Friday, July 29, 2011

Prep football: Maechtle second, Kinnan 10th on BHSN Coaching Countdown

(photo by Tiffany-Tompkins Condie)

A pair of legendary locals have made The Bright House Sports Network Coaching Countdown, a rundown of the top 20 coaches in the station's seven-county viewing area.

Southeast football coach Paul Maechtle is second, while Manatee's Joe Kinnan is 10th.

The top choice will be unveiled either Monday or Tuesday at

Maechtle has been with Noles for 35 years, taking over as head coach in 1981 and becoming Southeast's athletic director in '85. He has won 265 games and two state titles, and has lead the Noles to five appearances in the state title game.

Maechtle was elected to the Florida Athletic Coaches Association's Hall of Fame in January.

No. 3 on the list is Lakeland's Bill Castle.

Kinnan, another FACA Hall-of-Famer, also began coaching in '81, though he took four years off before returning in 2005. The Hurricanes have won four state titles and 253 games under Kinnan and have made six finals trips overall, with the most recent one coming in 2009.

The judging panel consisted of BHSN sports reporters Drew Fellios and Brooke Bennett, along with producers Chris McCully and Darren Looser.

They used this criteria to come up with the list.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Prep football: Manatee's Calloway gets offer from USF

(photo by Tiffany-Tompkins Condie)

Derrick Calloway has reason to smile - Manatee's rising junior defensive tackle has received his first scholarship offer, courtesy of USF, which liked what they saw of Calloway during a camp earlier this summer.

Calloway got more playing time than expected last year when seniors Drakkar Wilson and Quinton Pompey went down with knee injuries during the first game of the Class 5A-Region 3 playoffs.

After appearing in just two games during the regular season, Calloway started Manatee's next three playoff games, including the state semifinal against Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas.

He totaled 15 tackles and two sacks in four playoff games, and had 20 tackles overall.

It's been a busy summer for Calloway, who along with teammates Cord Sandberg, Anthony Lauro, Leon Allen and Blake Keller took a tour of college camps that included Auburn, Alabama, Florida State and Tennessee.

Prep football: Manatee's Wilson signs with Eastern Kentucky

(photo by Tiffany-Tompkins Condie)

Manatee's Drakkar Wilson, wearing white and flanked between Mike Blakely and Quenton Bundrage in the above photo, has signed with Eastern Kentucky, according to Hurricanes defensive line coach Steve Gulash.

"He worked hard and got his grades up," Gulash said.

One of the emotional leaders of Manatee's defense, Wilson, a defensive lineman, totaled 41 tackles and 9 1/2 sacks last year despite missing nearly all of the playoffs after tearing a meniscus in his knee during Class 5A-Region 3 quarterfinal with St. Petersburg Northeast.

Wilson won't be alone at EKU - Chris Pompey, another Manatee defensive lineman, signed with the Colonels earlier this year.

Another lineman, Chris' brother, Quinton, is at Iowa State on a scholarship along with Bundrage, a receiver.

EKU competes in the Football Championship Subdivision, formerly known as Division I-AA.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Prep wrestling: Bayshore still looking for a coach

Now that Bayshore has filled its boys basketball coaching vacancy with Shawn Campbell, the school will further its search for a wrestling coach.

Athletic director Chris Brady said the school has received 10 to 15 resumes from people hoping to fill the vacancy created when Trevor Johnson stepped down this year after 17 seasons. Johnson also won two state championships while wrestling for Bayshore.

"Given the state of the economy, we don't have as many (teaching) opening as we had five, 10 years ago," Brady said. "So that is limited."

That could mean the wrestling coach will be a local candidate who, like Campbell, does not teach at Bayshore. Campbell will continue to teach math at the Manatee School for the Arts, as he did when he coached at Manatee from 2008-10.

But that could change, Brady said, if more teaching openings become available. Consequently, he said the new wrestling coach will probably be hired closer to the beginning of the school year.

