Monday, December 31, 2012

Prep football: Calloway commits to Louisville

photo by Tiffany Tompkins-Condie
Manatee defensive lineman Derrick Calloway has committed to Louisville, according to Hurricanes defensive line coach Steve Gulash. Gulash said he received a text from Calloway on Sunday night from Texas, where Calloway is participating in the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl.
Rivals ranks Calloway, a senior, as the nation's 18th-best defensive tackle.
Calloway had three sacks, 13 quarterback hurries, 68 tackles, two passes defended, a fumble recovery and a blocked field goal this season for the Hurricanes. In three seasons at Manatee, two as a full-time starter, Calloway finished 13 sacks and 143 tackles and helped the Canes win three regional titles and the Class 7A state title in 2011.
He is the third Canes linemen to commit to a Division I program: Defensive end Blake Keller, a senior, chose UCF over the summer; tackle Demarcus Christmas, a junior, committed to Florida State during the season.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Prep football: FHSAA releases tentative districts

photo by John Lembo
The Florida High School Athletic Association has unveiled the tentative districts for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons.
The schools have until Jan. 18 to appeal their new classification and district.

Listed below are the new districts involving area teams.
The full list can be found here.

Manatee, Palm Harbor University, St. Petersburg, Sarasota Riverview.
Braden River, Lakewood Ranch, North Port, Sarasota.
Palmetto, Largo, St. Petersburg Dixie Hollins, Seminole Osceola, Venice.
Bayshore, Southeast, Arcadia DeSoto, Wauchula Hardee.
Cardinal Mooney, Saint Stephen's, Out-of-Door Academy, Community School of Naples, Fort Myers Bishop Verot, Moore Haven.
Bradenton Christian, Tampa Cambridge, Tampa Carrollwood, St. Petersburg Canterbury, Largo Indian Rocks Christian, St. Petersburg Keswick Christian.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Prep baseball: Manatee's Cord Sandberg now in baseball mode

photo by John Lembo
 Welcome back Cord Sandberg, baseball player.
After putting the wraps on his final season quarterbacking Manatee's football team, Sandberg, a senior, is now readying himself for baseball.
It's a big year - Sandberg is considered a top prospect and could be a high pick during summer's amateur baseball draft, and he has already earned an invite to work out for the New York Mets in Port St. Lucie during the first weekend in January.
During the football season, Sandberg said he worked out a few times at The Sandlot @ 5 Tools, a baseball facility in downtown Bradenton operated by Manatee baseball coach Dwayne Strong.
"The past couple of years, I didn't really do any baseball during the football season," Sandberg said. "But this year is a little different."
A centerfielder, Sandberg is trying to get his arm back in baseball shape after spending the last four months throwing a football.
"It's different arm motions," he said. "Football is a quick release. With baseball, I'm trying to get long and get some carry on the ball."
Sandberg had a meet-and-greet with the Tampa Bay Rays and has also had visits with the Kansas City Royals and Arizona Diamondbacks. It's nothling like college football recruiting, which the Mississippi State commit knows well.
"College football, the coaches are coming in and telling you what they have and trying to get you to go there," Sandberg said. "With this, I have no say where I'm going. It's going to be kind of exciting when draft day comes, not knowing where I'm going to be for the next couple of years.
"I'd be glad to be part of any major league organization."

Prep girls basketball: Southeast's schedule gets tougher

photo by Grant Jefferies
Southeast girls basketball coach John Harder considers Class 5A-District 12 the toughest in the state.
Consequently, he has scheduled some tough opponents in the hopes of steeling his girls for the postseason.
The Seminoles, who are 10-1 overall and 2-1 in the district following Tuesday's loss to St. Petersburg Lakewood, host undefeated Sarasota on Thursday and meet Lakeland Kathleen on Wednesday in the first round of their own Willie Clemons tournament.
Kathleen went to the second round of last year's Class 6A state tournament.
Southeast then heads to Fort Myers Dunbar for Tiger Classic on Jan. 4 and 5. The Seminoles play host Dunbar, the defending Class 4A state champion, Jan. 4.
"I built the schedule knowing I was in the toughest district in the state," Harder said. "It's not we've ever ducked anybody, it's about getting better. And that's my job - I've got to help them get better."

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Prep basketball: Five boys teams in Riverview tournament

photo by Paul Videla
Raleigh Alexander and the Seminoles will be in action during next week's Suncoast Holiday Tournament at Riverview
 Southeast and Palmetto face off in the first round of the Suncoast Holiday Tournament at Riverview High in Sarasota.
The tournament begins Wednesday, Dec. 26 and wraps Saturday with the championship game, slated for 7:30 p.m.
Listed below are Wednesday's first-round pairings with local teams in bold.

Southeast vs. Palmetto, 3 p.m.
Cardinal Mooney vs. Carol City, 4:30 p.m.
Booker vs. Braden River, 6 p.m.
Manatee vs. Sarasota Christian, 7:30 p.m.

Riverview, Fort Myers, South Fort Myers and Tampa Sickles all received first-round byes.

