Florida Citrus Bowl when Manatee meets First Coast for the 7A state title.

By winning the 7A award, Sandberg is now in the running for Mr. Football.

First Coast's Marty Lee was voted the 7A coach of the year, and Miami Norland's Duke Johnson, who ran for 357 yards against Palmetto in a state semifinal, was voted the player of the year in 5A.

Prep football: Lakewood Ranch named academic team champions

Lakewood Ranch's football team boasted the highest grade-point average in Class 6A this season, according to the Florida High School Athletic Association, which announced its academic team champions Thursday.

The Mustangs had a cumulative GPA of 3.197, which was good enough to beat second-place Naples Palmetto Ridge (3.178).

They will receive a plaque from the FHSAA.

Lakewood Ranch and Palmetto Ridge are tied for eighth with 14 points in Class 6A's overall academic team standings heading into the winter.

On the field, the Mustangs went 5-6 and made the Class 6A-Region 3 playoffs, where they almost upset national power Seffner Armwood before falling 35-31.

Armwood plays for the 6A state crown Saturday.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Prep football: Rivals reporting Palmetto's Randall has switched to WKU

It appears Western Kentucky University has plucked another one of Manatee County's star football players. is reporting that Daqual Randall, Palmetto's middle linebacker, has committed to the Hilltoppers, choosing them over Lousiville, which earned a committment for Randall over the summer.

According to Rivals, Randall made an official visit to WKU on Sept. 9, for the Hilltoppers' game against Navy. He spent most of his time with head coach Willie Taggart and assistant Raymond Woodie, formerly the head coach at Bayshore and Palmetto.

"When I went up there, all the players and the team seemed cool," Randall told Rivals.

If Randall signs with WKU in February, he'll be joining a team that also includes locals such as Jonathan Dowling and Boe Brand. Leon Allen, a senior running back at Manatee, committed to the Hilltoppers last month.

Randall told Rivals his mind is made up.

"I'm set," he said, "and I'm locked in now."

Prep football: MaxPreps ranks Manatee (and its schedule) tops in Florida

Manatee is playing for the Class 7A state championship Friday. But according to MaxPreps' latest rankings, the Hurricanes are the best team in Florida.

MaxPreps has Manatee ranked No.1 overall, one spot ahead of Seffner Armwood, which plays for the Class 6A state title Saturday.

Jacksonville First Coast, which meets Manatee on Friday in the Florida Citrus Bowl, is ranked ninth.

The Canes are also ranked first in MaxPreps' 7A rankings, while the First Coast Buccaneers are second.

Stephen Spiewak, MaxPreps' national football editor, considers Manatee the favorite Friday.

"The most intriguing thing about this game for me is that First Coast has a freshman quarterback," Spiewak said of the Bucs' DeAndre Johnson. "He's looked really good this year, and we have a Freshman of the Year honor, and if First Coast beats Manatee, we'd have a hard time not giving it to him. But that's tough, for a ninth-grader to go against a defense like Manatee and get the job done."

MaxPreps also ranks Manatee 18th in its Xcellent Top 25 writers' poll and 15th in its Freeman computer rankings. Manatee's schedule is a state-best 44.3.

Weston Cypress Bay, a Class 8A team the Canes shut out during the regular season, played the state's third-toughest schedule (41.4), according to MaxPreps.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Prep football: Manatee Memorial Hospital Suncoast Challenge drew four state finalists

(photo by Grant Jefferies)

The Manatee Memorial Hospital Suncoast Challenege should have been called The Tournament of Finalists.

The four-team, two-game event, which was played Sept. 16 at Hawkins Stadium, featured Manatee and Tampa Plant, and New Jersey's Don Bosco Prep and Bergen Catholic.

All took their seasons to the limit.

Bosco, which defeated Manatee 22-16 that night, won its sixth straight Non-Public Group IV state title this year by beating none other than Bergen Catholic in the state final.

The Hurricanes, of course, play for the 7A state championship Friday against Jacksonville First Coast.

And Plant, a 12-7 winner over Bergen that night in Bradenton, meets Miramar on Saturday for the Class 8A state championship.

Bosco finished the year ranked second in the country by Rivals and first by ESPNRise, while Bergen's three losses came to Bosco (twice) and Plant.

The four teams are slated meet to again next year up north.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Prep soccer: New format and site for semifinals and finals

The state soccer final four will have a new look and a new home stadium this season.

The Florida High School Athletic Association announced Monday that the University of South Florida will host the state soccer championships - albeit with a wrinkle.

Rather than the semifinals and finals both being played at one site, as they have in the past, the semifinal game will be played at the school listed on the top line of the bracket.

Only the state final will be played at USF.

This is first time USF has hosted the state soccer finals, which were played at the University of Tampa's Pepin Stadium since 2008.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Prep football: Schedules and results for Manatee and First Coast

(photo from wikipedia)

Here is how Manatee and First Coast made it to the Florida Citrus Bowl, site of Friday's Class 7A state final.


9/2 Our Lady of Good Counsel (Md.) L, 17-24 (2 OT)

9/9 Riverview W, 48-6

9/16 Don Bosco Prep (N.J.) L, 16-22

9/30 Southeast W, 48-6

10/7 Braden River W, 63-0

10/14 Weston Cypress Bay W, 21-0

10/21 Venice W, 52-19

10/28 Palmetto W, 29-26

11/4 Sarasota W, 52-14

11/11 Lakewood Ranch W, 38-7

CLASS 7A-REGION 3 playoffs

11/18 Largo Pinellas Park W, 55-2

11/25 Venice W, 34-21

12/2 Fort Pierce Central W, 13-10

7A Semifinal

12/9 Palm Beach Gardens Dywer W, 19-14


9/2 Jacksonville Parker W, 48-0

9/16 Jacksonville Jackson W, 32-0

9/23 Jacksonville Ribault W, 38-0

9/30 Callahan West Nassau W, 56-9

10/7 Orange Park Fleming Island W, 27-20

10/14 Yulee W, 36-16

10/27 Jacksonville Raines W, 36-7

11/4 Jacksonville White W, 35-34

11/10 Jacksonville Mandarin W, 21-3

CLASS 7A-REGION 1 playoffs

11/18 Ocala Forest W, 40-20

11/25 Orange Park Fleming Island W, 31-24 (OT)

12/2 East Ridge Clermont W, 28-21


12/9 Lakeland W, 24-14

Prep football: Getting to know Jacksonville First Coast


Here's a primer on Jacksonville First Coast, which meets Manatee on Friday at the Florida Citrus Bowl for the Class 7A state championship.