For more on Campbell's hiring, check out Thursday's edition of The Bradenton Herald or

Prep basketball: Shawn Campbell new coach at Bayshore

Bayhsore athletic director Chris Brady announced that Shawn Campbell has been hired as the school's new boys basketball coach.

Campbell was the coach at Manatee from 2008-10, winning 31 games and leading the Hurricanes to their first regional playoff berth since 2002. He replaces Warren Bell, who stepped down this summer after three seasons.

For more on this story, check out Thursday's edition of The Bradenton Herald.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Prep football: Palmetto's Randall commits to Louisville

Daqual Randall, a rising senior and a middle linebacker at Palmetto, has committed to Louisville.

"As of right now, I'm locked into Lousville," Randall said Tuesday after the Tigers finished second during the Gulf Coast FCA's 7-on-7 tournament at Braden River. "I like the coaches...they make you feel like family. I've got a former teammate up there (wide receiver Damian Copeland), I've got a couple of buddies from different states going up there. So that was just a good choice for me, and to get a chance to play early. They were thin at linebacker, so that really made me make my decision."

Randall received 13 Division I offers, and chose the Cardinals over the likes of Iowa State, Rutgers, USF, Indiana and Ball State.

Randall, who had 86 tackles and four sacks last season for the Tigers, has not taken any official visits, and said he only plans to do so if things fall through with Louisville.

"If anything goes wrong," Randall said, "I'll take visits to Iowa State, Indiana, Rutgers, Ball State and Mississippi State."

Monday, July 25, 2011

Prep volleyball: Walker hired at Saint Stephen's

Saint Stephen's announced last week it has hired Shameka Walker as the school's new head volleyball coach.

Walker spent the last two seasons coaching at University Christian School in Jacksonville, and was also a graduate assistant at Arkansas Tech University.

As a player, Walker was a three-year starter at the University of North Alabama.

Walker replaces Nancy Cothron, who lead the Falcons to their first district title and regional victory last year but was relieved from her duties toward the end of the school year.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Takin a break...

I will be off until Monday, July 25, so Prep Rally will be on hiatus. But feel free to vote on the two polls on the right side of the page, and thanks reading and participating in this blog!

Prep football poll: Vote on your favorite game this season


Football season officially gets underway in less than a month, when teams can start their preseason workouts.

So what game are you most looking forward to this year?

Is it the age-old rivalry between Southeast and Manatee, featuring Southeast's Brian Poole and Manatee's Rhoshaun Goff, pictured above? Or how about Palmetto and Southeast playing a district game?

How about the battle for East Manatee bragging rights - Lakewood Ranch and Braden River?

Check out the poll on the right side of the page and take your pick. I listed 10 games and a vote for other, just in case you don't see a game you like.

And as always, feel free to shoot me an email at

Listed below are the nominess and a little on each game:


The Jersey-based Ironmen are ranked No. 1 in the nation by MaxPreps and have won 35 straight games.


Ranked 15th in the nation by MaxPreps, Good Counsel should challenge a Hurricanes team that plays outside the state for the second straight year.


The perennial classic turns 30 this year. The Noles were up 24-7 at the half last year before the Canes rallied for a 31-24 win, so this year's game has plenty to live up to.


This neighborhood rivalry got a jolt in 2007, when the Tigers beat Southeast for the first time. It will be even bigger this year - the teams are now Class 5A-District 10 foes, and this marks the final game of district play for each team.


The Hurricanes beat the Indians twice last year - once for the district title, and then again in the Class 5A-Region 3 semifinals. District realignments had no effect on this rivalry, as Manatee and Venice moved to Class 7A-District 10.


It's not quite at the same level as Manatee-Southeast, but this backyard battle in East Manatee county was ratcheted up a notch last fall when the Mustangs beat the Pirates for the first time.


One of the state's most historic rivalries now has playoff implications - both teams compete in Class 5A-District 10.


With Bradenton Christian in its own district, this game will decide small-school area bragging rights, as well as who takes home the Headmaster's Cup.


Another local rivalry that means a little more now that both teams are district foes.