Prep football: Manatee's Dawsey, Miller picked for FACA All-Star Game

photo by Grant Jefferies
 Manatee defensive tackle Marquis Dawsey and offensive lineman Thor Miller have been selected for the Florida Athletic Coaches Association All-Star Classic, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Firemen's Field in Sebring.
It's the 58th edition of the game.
Dawsey and Miller will be suiting up for the South team, which will be coached by Lake Wales' Rod Shafer.
Dawsey had 89 tackles, 14 1/2 sacks, two fumble recoveries, five caused fumbles and 22 hurries for Manatee. He also lined up at fullback and scored four touchdowns.
Miller is a two-year starter and the only senior on Manatee's line this year.

Prep baseball: Manatee alum Lance Carter named USF pitching coach

Manatee alum and Bradenton resident Lance Carter is back with another area baseball team.
USF announced on its website,, the school has hired Carter as the school's new pitching coach.
Carter also pitched at Manatee Community College (now State College of Florida) and spent six seasons in the big leagues after he was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in 1994.
Carter spent four seasons with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays (now the Rays) and was an All-Star in 2003 when he was seventh in the American League in saves (26) and fifth in games finished (55).
Carter, who also joins in on the radio broadcast for Manatee's football games, spent last season as the pitching coach for the Philadelphia Phillies' New York-Penn League team in Williamsport, Pa.

Prep sports: Lakewood Ranch leads Sunshine Cup after fall season

photo by Paul Videla
Cross country star Kristin Zarrella
Lakewood Ranch is first overall in Class 6A for the the 2012-13 FHSAA Floyd E. Lay Sunshine Cup All-Sports Awards Point Standings.
The Mustangs have totaled 379 points, well ahead of second place Fort Myers (298).
Points are awarded based on how each school did in each sports' state series. The top 16 places, and teams are given a five-point bonus for district and regional titles.
The Mustangs' volleyball team won its district and region en route to the final four, and the girls cross country team placed fifth in the Class 3A state team meet.
Lakewood Ranch's girls lead 6A with 201 points and the boys are third with 178.
The only other area school in the running is Manatee. The Hurricanes boys, lead by the football's team march to the Class 7A state final four, are tied for fifth in 7A with 93 points.

Prep basketball: Smoothie King Classic pairings

photo by Paul Videla
Bradenton Christian's gym hosts the Smoothie King Classic from Dec. 27-29
Six area teams will be in action for Bradenton Christian's Smoothie King Classic girls and boys basketball tournament, which gets underway Thursday, Dec. 27 and wraps Saturday, Dec. 29.
The girls championship game is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Saturday and the boys final is 8 p.m. Saturday.
Thursday's first-round pairings are listed below with local teams in bold.

Cape Coral vs. Brandon, 11 a.m.
Bayshore vs. Lennard, 2 p.m.
East Jackson, Ga. vs. East Bay, 5 p.m.
Bradenton Christian vs. Imagine School of North Port, 8 p.m.

Cardinal Mooney
vs. Clearwater Central Catholic, 9:30 a.m.
Bayshore vs. St. Petersburg Dixie Hollins, 12:30 p.m.
Manatee vs. Englewood Lemon Bay, 3:30 p.m.
Bradenton Christian vs. Tampa Alonso, 6:30 p.m.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Prep football: Sandberg 3rd, Kinnan 6th in final voting

photo by Grant Jefferies
Manatee quarterback Cord Sandberg placed third in the balloting for Mr. Football and coach Joe Kinnan took sixth in the final Coach of the Year voting, according to results announced Monday by the Florida Dairy Farmers.
Named the Class 7A state player of the year for the second straight season, Sandberg earned three first-place votes for Mr. Football and tallied 104 points.
The winner was Yulee's Travis Henry, who earned 18 first-place votes and 221 points.
Glades Day's Kelvin Taylor was second (139 points).
The Alabama-bound Henry set single-season state records for rushing yards (4,261), carries (462) and touchdowns (55). He set the all-time national career rushing record this year with 12,212 yards, breaking the 59-year-old mark set by Ken Hall, who ran for 11,232 while playing for Sugar Land, Texas from 1950-53.
The last local player to be named Mr. Football was Southeast's Adrian McPherson in 2000. Manatee's Shevin Wiggins took home the honor in 1993.
Kinnan tallied one first-place vote and 63 points in the Coach of the Year running after winning the honors in Class 7A.
The overall winner was Tim Harris of Miami's Booker T. Washington. This year's Class 4A coach of the year, Harris led the Tornadoes to a 14-1 record and a state championship.
Harris piloted Booker T. Washington to its other state title in '07 before he spent three years as an assistant at Miami. He returned to the Tornadoes last year.
Southeast's Paul Maechtle (1993) is the only area coach to win the award.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Prep wrestling: Palmetto's Christmas Clash scheduled for Saturday

photo by John Lembo
Palmetto's Tyler Williford will be in action during Saturday's Palmetto High Christmas Clash
Palmetto is hosting its first Palmetto High Christmas Clash on Saturday, a dual wrestling tournament featuring eight teams.
The field includes the host Tigers, Lakewood Ranch, Southeast, Booker, Sarasota, Sarasota Riverview, Sebring and Crystal River.
Wrestling is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. and is scheduled to wrap up at about 2 p.m., said Palmetto coach Bryan Wilkes.
It will be a busy winter for the Tigers, who host the Palmetto Duals on Jan. 12, a dual meet with Clearwater Central Catholic on Jan. 17 and the JV and varsity county championships Jan. 23 and 24.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Prep football: Manatee's newest rankings

photo by John Lembo
Ranked No.1 nationally by MaxPreps, ESPN and USA Today for much of the season, Manatee expectedly tumbled in those polls following Friday's loss at Fort Lauerdale St. Thomas Aquinas.
Here are the latest:

ESPN - The Canes dipped to No. 23 in the ESPN Super 25, with Bellevue (Wash.) taking over to the top spot. Previously unranked Aquinas hopped to No. 20 heading into Friday's Class 7A state final.
MaxPreps - The site put Manatee atop its Xcellent 25 over the summer dropped to the Hurricanes to No. 23 and put Texas' DeSoto in the top spot. The Raiders entered the poll at No. 20.
Rivals - Manatee was No.3 in the RivalsHigh 100 but plummeted to No. 27 in the latest poll. The Raiders? No. 26.
USA Today - The Canes dropped to No. 17 in the Super 25 as Louisiana's John Curtis took hold of the top spot. Aquinas No. 11.

Prep football: Kinnan, Sandberg earn 7A honors

photo by Grant Jefferies
 Cord Sandberg is once again the class of Class 7A.
Manatee's senior quarterback was named Player of the Year in Class 7A by the Florida Dairy Farmers and is a nominee for the Mr. Football Award for the second straight year.
Joe Kinnan was named the Class 7A Coach of the Year.
Sandberg for 2,672 yards, 35 touchdowns and an interception for Manatee, which went 13-1 and fell to Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas during Friday's 7A state semifinal.
Sandberg earned 208 points, easily beating Boyd Anderson's Gregory Hankerson (85) and Kissimmee Osceola's Stafon McCray (66).
Sandberg and Yulee's Derek Henry (4A) are the only repeat winners.
Other Mr. Football nominees include Tampa Wharton's Vernon Hargreaves III (8A), Columbia Laremy Tunsil (6A), Lake Nona's Tucker Isreal (Class 5A), Henry (4A), University School's Mike White (3A), Belle Glade Glades Day's Kelvin Taylor (2A) and Trenton's Cedric Stokes (1A).
Kinnan's competiton for Coach of the Year are Orlando Dr. Phillips' Rodney Wells (8A), Gainesville's James Thomson (Class 6A), Tampa Robinson's Mike DePue (5A), Booker T. Washington's Tim Harris (4A), University School's Roger Harriot (Class 3A), Dade Christian's Mike Sonneborn (2A), Trenton's Andrew Thomas (1A).

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Prep football: Manatee's Kinnan a coach of the year finalist

photo by John Lembo

Manatee coach Joe Kinnan is one of six finalaists for the 2013 Xenith National Coach of the Year award.
Kinnan's Hurricanes are 13-0 and ranked No.1 in the nation by ESPN, MaxPreps and USA Today heading into Friday's Class 7A state semifinal against Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas.
Kinnan is the only Florida coach among the six finalists. Other nominees are Claude Mathis, DeSoto (Texas); J.T. Curtis, Curtis (Lousiana); Butch Goncharoff, Bellevue (Washington); Brian Hales, Butler (N.C.); and Mike Jinks, Steele (Texas).
The winner will be announced Friday, Jan. 4 at the U.S. Army All-American Awards dinner in San Antonio.
Manatee has won five state titles under Kinnan, who took over the program in 1981.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Prep football: PAL Bowl rosters

Herald file photo
The 21st Brad Price Memorial PAL Bowl will be played Friday, Dec. 21 at Southeast High.
Seminoles' coach Paul Maechtle will coach Manatee County while former Southeast standout and current Out-of-Door Academy coach Brett Timmons will lead Sarasota County.
The series is tied 10-10.
Listed below are the rosters for Manatee County and players from ODA and Cardinal Mooney.

BAYSHORE - Calvin Williams, RB; Jonathan Lewis, QB/WR; Erick Ayvar, OL; Jonathon Ramirez, OL.
BRADEN RIVER - Eric Shoppacher, LB; Austin Rain, RB; Trevon Young, OL/DL.
LAKEWOOD RANCH - Ki-Jana Brown, DB; Andre Christiano, DB; Luke Sears, LB; Michael Farhat, OL; Cory Adams, OL; Michael Iacobelli, DL.
MANATEE - Willie Smith, DB; Darrian Mabrey, DB; Cord Sandberg, QB; Dentrell Muller, DB; Daren Ardis, DB; Malik Brooks, DB; Marquis Dawsey, DL; John McElfresh, LB; Blake Keller, DL; Jonathan Hernandez, P; Thor Miller, OL; Gregory Moss, K;  Ja Juan Pollock, WR; Anthony Lauro, WR.
PALMETTO - Stevon Saunders, DB; Cory Crawford, RB/WR; Austin Cavey, LB; Josh Layhew, DL; Joe Bundrage, OL/DL; Kelvin Stuckey, OL/DL; E.J. Burston, WR; Shaquille Harris, WR.
SAINT STEPHEN'S - Herman Israelsson, RB.
SOUTHEAST - Jordan Grabski, DB; Eric Thompson, DB; Myles Braxton-Johnson, QB; James Barnes, LB/DB; Rakeem Williams, LB/DE; Terrence Houston, DL; Raleigh Alexander, OL; Jacob Sannon, WR; Jayson Collymore, DE.