Head coach: Marty Lee

Mascot: Buccaneers

Record: 13-0

Road to Orlando: Region 2 champion. Regional playoffs: Defeated Ocala Forest (40-20), Orange Park Fleming Island (31-24 OT) and Clermont East Ridge (28-21); State semifinal: Defeated Lakeland (24-14)

Keep an eye on: QB DeAndre Johnson (2,703 passing yards, 24 TDs, 54.8 completion percentage); RB Derrell King (606 rushing yards); WR Chris Black (55 catches, 881 yards)

Of note: First coast finished the year ranked first in 7A in the Associated Press prep poll and entered Friday's state semifinal ranked 90th nationally by Rivals. This is the Buccaneers' first trip to a state final, and they have made the playoffs every year since 2005, all under Lee. First Coast was supposed to play at Byrnes, S.C. on Aug. 27 in a game that was going to be televised on ESPN. But the game was scrapped because Duval County, facing budgest constraints, was facing a possible elimination of prep sports, according to

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Prep football: Manatee County's PAL Bowl roster

Manatee's trek to the Class 7A state final has moved the date of the Brad Price Memorial PAL Bowl. The game, pitting the senior all-star football players from Sarasota and Manatee counties, will be played 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 6 at Booker.

The game was originally scheduled for this Friday, the day the Hurricanes head to the Florida Citrus Bowl to face Jacksonville First Coast for the state championship.

The Manatee County team will be coach by Palmetto's Dave Marino, who led the Tigers to the Class 5A state final four.

Here is the roster for Manatee County.

BAYSHORE - Tyderian Jenkins, DB/WR; Clayton Hanson, LB; Josh Maugherman, DB; Alex Mobley, DB; Dominic Everett, RB.

BRADENTON CHRISTIAN - Kenny Virgil, DL; Josh Clark, OL.

BRADEN RIVER - Josh Weirich, LB/DB; Deon Taylor, RB/DL; Nathan Kirkman, LB; Mike Pulawski, OL; Ryan Fisher, WR; Troy Gatling, WR.

LAKEWOOD RANCH - Brandon King, WR/DB; Jeren Kowalewski , QB; MacKenzie Hathaway, RB; Alec Jones, OL; Shane Blair, OL; Greg Funk, TE.

MANATEE - Ryan Taylor, WR; Jalen Holmes, DB; Leon Allen, RB; Roshaun Goff, DB; Clinton Heaven, DB; Antonio Agurs, RB; DeAngelo Dawes, DL; Darius White, LB; Hershel Caywood, LB; Shawn Wilkes, OL; Garrett Waiters, OL; Nick Tankersley, K.

PALMETTO - Da'Qual Randall, LB; De'Quan Reddick, DB; Trent Miller, QB; Robert Jackson, DB; Dallas Jackson, DB; Tyrone Johnson, DL; Trai Sanders, OL/DL; James Johnson, LB; Fitz Richards, OL/DL; Kevin O'Brien, OL; Jamal Kearney, DL.

SAINT STEPHEN'S - Adam Vining, WR.

SOUTHEAST - Brian Poole, DB; Michael Bowden, DL; James Bennett, OL; Trey Laws, WR; Kevin Williams, injured; Billy Roberts, injured; Earvin Bradshaw, injured.

Prep cross country: Lakewood Ranch's Ortiz named runner of the year

(photo provided)

Lakewood Ranch's Olivia Ortiz has been named the 2011 Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year by the Florida Dairy Farmers.

The award is voted on by a panel of cross country coaches around the state.

Ortiz won the Class 3A state championship with a time of 17:39 last month and tallied 80 points in the voting to beat out Class 2A winner Shelby Davidson of Cocoa Beach, who had 50 points.

Ortiz also won county, district and regional championships this fall, and helped the Mustangs to a third-place finish at state.

Ortiz is in San Diego today competing in the Foot Locker Cross Country National Championships.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Prep football: MaxPreps picks Manatee-Dwyer No. 2 game in country

Tonight's Class 7A state semifinal between Manatee and Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer is considered the second-best game in the nation by MaxPreps.

MaxPreps' writers are also picking Manatee, but by a slim margin:

Mitch Stephens: Manatee 21, Dwyer 14

Steve Montoya: Manatee 17, Dwyer 14

Stephen Spiewak: Manatee 17, Dwyer 14

Kevin Askeland: Dwyer 24, Manatee 21

Jamie DeMoney: Dwyer 21, Manatee 18

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Prep football: All four 7A teams ranked in state's top 10

(photo by Tiffany Tompkins-Condie)Whomever wins the Class 7A state title could lay claim to being the best team in Florida.

The four remaining teams - Jacksonville First Coast, Lakeland, Manatee and Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer - are ranked in to the top 10 of's top 25, the state's only single-class ranking.

First Coast (12-0), which hosts Lakeland (13-0) in a state semifinal, is ranked fifth overall, while the Dreadnaughts are 10th.

The Hurricanes (11-2) are ranked eighth, and host ninth-ranked Dwyer (12-1) in 7A's other semifinal.

The winners meet 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 16 at the Florida Citrus Bowl for the 7A state championship.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Prep football: Bright House to televise Manatee's state semifinal

If you're heading to Hawkins Stadium on Friday, there is a chance you will be on television.

Bright House Sports Network is broadcasting Manatee's Class 7A state semifinal with Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer live at 7:30 p.m.