It's no longer a district game. But it will be interesting watching someone other than John Sprague lead the Rams into Hawkins Stadium.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Prep baseball: IMG's Perez throws scoreless inning in All-Star Game


Holmes Beach native and IMG graduate Chris Perez threw a scoreless inning for the American League during tonight's All-Star Game.

Perez, a closer with the Cleveland Indians, retired Los Angeles' Matt Kemp and Cincinnati's Joey Votto, the latter of whom struck out, before allowing a double to Yadier Molina.

Molina was Perez's battery mate while Perez was with St. Louis, and he tipped his cap and smiled at the pitcher prior to the at-bat.

Perez smiled back after Molina stopped at second.

But the double didn't hurt the AL, as Perez retired Justin Upton on a fly out to left.

Tuesday marked Perez's first appearance in an All-Star game. He is 2-4 with a 2.43 ERA and 21 saves in 36 games with the surprising Indians, who are 47-42 and a half game back of first-place Detroit in the American League Central.

Prep softball: Falcon's Whidden named Under Armour All-America

(photo from

Saint Stephen's alum Cassidy Whidden is one of 30 players selected for the 2011 Under Armour All-Star Game.

The roster was announced Tuesday by ESPN RISE.

The game will be played during a four-day event from July 17-20 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista.

Whidden, who also played soccer at Saint Stephen's, signed with the University of Notre Dame in December after verbally committing to the school in August.

Prep football: 15 teams confirmed for FCA Air Assault

(photo by Tiffany Tompkins-Condie)

Southeast's Paul Maechtle is one of seven area coaches slated to lead his team into The Third Annual 7-0n-7 Air Assault presented by the Gulf Coast Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

This year's tournament is scheduled for 9 a.m. Tuesday, July 26 at Braden River.

Bayshore, Braden River, Bradenton Christian, Cardinal Mooney, Out-of-Door Academy, Palmetto and Southeast are scheduled to attend.

Arcadia DeSoto, Booker, Plant City, Sarasota, Tampa Gaither, Tampa Robinson, Tampa Wharton and Venice round out the field.

Jason Golden, director of coaches ministries for the Gulf Coast FCA, said he is waiting on the confirmation of one other team.

The event is free and open to the public and is scheduled to run until 2 p.m.

Former Florida Gator Ernie Dubois will be this year's guest speaker, and will address the tournament's players and coaches.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Prep baseball: Saint Stephen's Roberts IMG's player of the week

(photo courtesy of IMG)

Mike Roberts, a rising senoir at Saint Stephen's, earned Player of the Week honors from the IMG Wood Bat League for the week of July 3-8.

Roberts doubled twice, drove in six runs, stole three bases and slugged .636 during the week. He also recorded a .500 on-base percentage.

Roberts, who plays for the Manatees, is batting .455 this summer.

He hit .423 with 15 RBIs, 16 runs, nine steals and 22 hits last spring with the Falcons.

Prep football: RivalsHigh ranks Manatee twice in list of top 25 out-of-state game

Both of Manatee's games against opponents outside Florida this fall made RivalsHigh's rankings of the top 25 interstate games.

The Canes' Sept. 16 game against visiting Don Bosco Prep (N.J.), ranked No. 1 in the nation by MaxPreps, placed ninth. And Manatee's season-opener at Our Lady of Good Counsel (Md.) made the list at No. 11.

"I think for 2011 and beyond, teams will have to schedule a minimum of one out-of-state game to be considered a national contender," Brian Hercules, owner of Hercules Sports Management LLC, told Dallas Jackson, RivalsHigh's senior analyst.

The Hurricanes played their first game against an out-of-state opponent last season against Woodland Hills, Pa. That game, coupled with a convincing win over Tampa Plant on a Kickoff Classic broadcast live on ESPN, kept Manatee ranked near the top of a number of national polls throughout the season.