CARDINAL MOONEY - Ryan Branch, SS/WR; Elijah Toussaint, WR; Anthony Caiazzo, RB; Nick Levanduski, WR.
OUT-OF-DOOR ACADEMY - Evan Wilson, QB; Brandon Place, WR/DB; Sean Kirshe, K; Wyatt Page, LB.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Prep football: Looking back at Manatee-Aquinas matchups

photo by Grant Jefferies
Joe Kinnan and Cord Sandberg are a win away from another state final
 Here we go again - Manatee vs. Fort Lauderdale with a spot in a state title game on the line.
This is the fifth time since 2005 the Hurricanes and Raiders have met in a state semifinal, and the second time they have done it in Class 7A.
Here is a look at the previous meetings:

2005: Raiders 45, Hurricanes 17 - Joe Kinnan's return to the sideline was a triumphant one, as the Hurricanes won their first regional title in 11 years after not making the playoffs in 2004. But Manatee's season was stopped cold by the Raiders, who cruised at Hawkins Stadium. Quarterback Wesley Carroll threw for four Aquinas touchdowns while Manatee lost its quarterback, Ryan Rubino, to a second-quarter knee injury. Manatee drew to within 24-17 in the third quarter, but the Raiders, ranked seventh in the nation at the time, scored the final three touchdowns. Aquinas lost to Lakeland the following week in the 5A state final.

2006: Raiders 36, Hurricanes 29 2 OT - The rematch was in Fort Lauderdale this time, but it was all Manatee early. The Hurricanes' stout defense was able to tee off on a Raiders team playing without an injured Carroll, and Manatee carried a 15-0 lead into halftime while not allowing Aquinas a first down. But a pair of huge third-quarter plays helped turn the tide. First, Jeremiah Harden's 82-yard punt return for a touchdown sliced Manatee's lead to 15-7. Then Major Wright returned an interception 74 yards to Manatee's 12, and the Raiders later tied the game at 15. Manatee squandered a pair of leads, including a 29-22 advantage in the first overtime period, and the Raiders landed in the state final for a third straight year. Interestingly enough, Aquinas lost to Lakeland in two overtimes the following week in the 5A championship game.

2009: Hurricanes 28, Raiders 20: Manatee had re-established itself as a state power prior to this, winning a pair of regional titles and making the playoffs in three of four seasons since Kinnan returned to the sideline. But Dec. 11, 2009, was the night the Hurricanes' began their ultimate revival, beating a Raiders team that had won 37 straight games back-to-back 5A state titles and the 2008 prep national title, and owned the No.1 ranking in the nation. Manatee led 10-7 at the half and stretched the lead to 21-7 when Darian Evans returned an interception 35 yards for a touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter. The Raiders drew to within eight with 2:13 remaining, but Manatee senior Ace Sanders fell on the ensuing onside kick to clinch one of the biggest wins in team history. The Canes fell to Tampa Plant in the 5A final the following week, but the win put the them on the national radar. Manatee has been there ever since.

2010: Raiders 31, Hurricanes 7: With the previous year's upset fresh in their minds, the Raiders rolled in the rematch in Fort Lauderdale, routing a Manatee team fresh off its first undefeated season since 1990. Aquinas' defense limited Manatee to 11 first downs and 24 rushing yards while sacking quarterback Cord Sandberg three times. Aquinas defeated Tampa Plant the following week to clinch its sixth state title and third in four years. The Raiders were also named the prep national champion's by ESPN. Manatee, meanwhile, won the 7A state the following year and has not lost to a state school since.

Prep football: Bayshore's Gordon retires

photo by Tiffany Tompkins-Condie
Bayshore football coach Jean P. Gordon has retired, according to athletic director Chris Brady.
Gordon went 25-44 in seven seasons with the Bruins, and his best season was 2011, when he went 5-5.
Gordon sent a letter of resignation to principal David Underhill and notified his players Monday morning, Brady said.
For more on this story, check Tuesday's edition of The Bradenton Herald.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Prep football: Manatee's Willie Smith done for the year

photo by Grant Jefferies
Manatee defensive back Willie Smith is done for the season after being diagnosed with a torn ligament in a knee.
A senior who has committed to Florida International, Smith suffered the injury Friday against Venice and had an MRI taken Wednesday.
"All I can do is just stay here and be here for my team off the field," Smith said Wednesday after watching his teammates prepare for Friday's Class 7A-Region 3 title game againt Fort Pierce Central. "Just do what I can for my team from the sideline."
Smith, who will undergo surgery next week, hopes to report to FIU at 100 percent.
"If not, redshirt," he said, "or do whatever I've got to do."
Smith leads the Hurricanes with four interceptions this season. He also missed two games during the regular season with a hamstring injury.

Prep football: Manatee's Trevon Walters ready for Friday

photo by Tiffany Tompkins-Condie
Manatee's leading rusher will be back for Friday's regional final.
Trevon Walters, who twisted his ankle during the first round of the Class 7A playoffs and didn't play last week against Venice, will be in the backfield when the Hurricanens head to Fort Pierce Central for the Region 3 championship game.
"He's good," coach Joe Kinnan said. "He practiced (Tuesday)...looks good. He'll be 100 percent by Friday."
A junior, Walters has rushed for 945 yards and has scored 16 touchdowns this year for Manatee. He was in uniform Friday but didn't play in Manatee's 56-7 win.
In his place was freshman Johnnie Lang, who rushed for 84 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries, a performance that may have earned him more playing time this postseason.
"It's good to have two guys that, right now, we have a lot of confidence in," Kinnan said. "(Lang)'s gotten better and better, and that makes both of them better. Competition. Nothing wrong with competition."