The winner meets either Lakeland or Jacksonville First Coast in the state championship game Friday, Dec. 16 at the Florida Citrus Bowl.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Prep football: Three official visits scheduled for Manatee's Clinton Heaven

(photo by Grant Jefferies) Manatee defensive back Clinton Heaven is starting to narrow down his list of college sources.
He has scheduled official visits to Vanderbilt and West Virginia, and plans on taking another to North Carolina.
"The other two are still iffy," he said Monday. "I just know I'm taking those three."
Rivals ranks Heaven the nation's 25th-best safety for the class of 2012.
He and the Hurricanes host Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer in a Class 7A state semifinal Friday.

Prep basketball: Smoothie King Classic first-round matchups


The first-round pairings have been set for the Smoothie King Classic at Bradenton Christian. The boys and girls basketball tournament runs from Dec. 27-29 at BCS.


Cardinal Mooney vs. Largo Pinellas Park, 10 a.m.

Tampa Prep vs. Bayshore, 1 p.m.

Lakewood Ranch vs. Out-of-Door Academy, 4 p.m.

Bradenton Christian vs. Stuart Community School, 7 p.m.


Cardinal Mooney vs. Braden River, 11 a.m.

Englewood Lemon Bay vs. Bayshore, 2:30 p.m.

Manatee vs. Tampa Alonso, 5:30 p.m.

Bradenton Christian vs. Arcadia DeSoto, 8:30 a.m.

Prep football: Manatee's out-of-state foes wrap perfect seasons

(photo by

While Manatee is two wins away from a state championship, both of their nationally-ranked foes recently put a bow on a pair of championship seasons.

New Jersey's Don Bosco Prep, above, defeated Bergen Catholic to claim the state's Non-Public Group IV championship for the sixth straight season. The Ironmen finished the year 11-0 and are currently ranked second in the nation by Rivals and first by ESPNRise.

Bosco defeated Manatee 22-16 during September's Manatee Memorial Hospital Suncoaast Challenge at Hawkins Stadium. Bergen Catholic was there, too, and lost to Tampa Plant in the second game.

The Canes' Week 1 opponent, Maryland's Our Lady of Good Counsel, clinched its third straight Washington Catholic Athletic Conference title and first undefeated season with 42-0 win over Gonzaga.

Good Counsel is ranked fifth nationally by Rivals and ESPN, and opened the season with a 24-17 double-overtime win over the Canes in Maryland.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Prep football: Website picks Canes to win, Tigers to lose Friday is predicting a Manatee County split for Friday's Region 3 championship games.

The site is picking Manatee to beat Fort Pierce Central by 10 points in the Class 7A-Region 3 final, but thinks Immokalee will beat Palmetto by three in the Class 5A-Region 3 title game.

The site correctly predicted the Hurricanes and Tigers would get here - both teams were picked to win their regional semifinals.

If Manatee does beat Fort Pierce Central, is not expecting a rematch with Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas - the site is picking the Raiders to lose by 13 to Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer in the Region 4 final.

Prep sports: Carlos Boothby named Saint Stephen's athletic director

Saint Stephen's announced Thursday it has named Carlos Boothby as its new athletic director.

Boothby has been with the school 14 years and became the assistant athletic director in 1999. Boothby was named the interim athletic director earlier this season after Saint Stephen's parted ways with Charles Williamson.

Boothby also served as Saint Stephen's varsity girls basketball coach before stepping down this season to focus on the AD position. He was replaced by Scott Dell.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Prep sports: FHSAA releases population report

The Florida High School Athletic Association released the population reports for its member schools Tuesday. The population report are the students enrolled in grades 9-12 as reported by the schools.

Listed below are the population numbers for the area schools, with the 2001 population numbers in parantheses.

BAYSHORE - 1,511 (1,716)

BRADEN RIVER - 1,973 (N/A)



LAKEWOOD RANCH - 1,896 (1,856)

MANATEE -2,261 (1,960)


PALMETTO - 1,762 (1,423)

SAINT STEPHEN'S - 244 (191)

SOUTHEAST - 1,342 (1,486)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Prep football: Getting to know Immokalee and Fort Pierce Central

(photo by

Josh Shaffer, above, and the Fort Pierce Central Cobras head to Bradenton on Friday to play Manatee for the Class 7A-Region 3 title, while Immokalee hosts Palmetto for the 5A-Region 3 championship.

Here is glance at the locals' opponents:


Mascot: Cobras

Coach: Josh Shaffer

Record: 9-1

Road to the regional final: Won the District 12 title; defeated Port Charlotte (56-7) in a regional quarterfinal and Stuart Martin County (31-7) in a regional semifinal.

Key players: QB Marcus Sigmon (1,435 passing yards, 19 TDs, 64.4 comp. percentage); RB Marcus Levy (1,337 rushing yards, 17 TDs); DB Joe Figueroa (68 tackles, 6 INT).

Notable: Shaffer was the team's offensive coordinator before being named the interim coach when Chris Hutchings stepped down in April. A first-time head coach, Shaffer lost the interim tag following the spring season...This is the Cobras' first appearance in a regional final since 1994...Their lone loss this season came to Vero Beach, which made the Class 8A playoffs this year.


Mascot: Indians

Coach: Jerrod Ackley

Record: 11-1

Road to the regional final: Won the District 12 title; defeated Lehigh Acres (19-16) in a regional quarterfinal and Cape Coral (54-7) in a regional semifinal.

Key players: QB Tshumbi Johnson (2,383 passing yards, 24 TDs, 863 rushing yards, 17 TDs); RB D'Ernest Johnson (791 rushing yards, 15 TDs).

Notable: Immokalee is the birthplace of former NFL running back Edgerrin James...The Indians won the Class 2A state title in 2004...Immokalee's only loss this season came to Lake Wales, which fell to Wauchula Hardee in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs.

Prep football: Why Manatee is staying home and Palmetto is hitting the road

(photo by Grant Jefferies)

Trent Miller and the Palmetto Tigers have some traveling to do Friday.

The Manatee Hurricanes do not.