Placing first on RivalsHigh's list, which was unveiled today, is the Sept. 23 game between De La Salle (Calif.) and host Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Prep football: Poole, Heaven make FlaVarsity's 160

(photo by Tiffany Tompkins-Condie)

A pair of area defensive backs have made's list of the top 160 players for the Class of 2012.

Southeast cornerback Brian Poole, above, made the list at No.29.

Manatee safety Clinton Heaven is at No. 113.

It is yet another honor for Poole, who is ranked No. 75 on the Rivals100 and has earned an invite to January's Under Armor All-America Game at Tropicana Field. He was also selected for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, slated for January in San Antonio, but said he won't play.

Poole committed to Florida in June, but said he plans on taking all five of his official visits. has ranked Heaven 23rd among defensive backs. He hasn't selected a school yet, but plans on visiting North Carolina, North Carolina State and Vanderbilt this summer, and possibly West Virginia.

All of those schools, including UCF and Michigan State, have made Heaven an offer.

Poole and Heaven will be on the same field when Manatee hosts Southeast on Sept. 30.

Prep football: Times set for doubleheader at Hawkins Stadium

The times for the Sept. 16 doubleheader at Hawkins Stadium have been set.

Manatee will play New Jersey's Don Bosco Prep at 6 p.m. and Tampa Plant will face another Jersey team, Bergen Catholic, at 8:30 p.m.

Why are the homestanding Hurriances playing first?

"8:30 is past my bedtime," Canes coach Joe Kinnan said with a laugh.

The times may slide to later slots if the games land on television, Kinnan said.

That end of it is being handled by Halloy Boy Sports Marketing, which helped coordinate last year's Rally at The Wolvarena, a four-game showcase in Pennsylvania that featured Manatee.

Based out of Ramsey, the Bosco Prep Ironmen will begin the season ranked No. 1 in the nation by MaxPreps. They have won 35 straight games, 80 of 84 and five straight state titles.

"And with all that, this should be their crowning jewel," writes MaxPreps' Stephen Spiewak, "quite possibly their best team ever."

Spiewak writes the Ironmen, who return 14 starters, will be "next to impossible to pass on," so it will be interesting to watch them go up against Canes' quarterback Cord Sandberg.

Bosco's defense is anchored by cornerback Yuri Wright, ranked 40th on ESPNU's list of the top 150 players for the Class of 2012, and defensive end Darius Hamilton, who ESPNU ranks 67th.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Prep baseball: Goetzman a MaxPreps All-America

(photo by Paul Videla)

Palmetto grad Granden Goetzman has made MaxPreps All-America First Team.

An outfielder, Goetzman batted .413 with eight home runs and 26 RBIs in 25 games for the Tigers, stealing 14 bases.

He was taken in the second round (the 75th pick overall) by the Tampa Bay Rays in the June's amateur draft. Goetzman is currently with the Rays' Gulf Coast League team in Port Charlotte.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Prep baseball: Murphy happy with his decision to turn pro


TAMPA - While in high school at IMG Acadamies, J.R. Murphy lived out a dream when he accepted a full scholarship to play baseball at the University of Miami.

Then the pro game came calling.

Murphy was taken in the second round of 2009 draft by the New York Yankees, who offered Murphy a $1.25 million signing bonus.

He accepted, and the 20-year-old catcher is now with the Yankees' high Single-A affiliate in Tampa.

He's happy to be there.

"I think about it all the time. All my buddies are in college, so I talk to them all the time," the Bradenton resident said Wednesday at George M. Steinbrenner Field. "But I don't have any regrets. This is definitely the right decision I made."

Murphy is a career .271 hitter in 165 pro games with the Yankees, and made the South Atlantic League's All-Star game this year while with the Yanks' low Single-A affiliate in Charleston.

So it appears he has indeed made the right choice - even if he grew up a Boston Red Sox fan.

"You can't beat playing for the Yankees. But I was a Red Sox fan, so it was kind of ironic when that happened," he said. "But you can't beat this."

For more on my chat with Murphy, including his thoughts on playing for an organization stockpiled with catchers and coming home to face the Bradenton Marauders later this month, check out this weekend.