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Prep football: Who's having more fun than Joe Kinnan?

photo by John Lembo
Joe Kinnan's Hurricanes look to run their winning streak to 24 Friday night against Venice in a Region 3 semifinal
If you think Joe Kinnan is enjoying Manatee's recent golden age, you're right.
Yes, that was Manatee's head coach arguing vehemently during last Friday's Class 7A-Region 3 playoff opener when his Hurricanes were flagged with a procedure penalty during a win over St. Petersburg Northeast.
But Manatee's venerable head coach doesn't have much to complain about these days. And it shows.
This is a kindler, gentler Joe Kinnan, one who routinely cracks a smile during practice and encouraged his team to stay for the girls soccer match following Tuesday's workout.
"We're undefeated. How can you not enjoy (it)?", said Kinnan, whose Canes host Venice on Friday in a Region 3 semifinal. "We've got great leadership, we've got a great group of kids. They're fun to be around, they have a good time, they enjoy playing and that's good."
Good enough for Kinnan to return next season?
"I always go year to year," he said. "I always evaluate at the end of the year."
Not that this season isn't worth his attention. Manatee is 11-0 and has won 23 straight games. The Hurricanes have scored 567 points this season and are ranked No.1 nationally by ESPN, MaxPreps and USA Today.
Friday they meet the Indians, they're District 10 foes, in the second round of the playoffs for the third straight year. Manatee won the last two postseason games and has won the teams' last five meetings overall.
"I'm sure they're going to onside kick and run every trick they play they've got in their back pocket, and run their options, which they did a good job of before and we didn't defend real well," Kinnan said. "Defensively, they're going to give us a few different looks...they've showed several different fronts in the last two game films.
"So we'll just have to wait and see. We'll just have to recognize what they do, go out and go get 'em."
The winner meets either Fort Pierce Central or Stuart Martin County on Nov. 30 for the Region 3 championship and a berth in the final four.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Prep soccer: Nike Thanksgiving High School Soccer Tournament begins Monday

photo by Tiffany Tompkins-Condie
The 2012 Nike Thanksgiving High School Soccer Tournament runs Monday through Wednesday at the Premier Sports Complex in Lakewood Ranch.
Braden River and Palmetto will compete in the boys and girls divisions and Lakewood Ranch and Manatee will send boys teams.
Listed below are the groups, as well as pairings involving area teams.

GROUP A - Braden River, Clearwater Central Catholic, Clearwater, Tampa Wharton; GROUP B - Palmetto, Tampa Catholic, East Lake, Flagler Palm Coast; GROUP C - Seminole, Tampa Plant, Tampa Leto, Auburndale.
GROUP A - Tampa Jesuit, Seminole, Riverview, Tampa Leto; GROUP B - Lakewood Ranch, Clearwater Central Catholic, East Lake, Tampa King; GROUP C - Manatee, Cape Coral Mariner, Palm Harbor, Auburndale; GROUP D - Braden River, Palmetto, Clearwater, Countryside.

GIRLSEast Lake vs. Palmetto, 9 a.m. Field 1
Clearwater vs. Braden River, 4 p.m., Field 1
Braden River vs. Countryside, 9 a.m., Field 2
East Lake vs. Lakewood Ranch, 2 p.m., Field 2
Clearwater vs. Palmetto, 2 p.m., Field 3
Cape Coral Mariner vs. Manatee, 6 p.m., Field 3

Flagler Palm Coast vs. Palmetto, 2 p.m., Field 2
Braden River vs. Clearwater Central Catholic, 6 p.m., Field 1
Tampa Catholic vs. Palmetto, 6 p.m., Field 2
Tampa Wharton vs. Braden  River, 2 p.m., Field 1
Manatee vs. Auburndale, 9 a.m., Field 1
Palmetto vs. Coutryside, 9 a.m., Field 2
Clearwater vs. Braden River, 11 a.m., Field 2
Lakewood Ranch vs. Tampa King, 11 a.m., Field 3
Manatee vs. Palm Harbor, 2 p.m., Field 3
Braden River vs. Palmetto, 8 p.m., Field 1

Group A winner vs. Group C winner, 2 p.m., Field 1
Group B winner vs. Wild card (based on points), 4 p.m., Field 1
Group A runner-up vs. Group C runner-up, 2 p.m., Field 2
Group B runner-up vs. Group D runner-up, 2 p.m., Field 3
Group A winner vs. Group B winner, 4 p.m., Field 2
Group C winner vs. Group D winner, 4 p.m., Field 3

Friday, November 16, 2012

Prep football: Looking back on Manatee's perfect regular seasons

Manatee opens the Class 7A-Region 3 playoffs at home tonight against St. Petersburg Northeast, and the Hurricanes will be doing so on the heels of a perfect regular season, their fifth under coach Joe Kinnan.
Will it result in a state title?
Time will tell.
Here is a rundown of Manatee's other undefeated teams and how some of them fared in the postseason.
(A big thank you for to Herald assistant sports editor Tad Reeve and his incredibly well-researched book, 1989's Manatee Magic.)