Both local teams are playing for regional championships Friday, but they'll be doing so roughly 130 miles apart. The Tigers head to Immokalee for the Class 5A-Region 3 title game while the Hurricanes host Fort Pierce Central for the Class 7A-Region 3 crown.


It's how the Florida High School Athletic Association set it up, that's why.

This year, the FHSAA ruled the team listed on the top line of each regional final bracket will host the championship game.

There are two exceptions. The first one is if the team on top is a district runner-up and the team on the bottom line is a district champion, the champion hosts. And the other wrinkle is if both finalists are district champs, and the team on the bottom was on the road for the regional semifinal and the team on top was not, the bottom team gets to hosts.

Such is the case for Palmetto. The Tigers hosted Auburndale in the first round and Wauchula Hardee in the second round, while Immokalee, a district champion, had to travel to Cape Coral for a regional semifinal.

Had Cape Coral won last week, the Tigers would be home.

As for the Canes, they knew they'd be at Hawkins Stadium on Friday regardless of who won the other semifinal. Fort Pierce Central is a district champ, but was home during the first two rounds. Fort Pierce's opponent last week, Stuart Martin County, was a district runner-up, and would have had to come to Manatee, which won its district, had Martin County won.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Prep cross country: Lakewood Ranch's Ortiz qualifies for national meet

(photo by Paul Videla)

Olivia Ortiz's fall keeps getting better and better.

One week after winning the Class 3A girls state cross country championship, the Lakewood Ranch junior finished fifth during Saturday's Foot Locker Cross Country Championships South Regional in North Carolina.

Ortiz finished with a time of 17 minutes, 13 seconds to clinch a berth in the Foot Locker Cross County Championships National Finals. That meet will take place Saturday, Dec. 10 at Balboa Park's Morley Field in San Diego.

National bids were awarded to the top 10 finishers in the South, Northeast, Midwest and West regions.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Prep football: Manatee continues to climb national polls

Great news, folks: I'm back. After a week of honeymooning in the Caribbean with my lovely new bride, I have returned just in time for the second week of the high school football playoffs.
But enough about me...
Surging Manatee is still opening eyes at the national level, jumping to No. 27 in the RivalsHigh 100 following Friday's 55-2 win over Largo Pinellas Park in a Class 7A-Region 3 opener.
The Canes were 39th heading into the playoffs.
The Hurricanes (9-2) have won eight straight and are undefeated against Florida schools. Their two losses have come to Maryland's Our Lady of Good Counsel (No. 8) and New Jersey's Don Bosco Prep (No.3), both of whom are ranked by Rivals and are a combined 21-0.
Manatee also made a modest leap on ESPN'S Powerade Fab 50, jumping two spots to No. 23.
The Canes host rival Venice in a Region 3 semifinal 7:30 p.m. Friday.
While Manatee is the lone area team receiving national love, another local squad made an impact on the polls. Lakewood Ranch nearly scored an upset during last week's Class 6A-Region 3 opener before falling 35-31 to Seffner Armwood.
The Hawks entered the game ranked second in the nation by Rivals, but plummeted to 10th following their meeting with the Mustangs.
ESPN kept them at No. 2, however, in its latest poll.
Lakewood Ranch finished the season at 5-6.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Off for a week

I will return to the paper - and my blog - a week from Monday.
Until then, check in with and the print editions of The Bradenton Herald for the latest news on local prep sports.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Prep football: Palmetto's game moved to Thursday

Palmetto's game at Ocala Trinity Catholic has been switched to Thursday because school will be closed Friday in observation of Veterans' Day.

The game will be played 7:30 at Celtic Stadium.

Both teams are coming off district-clinching wins - Palmetto (8-1) beat Southeast to win the 5A-10 title and Trinity Catholic (5-3) beat Fort White to take 3A-3.

It was the fourth straight district title for the Shamrocks, who won the Class 1A state title last season.

Prep football: Manatee County area playoff matchups

(photo by Paul Videla)

Cardinal Mooney fell short during Monday's Class 3A-District 6 tiebreaker Monday in Lakeland, so now the area playoff picture has been settled.

Three teams are moving on: Lakewood Ranch, Manatee and Palmetto. The playoffs begin Nov. 18.

Listed below are the matchups.


Largo Pinellas Park (7-2) at Manatee (7-2)

Winner faces: Either Countryside or Venice


Lakewood Ranch (5-4) at Seffner Armwood (10-0)

Winner faces: Either Tampa Hillsborough or Largo


Auburndale (2-7) at Palmetto (8-1)

Winner faces: Either Lake Wales or Wauchula Hardee

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Prep football: Manatee County area playoff scenarios

Joe Kinnan has reason to smile - his Manatee Hurricanes are the lone area team to lock up a playoff spot heading into Friday, which marks the final week of district play.

Here's what we know: Bayshore, Bradenton Christian, Out-of-Door Academy and Saint Stephen's are out; Manatee is in.

Everyone else?

Let's check it out.

BRADEN RIVER: Despite a slew of injuries and lopsided losses, the Pirates (2-6, 1-1) are still in play to make a fourth straight playoff appearance. They host Venice on Friday, with the winner claiming the runner-up spot from Class 7A-District 10.

CARDINAL MOONEY: The Cougars missed out on a chance to lock up a playoff spot two weeks ago with a loss in Frostproof, but can make up for it Friday in Fort Meade. A Mooney win plus a Frostproof loss against Lakeland Christian gives the Cougars (3-5, 1-1) a Class 3A-District 6 championship. If Mooney and Frostproof both win, the Cougars join Fort Meade (6-2, 2-0) and Frostproof (4-4, 1-1) in a three-way tiebreaker with two playoff berths on the line. A three-way tiebreaker for the runner-up spot will happen between Mooney, Frostproof and Lakeland Christian (3-5, 0-2) if Mooney and Frostproof both lose; but a Mooney loss coupled with a Frostproof win knocks the Cougars out of the playoff race.

LAKEWOOD RANCH: Last week's loss at Largo cost the Mustangs (4-4, 1-1) a chance to win a Class 6A-District 7 title, but their playoff hopes are very much alive. They head to Seminole Osceola (3-5, 2-2) this week, and with a win, return to the postseason for the second time in three years.

