Wednesday, December 14, 2011

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.

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