1915, 9-0: Long before Kinnan roamed the sideline and the likes of Tommie Frazier and Cord Sandberg ran the offense, there were the Manatee Maroons, and they were good. Crazy good. Coached by Julian C. Howard, a science teacher who brought football to Manatee in 1914, the Maroons not only won every game, they didn't allow a point. The Maroons featured 13 players and played six teams - Plant City, St. Petersburg and Tampa appeared on the schedule twice - including Palmetto. Manatee closed the season with a 10-0 win over Gainesville in what was considered the mythical state championship game - the Florida High School Athletic Association didn't start officially crowning state champs until 1963.
1955, 9-0-1: Consider this Manatee's first real golden age. Led by Wheeler Leeth, Manatee won the last two games of the '54 season before winning the Western Conference championship in '55. The season began with a 13-0 win over Tampa Plant, which had defeated the Canes in 13 of the previous 14 games. It was key win - Plant went 6-1 in the conference, Manatee went 7-0 to clinch the title. Leading the way was  halfback George Henderson, who needed just 104 carries to total 907 yards and score 15 touchdowns, while Donald "Duck" Lewis, who weighed 225 pounds, anchored the offensive line. Manatee's only stumble was a 19-19 tie against Fort Myers in Week 7.
1956, 8-0-2: Leeth and his boys continued their roll, splitting the conference championship with Tampa Hillsborough after the teams played to 6-6 tie. Henderson had another big year, rushing for more yards in '56 (945) despite having fewer attempts (96) than he did the year before. He scored 18 touchdowns and added 10 extra points, giving him 118 points on the season. Manatee, which also played Tampa Plant to a draw, ran its winning streak to 24 before losing to Plant during the third game of the '57 season.
1983, 14-0: With all due respect to the 1915 Maroons, the '83 edition may be the best in school history. What's undisputed is these Hurricanes brought the school its first official state championship after scoring a 27-21 over Miami Southride in the Class 4A title game. With Kinnan on the sideline for the third year, the Hurricanes scored four shutouts, including three straight against Seminole, Orlando Park Ridge and Northeast, and were quarterbacked by Tracy Sanders, who now coaches Manatee's defensive backs. Of Kinnan's five undefeated regular seasons, this was the only one that resulted in a state championship.
1984, 12-0: The Hurricanes' defense of their first official state championship got off to a promising start. Manatee rolled in the regular season, scoring blowouts over everyone but Riverview (21-17), winning by an average of 33 points and climbing to No.1 in the state and No.3 in the country. The Canes opened the playoffs with a 42-14 Tampa Chamberlain, but were stunned in the sectional playoffs to Lakeland, which scored a 19-14 win. The game was later awarded to Manatee via a forfeit, but it didn't prevent Hurricanes fans from wondering what might have been.
1990, 12-1: A year after winning the program's third state title in seven years, the Hurricanes looked unstoppable heading into the Class 5A playoffs and were ranked ninth by USA Today prior to a state semifinal at Fort Walton Beach Choctawhatchee. But the Indians were too much for the Hurricanes, scoring a 35-14 win and putting an abrupt end to the Canes' 20-game winning streak. Manatee ran up 406 yards of offense but trailed 21-0 at the half, as the Indians needed 39 carries to run for 252 yards. The Hurricanes won another state title two years later, but wouldn't have another defeated season for 20 years.
2010, 13-1: Manatee jumped back into the national conversation in 2009 after beating Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas, considered the best team in the nation, in a Class 5A state semifinal, and the Hurricanes kept the momentum flowing the following fall. Led by Sandberg, then a sophomore, Manatee rolled to its first district title in four years and its fourth regional title in six years. But this team was hit hard with injuries. Running back Mike Blakely struggled with ankle injuries during most of the second half of the season, and defensive linemen Drakkar Wilson and Quinton Pompey suffered knee injuries on consecutive series during a first-round playoff game against Northeast. Both underwent surgery, but Pompey never returned. The Hurricanes met Aquinas again in the semifinals, but things didn't go as well as they did the year before - the Raiders cruised, 31-7, and beat Tampa Plant the following week to win the 5A title. Manatee hasn't lost to a Florida school since.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Prep wrestling: Williford is first Palmetto Tiger to earn scholarship

photo by John Lembo
Tyler Williford made history Wednesday inside Palmetto's auditorium
 Chalk up another first for Palmetto's wrestling team.
Senior Tyler Williford signed a letter-of-intent Wednesday with the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, making him the first Tigers wrestler to earn a scholarship.
Williford said he will earn a major scholarship from the Divsion II school.
The Tigers began fielding a wrestling team in 2005.
"It's pretty exciting," Williford said Wednesday before signing his letter inside Palmetto's auditorium while about two dozen relatives, friends and teammates watched.
Williford caught the Braves attention while Palmetto was competing in the Disney Duals over the summer.
"This all happened in about three months," said Bryan Wilkes, who has coached Palmetto's program since it began. "We're hoping this starts a good relationship with UNC Pembroke."
An Ellenton resident, Williford began wrestling eight years ago with the Manatee Kids Wrestling Club and has been on Palmetto's varsity team since freshman year.
He was 25-9 last season wrestling at 152 and 160 pounds and came within a victory of reaching the Class 2A state tournament.
The Braves finished third last season at the NCAA Division II national championships and began this season ranked 12th in the nation.
"We were talking to a lot of people and getting my name out there and stuff," Williford said. "But this is the one where we actually made full contact and talked. It's real nice - me and my coach talked about getting this done early so I could focus on school and wrestling and stuff, and didn't have to worry about where I was going."
While Wednesday was a big day for Williford, it served as another step in the right direction for Palmetto's wrestling program.
"The other kids see there is opportunity now," Wilkes said. "This is the first time that I have kids asking me, 'Hey coach, do you think I can get a scholarship?'"