PALMETTO AND SOUTHEAST: The longtime county foes play their rivalry's biggest game Friday at John Kiker Memorial Stadium, where postseason berths and district titles hang on the line. The Tigers (7-1, 3-0 Class 5A-District 10) are a game up on Southeast (7-2, 2-1) and Wauchula Hardee (7-1, 2-1), and can lock up the district with a win. The Seminoles' loss last week in Wauchula turned this game into a must-win, though Southeast can still win the district by beating Palmetto and having Arcadia DeSoto (2-6, 0-3) upset Hardee. A Southeast win coupled with a Hardee win means Southeast, Palmetto and Hardee will meet for a three-way tiebreaker, with the district title and runner-up spot on the line. If the Seminoles lose, they are eliminated. The Tigers, meanwhile, can do no worse than reach a three-way tiebreaker, and regardless of how they do, clinch a playoff berth outright if Hardee loses.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Prep basketball: Bradenton Christian names new interim coach

Scott Townsend, a 1995 alum of Bradenton Christian, has been named the school's interim boys basketball coach.

He replaces David Magley, who stepped down earlier this month after 11 seasons.

Townsend has been with the program for 10 years.

Allan Gerber, BCS' athletic director, said a search for a full-time coach will begin at the conclusion of the 2011-12 season. Until then, Townsend and his staff "have our full support," Gerber said.

Prep volleyball: Manatee County area regional pairings

(photo by Paul Videla)

Tori Biach and the Saint Stephen's Falcons fell short in their quest to win a second straight district volleyball title, but their season isn't over.

The Falcons are one of four area teams who advanced to regional play, which begins this week.

Listed below are the pairings.


CLASS 5A-REGION 3 - Southeast at Tampa Robinson, 7 p.m.

CLASS 3A-REGION 3 - Saint Stephen's at Clearwater Central Catholic, 7 p.m.; Largo Indian Rocks Christian at Cardinal Mooney, 7 p.m.


CLASS 6A-REGION 3 - Tampa King at Lakewood Ranch, 7 p.m.

Winners advances to the regional semifinals, scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 8.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Prep volleyball: Life left for four Manatee County area teams

(photo by Paul Videla)In her first year at Southeast, coach Nancy Cothron has led the Seminoles into the Class 5A-District 12 final. The Noles beat Bayshore 3-1 in Tuesday's semifinal and will head to top-seeded St. Petersburg Lakewood for Thursday's title match.
Listed below are Tuesday's results and Thursday's contests. The runner-up and champion from each district head to the regional playoffs, which begin next Tuesday and Wednesday.

Punta Gorda Charlotte 3, Manatee 1
Venice 3, Braden River 1
Lakewood Ranch 3, Largo 0
Seminole Osceola 3, Palmetto 0
Southeast 3, Bayshore 1
Saint Stephen's 3, Out-of-Door Academy 1
Cardinal Mooney 3, Bradenton Christian 0

Lakewood Ranch at Seminole Osceola, 7 p.m.
Southeast at St. Petersburg Lakewood, 7 p.m.
Saint Stephen's at Cardinal Mooney, 7 p.m.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Prep football: The playoff fates of the Manatee County area teams

(photo by Paul Videla)

Trent Miller and the Palmetto Tigers are staring opportunity right in the face.

Thanks to their thrilling 16-13 win over Wauchula Hardee on Friday, the Tigers are 7-0 and 3-0 in Class 5A-District 10, and on the cusp of a playoff berth and possibly a district championship.

Listed below is how the districts look following Friday's games.

CLASS 7A-DISTRICT 10: Manatee took care of business with a convincing 33-point win over Venice, but it was Braden River that really made the Canes' night. The Pirates' win over Sarasota, coupled with Manatee's win over the Indians, gave Manatee its second straight district title. It also keeps the Pirates in the playoff chase: Despite a 2-6 record and an onslaught of injuries, they host Venice on Nov. 4 for the district's final postseason berth.

CLASS 6A-DISTRICT 7: Lakewood Ranch recovered from a 14-point hole and rallied to beat St. Petersburg Dixie Hollins, giving the Mustangs a 3-0 district mark. That means Friday's game in Largo (3-0) will decide the district title. While the Mustangs would love to win the district for the first time under coach Shawn Trent, a playoff berth can be had as long as they win one of their last two district games.

CLASS 5A-DISTRICT 10: Palmetto is playing Manatee on Friday, but the Tigers should really be rooting for Southeast, which will be in Wauchula playing a huge district game with Hardee. A Seminoles' win clinches playoff berths for Southeast and Palmetto and turns their district finale Nov. 4 at John Kiker Memorial Stadium into the district championship game. A Hardee win means the Noles will have to beat Palmetto to forge a three-way tie, especially since Hardee meets struggling Arcadia DeSoto in its district finale Nov. 4.

CLASS 3A-DISTRICT 6: Despite a disappointing loss in Frostproof, Cardinal Mooney still controls its destiny. The Cougars (1-1 in district) are off this week, but head to Fort Meade (2-0) on Nov. 4 and can still win the district if they beat the Miners and Lakeland Christian (0-2) knocks off Frostproof (1-1). A Mooney win combined with a Frostproof win puts three teams at 2-1 and forces a three-way tiebreaker with Mooney, Fort Meade and Frostproof playing for the district title and second playoff berth. If the Cougars lose, they need Lakeland Christian to beat Frostproof to set up a three-way tie for the district's last playoff spot.

CLASS 2A URBAN-DISTRICT 6: Out-of-Door Academy isn't out of the race, but the Thunder need some help. They are 3-2 and in third place in the eight-team district, a game behind St. John Neumann (4-1). But Neumann defeated ODA earlier this seas season, meaning the Thunder need to win two and Neumann needs to lose two for the Thunder to get in. Evangelical Christian (6-0) has already locked up one playoff spot.