Prep basketball: Smaller field set for Willie Clemons Classic

photo by Grant Jefferies
Southeast coach John Harder hosts the 9th Annual Wille Clemons Classic, beginning Dec. 26.
The 9th Annual Willie Clemons Classic will be smaller than in years past, with eight teams slated to take part in the three-day girls basketball tournament that runs from Dec. 26-28 at Southeast.
The field used to feature 16 teams.
Listed below are the first-round pairings. Local teams are listed in bold.

Venice vs. Gulfport Boca Ciega, 2 p.m.
Riverview vs. Seminole, 3:30 p.m.
Lakewood Ranch vs. Tampa Sickles, 5 p.m.
Lakeland Kathleen vs. Southeast, 6:30 p.m.

The semifinals are scheduled for 5 p.m. and 6:30 on Dec. 27, and the championship game will be played 6:30 on Dec. 28.
The consolation final will be played 3:30 p.m. on the 28th.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Prep football: Southeast playoff tickets on sale Wednesday

photo by Tiffany Tompkins-Condie
Tickets for the Southeast’s Class 5A-Region 3 quarterfinal against Lake Wales will be available at Southeast’s front office 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Wednesday through Friday.

The cost is $9 for reserve and $8 for general admission.
The game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday at Southeast.

Prep volleyball: Lakewood Ranch not just happy to be in final four

photo by Tiffany Tompkins-Condie
Seniors Emily Ruple (left), Mariah Robertson (center) and Jordan Wopinski (right) helped the Mustangs make history this fall.
 The 2012 Lakewood Ranch volleyball team will never be forgotten.
Trailblazers are remembered forever, and the Mustangs are just that. They make the program's first final four appearance noon today when the Mustangs meet St. Augustine in a Class 6A state semifinal at the Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee.
It's a big achievement. But the Mustangs are planning to do more than just show up today.
"We're not holding anything back (Tuesday)," said senior libero Jordan Wopinski.
Added senior hitter Mariah Robertson: "It's strictly business."
Lakewood Ranch nearly reached this point last year before falling to Tarpon Springs in the Region 3 final. The Mustangs have been striving toward the final four ever since.
"We felt like we had a really strong group coming back," said coach Perri Hankins. "The seniors have been great this year with their leadership and play on the court.
"After last year, we definitely at that moment made the goal that we're going to get to state this year."
Now, the goal is to win it.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Prep football: Manatee closes season ranked tops in 7A

photo by Tiffany Tompkins-Condie
Trevon Walters and Manatee head into the playoffs ranked tops in the state in Class 7A
As expected, Manatee closed the regular season ranked No.1 in Class 7A in the latest AP Poll, which was released Monday.
The Hurricanes, who defeated Lakewood Ranch on Friday to go 10-0 for the second time in three years, have been ranked No.1 since defeating Jacksonville First Coast in last year's 7A state championship game.
Manatee earned all 14 first-place votes in the latest poll. The Hurricanes open the Region 3 playoffs Friday at home against St. Petersburg Northeast.
Southeast was off last week and heads into the playoffs ranked ninth in the state in Class 5A. The Seminoles (8-2) host Winter Haven in the first round. 
Ranked first in 5A for much of the season, Palmetto was bumped out of the top 10 after back-to-back losses to Manatee and Southeast. The 8-2 Tigers did receive three votes, but that wasn't enough to get them back in the top 10.
Palmetto closed the regular season with a 27-7 win over Ocala Trinity Catholic. The Tigers head to Auburndale on Friday.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Prep cross country: Local regional runners

photo by Paul Videla
Kristin Zarrella and Lakewood Ranch's girls cross country team are looking for a return to the state meet
 The regional cross country meets are scheduled for Friday and Saturday.
Listed below are the area's regional qualifiers.
The top six teams and 15 individuals qualify for the state cross country meet, scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 17 at Apalachee Regional Park in Tallahassee.

When: 9 a.m. Saturday
Where: McIntosh Middle School
Locals: Manatee's girls team, Chris Pate (Manatee).

When: Friday, TBA
Where: Estero Commiunty Park
Locals: Lakewood Ranch's girls team, Lakewood Ranch's boys team, Canaan Meester-Kitterman (Bayshore), Alexis Cullen (Braden River)

When: 8 a.m. Saturday
Where: Holiday Anclote High
Locals: Southeast's girls team, David Marvel (Southeast), Cole Tuttle (Southeast)

When: 10 a.m. Saturday
Where: Melbourne Holy Trinity
Locals: Saint Stephen's girls team, Carling Landenche (Out-of-Door Academy), Grace Casagrande (Cardinal Mooney), Saint Stephen's boys team, Peter Runge (Out-of-Door Academy), Cal Turner Davidson (Cardinal Mooney).