CLASS 2A URBAN-DISTRICT 5: Already saddled with four district losses, Bradenton Christian is playing for pride as the season winds down.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Prep basketball: David Magley stepping down at Bradenton Christian

David Magley announced Saturday he will step down as Bradenton Christian's boys basketball coach.

Magley has started his own business and was concerned he could not devote as much time to the program as he would have liked.

"I thought the boys deserved better," Magley said, "than I could give them."

Magley went 255-100 at BCS and lead the Panthers to four state final fours and eight straight trips to the elite eight.

For more on this story, head to Sunday or check out the print edition of The Brdenton Herald.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Prep football: MaxPreps picking Manatee over Venice

MaxPreps considers Manatee an overwhelming favorite to beat Venice on Friday in a game that will probably decide the Class 7A-District 10 title.

The site ranks the meeting as the nation's fifth-best game of the week, and all five of its writers believe the Hurricanes will win.

Here are the predictions:

Mitch Stephens: Manatee 35-21

Steve Montoya: Manatee 14-7

Stephen Spiewak: Manatee 35-21

Kevin Askeland: Manatee 28-14

Jamie DeMoney: Manatee 28-14

I will be Tweeting live from Hawkins Stadium on Friday, so follow me @JohnLembo1878 to see how the much-anticipated meeting between the Hurricanes and Indians shapes up.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Prep football: Looking back at the last seven Manatee-Venice games

(photo by pagemoorephoto)

Quenton Bundrage and the Manatee Hurricanes went to Venice last season and rolled past the Indians en route to clinching their first district championship since 2006.

Bundrage is now at Iowa State, but Manatee and Venice are back it and will meet Friday night in Bradenton in a game that could decide the Class 7A-District 10 title.

Since Joe Kinnan returned to Manatee's sideline in 2005, the Canes and Indians have finished in the top two of their district every year but '05 and '08.

Listed below is a glance at the last seven matchups between the teams in a rivalry that grows stronger every year.


Score: Manatee 28, Venice 14.

When and where: Sept. 30 at Hawkins Stadium

What happened: Bobby Spann returned a kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown and rushed for 70 yards and a touchdown as the Canes recovered from a 14-0 deficit. It was Kinnan's first game against Venice since the Class 5A-Region 3 final in 2000, which marked Kinnan's final game before his five-year break from coaching.

The aftermath: Manatee went on to win the 5A-District 10 title en route to its first regional title in 11 years. The Indians also made the playoffs but lost to Largo in the second round.


Score: Manatee 20, Venice 7.

When and where: Sept. 29 at Powell-Davis Stadium

What happened: Shawn Williams rushed for 144 yards and all-state linebacker Austin Jensen showed some offensive prowess by rushing for two touchdowns as the Canes cruised.

The aftermath: Manatee repeated as Region 3 champion and lost to Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas in double overtime during a Class 5A state semifinal. The Indians did not make the playoffs.


Score: Venice 21, Manatee 7.

When and where: Oct. 26 at Hawkins Stadium

What happened: The Indians won in stunning fashion, limiting the Hurricanes to 171 total yards and no offensive touchdowns, with Manatee's lone points came on Johnny Enrisma's fumble recovery with less than four minutes left in the game. Manatee entered 8-0 before suffering its first district loss since 2004.

The aftermath: Venice clinched the Class 5A-District 10 title with the win, but Manatee defeated Lakewood Ranch the following week to make the playoffs. Both were done in by Cape Coral, however, which defeated the Indians in the Region 3 quarterfinals and Manatee in the semifinals.


Score: Venice 31, Manatee 16

When and where: Oct. 31 at Powell-Davis Stadium

What happened: The Hurricanes led 10-3 at the half but ran just one offensive play during the third quarter, and Venice quarterback Trey Burton ran for 168 yards and threw for 205 in leading the Indians to a second straight district title.

The aftermath: Despite a 7-3 finish, Manatee failed to make the playoffs for the first time in four years. The Indians, who went undefeated during the regular season, beat Cape Coral in the Region 3 quarterfinals but lost to Charlotte in the semis.


Score: Venice 43, Manatee 29

When and where: Oct. 30 at Hawkins Stadium

What happened: Manatee scored 16 points less than eight minutes into the second half to take a 29-28 lead, but the Indians, powered by Burton, roared back to win their third district title. The senior threw for 253 yards and rushed for 155 and three touchdowns, which earned high praise afterward from Kinnan, who called Burton "the best we've ever gone against."

The aftermath: Thanks to Riverview's win over North Port, Manatee clinched a playoff berth that night despite the loss, but a Venice-Manatee rematch never materialized: The Canes beat St. Petersburg Gibbs in the Region 3 quarterfinals while the Indians were upset by St. Petersburg. Manatee then got on a roll, winning the Region 3 title and knocking off St. Thomas Aquinas, ranked No.1 in the nation at the time, in a Class 5A state semifinal to reach a state championship game for the first time since 1993. The Canes lost to Tampa Plant, 21-14, in the final.


Score: Manatee 24, Venice 7

When and where: Oct. 29 at Powell-Davis Stadium

What happened: Ankle injuries limited Manatee running back Mike Blakely to six carries, so Quenton Bundrage (seven catches, 145 yards), Cord Sandberg (two passing touchdowns, 68 rushing yards) and the defense (five sacks) helped carry the Canes to their first district title since '06.

The aftermath: Manatee wrapped its first undefeated regular season since 1990, and Venice made the playoffs as a runner-up, leading to...

2010, Part II

Score: Manatee 41, Venice 28

When and where: Nov. 27 at Hawkins Stadium, Class 5A-Region 3 semifinal

What happened: Manatee opened a 20-0 lead after a quarter, and despite a valiant effort, the Indians never caught up, falling to the Canes for the second time in less than a month. A healthy Blakely ran for 189 yards and two touchdowns, and Sandberg threw for 207 yards in the win.

The aftermath: The loss sent Venice home for the season, while Manatee defeated Palm Bay Bayside in the Region 3 title game for the second straight year. The Canes season came a to a halt the following week in Fort Lauderdale, where Aquinas cruised to a 31-7 win in a state semifinal.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Prep volleyball: District tournament brackets for Manatee County area

(photo by Paul Videla)

Allie Clements (No. 6) and Rebecca Butler will help lead Manatee's volleyball team into the Class 7A-District 11 tournament, which gets underway next week.

All the area teams begin postseason play next week, and a number of them are home.

Listed below are the playoff matchups for each district. The district champion and runner-up advance to the regional tournaments, which begin Tuesday Nov. 1 (Classes 1A, 3A, 5A, 7A) and Wednesday, Nov. 2 (2A, 4A, 6A, 8A).

All district games are at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted. Each team's seed is listed in parentheses.


Monday, Oct. 24 - (5) Port Charlotte at (4) Braden River; (6) Sarasota at (3) Charlotte.

Tuesday, Oct. 25 - (1) Venice* at Port Charlotte/Braden River; Sarasota/Charlotte at (2) Manatee.

Thursday, Oct. 27 - Championship, 7 p.m., TBA

*- Venice cannot host any postseason matches as per the Florida High School Athletic Association.


Monday, Oct. 24 - (5) St. Petersburg Dixie Hollins at (4) Largo

Tuesay, Oct. 25 - Dixie Hollins/Largo at (1) Lakewood Ranch; (3) Palmetto at (2) Seminole Osceola.

Thursday, Oct. 27 - Championship, 7 p.m., TBA


Monday, Oct. 24 - (5) Gulfport Boca Ciega at (4) Dunedin; (6) St. Petersburg Gibbs at (3) Southeast.

Tuesday, Oct. 25 - Boca Ciega/Dunedin at (1) St. Petersburg Lakewood; Gibbs/Southeast at (2) Bayshore.

Thursday, Oct. 27 - Championship, 7 p.m., TBA


Tuesday, Oct. 25 - (1) Saint Stephen's vs. (4) Out-of-Door Academy, 5:30 p.m.; (3) Bradenton Christian vs. (2) Cardinal Mooney, 7 p.m.

Thursday, Oct. 27 - Championship, 7 p.m.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Prep football poll: Pick Manatee County's most promising game this week

(photo by Tiffany Tompkins-Condie)

Friday is shaping up to be a memorable night of football in Manatee County.

Cord Sandberg, above, and nationally-ranked Manatee host Venice in a game that could decided the Class 7A-District 10 championship, while Class 5A-District 10 foes and longtime rivals Palmetto and Wauchula Hardee clash at Harllee Stadium in a battle between undefeated teams.

In the other 5A-10 game, Southeast, currently in a three-way tie with Palmetto and Hardee atop the district, heads to Bayshore against a Bruins team looking to play spoiler.

Over in East Manatee county, Braden River hosts Sarasota in another key 7A-10 game: Both teams are 0-1 in the district and the loser is out of the playoff race.

And Lakewood Ranch, currently 2-0 in Class 6A-District 7, will look to continue its surge against visiting district rival St. Petersburg Dixie Hollins.

So which game are you most looking forward to?

Head to the right and cast your vote.

Prep football: Manatee Hurricanes on the rise nationally

Winning three straight games by a combined 126 points tends to open some eyes.

Just ask Manatee. The Hurricanes, riding a winning streak where they have outscored Southeast, Braden River and Weston Cypress Bay 132-6, took another leap in the RivalsHigh100 rankings.

Manatee jumped 11 spots to No. 39 following its 21-0 win over Cypress Bay on Friday. The Lightning began the week ranked eighth in the state in Class 8A in the Associated Press poll.

The Canes opened the year at No. 36 but plummeted following their sloppy win over Delray Beach American Heritage in the Kickoff Classic, and close losses to nationally-ranked Don Bosco Prep (N.J.) and Our Lady of Good Counsel (Md.).

But the Hurricanes are 4-0 against Florida teams, outscoring them 180-12, and have vaulted back on the national radar.

Manatee hosts Venice on Friday in a game that could decide the Class 7A-District 10 champion.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Prep football: Week 7 Manatee County area matchups

(photo by Grant Jefferies)

Joe Kinnan hopes his Manatee Hurricanes keep rolling through Florida opponents Friday night when they face Weston Cypress Bay at Hawkins Stadium.

Games are at 7:30 p.m. unless otherwise noted.

Here are this week's matchups. As always, head to and Friday's print edition of The Bradenton Herald for detailed capsules into each game.

Bayshore (2-4) at Braden River (1-5)

The skinny: Neither the Bruins nor Pirates appear likely to make the playoffs this season, so a good consolation prize could be a win over a county rival. Both teams are pretty banged up and are coming off one-sided district defeats (Bruins lost 42-7 to Palmetto; Pirates lost 63-0 to Manatee), but a win for either side would cure some ills.

Weston Cypress Bay (3-2) at Manatee (3-2)

The skinny: The Lightning aren't your typical Homecoming opponent: They made the Class 6A state semifinals last season and their two losses this year have come to nationally-ranked Miramar and Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas. The Canes want to win, obviously, and further the momentum they have created with statement-making wins over Southeast and Braden River. But coach Joe Kinnan said the main objective is to come out of Friday night healthy, especially since Manatee hosts Venice next week in what could wind up being the Class 7A-District 10 championship game.

Southeast (5-1) at Riverview (1-4)

The skinny: The Seminoles rebounded from their loss to Manatee by winning their district opener last week against Arcadia DeSoto. And while this is a non-district affair, a win would be beneficial for a Southeast team that closes out the regular season with three consecutive Class 5A-District 10 opponents: Bayshore, Wauchula Hardee and Palmetto.

Bradenton Christian (2-3, 2-2 Class 2A Urban-District 5) at Tampa Carrollwood (3-3, 1-3), 4 p.m.

The skinny: Being one of five teams with two district losses, the Panthers are in the thick of the playoff chase despite a slow start. That said, they need some help, and most importantly, need to win out if they want to make a run at their first-ever postseason berth.

Cardinal Mooney (3-3) at St. Petersburg Catholic (1-5)

The skinny: Running back Anthony Caiazzo broke a school record by rushing for 366 yards last week, though the Cougars may not need such an effort Friday: The Crusaders have yielded 191 points this season.

Dade Christian School (4-1) at Out-of-Door Academy (3-2), 6 p.m.

The skinny: It's Homecoming for the Thunder, as well as a rare week when they don't have to play a district opponent. But seeing as how three of its last four games come against Class 2A Urban-District 6 foes, ODA needs to stay sharp in this one.

BYE WEEK: Lakewood Ranch, Palmetto, Saint Stephen's.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Prep football: The Manatee County Mid-Season Lemmy Awards

(photo by Tiffany Tompkins-Condie)The 2011 prep football season is almost over? Really? Seems like this morning that I was scrambling to get all my work done for our prep football tab and booking my flight to Maryland for Manatee's season-opener against Our Lady of Good Counsel.
But he were are, on the doorstep of Week 7, with the playoffs (beginning Nov. 18) clearly in sight.
So here are the Mid-Season Lemmy Awards, voted on by me. Keep in mind these are just for fun and have no bearing on our All-Area Team, which is put together with input from the entire staff at The Bradenton Herald, as well as all the coaches in the area.
So here goes!

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Brian Poole, Southeast: Other guys have the numbers, but no one has meant more to his team than the Florida-bound Poole. He mans the defensive backfield, returns punts (sometimes for touchdowns), runs the ball, catches the ball and is now going to throw the ball some, too. Poole may be the best player in Manatee County - but there isn't any doubt he is the most valuable.
HONORABLE MENTION: Anthony Lauro, Manatee; Trent Miller, Palmetto; McKenzie Hathaway, Lakewood Ranch; Ryan Fischer, Braden River.

COACH OF THE YEAR: Dave Marino, Palmetto: You know what I like about Marino, aside from the fact that he's lead the Tigers to a 6-0 record and a 10-game regular-season winning streak? He wants his Tigers to earn respect. You want to join the same echelon as the Manatees and Southeasts of the world? OK - go out there and win. His Tigers are a confident but not a cocky bunch, and they have destroyed everything in their way. But Marino is a realist, and well aware that Palmetto's hot start won't mean much should it stumble against 5A-10 foes Wauchula Hardee and Southeast. That said, Marino is 12-5 at Palmetto, which looks smarter by the day for hiring a coach so many others passed up on.
HONORABLE MENTION: Joe Kinnan, Manatee; Paul Maechtle, Southeast.

GAME OF THE YEAR: Don Bosco Prep 22, Manatee 16, Sept. 16: Want to know why the Hurricanes are 3-2 but ranked nationally by Rivals and ESPN? It's because they gave the New Jersey-based Ironmen a Garden State-sized scare, when they lead Bosco, the nation's No. 1 team, by one (10-9) with less than seven minutes to go in the game. Of course, things didn't end up going Manatee's way, but the Hurricanes are 2-0 since, outscoring opponents 111-6 in those two wins.
HONORABLE MENTION: Bayshore 26, Lakewood Ranch 20, Sept. 16 (Bruins end 14-game losing streak against county foes).

LEMMY SAYS: I'm envisioning Lakewood Ranch, Manatee, Palmetto and Southeast making the playoffs, with the Hurricanes winning Class 7A-District 10 and the Tigers edging past the Seminoles to take the 5A-10 title.
Keep logging on to Prep Rally to see how right - or wrong - I will be.

Prep volleyball: 3A-10 bracket set

(photo by Paul Videla)

Thanks to Tuesday's dramatic 3-2 win over host Bradenton Christian, Tori Biach and the rest of Saint Stephen's volleyball team will take the No. 1 seed into the Class 3A-District 10 tournament, which begins in less than two weeks at Cardinal Mooney.

Rather than facing either second-seeded Mooney or third-seeded BCS, both of which have defeated them this season, the Falcons will play Out-of-Door Academy in the semifinals Tuesday, Oct. 25.

A win over the Thunder, who did not win a district game this season, sends Saint Stephen's into the district final as well as the Region 3 playoffs.

"I don't go in underestamating any team," said Falcons coach Shameka Walker. "According to (ODA's) seed, it does give us a smoother entry. Still, we're going to take that game very seriously...It does smooth out just a little bit, but still, we're going to take ODA very seriously."

The Cougars defeated the Falcons on Monday to finish 4-2 in district play and clinch the second seed. BCS, which was 3-3 in district play but did beat the Falcons during the semifinals of this year's county tournament, is the No. 3 seed.

Mooney and BCS will meet in the tournament's other semifinal.

The championship match will be played 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27. The top two finishers qualify for the Region 3 tournament, which gets underway Tuesday, Nov. 1.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Prep football: State rankings update

(photo by tiffany tompkins-condie)

Southeast and its stellar sophomore running back, Courtney Allen, are one of three area teams ranked in the state.

Here is a look at how each team is sitting:

MANATEE: The Hurricanes climbed two spots to No. 6 in the AP's Class 7A state poll following their 63-0 win over Braden River on Friday during each team's District 10 opener. Manatee, which is also ranked nationally by Rivals (50th) and ESPNRise (34th), remained at No. 16 in the Top 25. The Canes host Weston Cypress Bay this week. The Lightning (3-2) are a Class 8A team that reached last year's Class 6A state final four.

PALMETTO: At 6-0, the Tigers are the area's lone undefeated team, and they remained at No. 6 in Class 5A on the AP poll. Palmetto, unranked by, is off this week, but begins a huge three-game stretch Oct. 21 against visiting Wauchula Hardee.

SOUTHEAST: Despite their 42-point loss to rival Manatee, the Seminoles are in good shape at 5-1 overall and 1-0 in Class 5A-District 10 following Friday's win over Arcadia DeSoto. Southeast, however, dropped a spot to No. 9 in the AP's Class 5A poll. The Noles have dropped off the's top 25, but are on the bubble after receiving one vote. Southeast meets Riverview on Friday in a non-district game between the longtime rivals.