Prep football: Manatee looking to pad two impressive streaks Friday

photo by Grant Jefferies
It's been a long time since coach Manatee coach Joe Kinnan and quarterback Cord Sandberg have lost to a Florida school
Manatee hosts Lakewood Ranch on Friday with a chance to go 10-0 for the second time in three years.
Impressive, right?
What's even more impressive, however, is a pair of streaks the Hurricanes are looking to lenghten at the Mustangs' expense.
First, they are looking to run their county winning streak to 24 games.
Second, Manatee is hoping to win its 28th straight regular-season game against Florida schools.
In fact, quarterback Cord Sandberg has never lost to a state school in the regular season. The only Florida team to beat Manatee with Sandberg running the offense is Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquians in the 2010 Class 5A state semifinals.
Want to know the last county and state teams to beat the Hurricanes?
Check out my story in Friday's edition of The Bradenton Herald.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Prep football: Manatee's opponent wrong on FHSAA website

photo by John Lembo
Who will Cord Sandberg and Manatee meet in the 7A-Region 3 playoffs next Friday?
 Manatee opens the Class 7A-Region 3 playoffs at home Nov. 16 against St. Petersburg Northeast.
The Florida High School Association, however, has the the Hurricanes hosting Largo Pinellas Park in the 7A bracket.
This time, the FHSAA is wrong, though it is understandable.
Going strictly by what happened on the field, Clearwater Countryside won District 9 and Pinellas Park was the runner-up.
Consequently, Pinellas Park was to head to Bradenton while Countryside hosted Venice in a the first round.
But Countryside was docked by the FHSAA for the use of ineligble player and had to forefeit six games, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
So Pinellas Park is the district champ and hosts Venice.
Northeast in the runner-up and Countryside will miss the postseason.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Prep football: Southeast in, Palmetto out of 5A top 10

photo by Tiffany Tompkins-Condie
The Southeast Seminoles not only played well enough to win a district title last week, they made their way into the Class 5A top 10 for the first time this season.
Southeast is ranked ninth in the state in Class 5A in the latest poll, released Monday.
The Seminoles beat Palmetto last Friday to clinch the District 10 title. Southeast (8-2) is off this week and hosts Lake Wales on Nov. 16 in a Region 3 quarterfinal.
Palmetto has lost two straight since beginning the season 7-0 and is out of the top 10 after owning the No.1 ranking for most the fall. The Tigers host Ocala Trinity Catholic on Friday before opening the playoffs at Auburndale.
Manatee, as expected, maintained its top spot in Class 7A after beating Sarasota to win the District 10 title. The Hurricanes have been No.1 since winning the state title last December.
The Hurricanes received all 14 first-place votes this week after second-ranked Jacksonville First Coast earned a top vote last week.  Manatee beat First Coast in last year's championship game.
Manatee is 9-0 and takes a 21-game winning streak into Friday's game against Lakewood Ranch. The Hurricanes are looking to wrap their second undefeated regular season in three years before opening the Class 7A-Region 3 playoffs at home against St. Petersburg Northeast.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Prep football: Breaking down Manatee County's three big ballgames

photo by Grant Jefferies
Manatee and its stacked defensive line look to clinch the Class 7A-District 10 title tonight.
Tonight marks the final week of the district portion of play, which means by Saturday mornin we will know how many teams are heading to the playoffs, which gets underway Nov. 16.
Three games tonight have playoff implications.
Here they are:

SARASOTA (5-3, 1-1 7A-10) at MANATEE (8-0, 2-0)
At stake: Despite their 20-game winning streak and a No.1 national ranking in three separate polls (ESPN, MaxPreps and USA Today), the Hurricanes haven't officially locked up a district title or even a playoff berth. They're heavy favorites, however, heading into tonight's game with the Sailors, and will clinch the District 10 championship with a win. A Hurricanes win means they host the District 9 runner-up, which will be Clearwater Countryside, Pinellas Park or St. Petersburg Northeast. All three are in the mix tonight to win the district or advance as the runner-up.
SOUTHEAST (7-2, 3-0 5A-10) at PALMETTO (7-1, 3-0)
At stake: The Seminoles and Tigers are the only area teams to officially seal a trip to the playoffs, but tonight's game decides the district champion and the host of a first-round playoff game. The losing team heads to the winner of tonight's District 9 title game between Lake Wales and Auburndale, while the loser of that games heads west to Manatee County.
SEMINOLE OSCEOLA (6-3, 3-1 6A-7) at LAKEWOOD RANCH (5-3, 3-1)
At stake: The math is simple - winner heads to the playoffs, loser doesn't. The Mustangs won last year's meeting in Pinellas County before nearly upsetting nationally-ranked Seffner Armwood in the first round of the Region 3 playoffs. Neither team gave district champ Largo much a game this season, though the Warriors found the end zone in a 41-20 defeat while the Mustangs didn't, losing 38-0. Will that have any bearing on tonight's game? Tonight's winner opens the playoffs at Tampa Hillsborough, the District 8 champion that upset Armwood (3-0) on Oct. 18.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Prep volleyball: And then there was one...

photo by Tom Hubbard
Ashlyn Falahee serves during Lakewood Ranch's regional win Tuesday over Dover Strawberry Crest. The Mustangs are the only locals left standing in the volleyball postseason.
 The opening round of the regional volleyball tournaments wasn't kind to area teams, as three squads were eliminated Wednesday.
The only team left standing is Lakewood Ranch, which hosts Tampa Sickles on Tuesday in Class 6A-Region 3 semifinals.
The Mustangs beat Dover Strawberry Crest in Tuesday's quarterfinals.
Listed below are Wednesday's results.

Stuart Martin County 3, Manatee 1
Clearwater Calvary Christian 3, Saint Stephen's 2
Clearwater Central Catholic 3, Out-of-Door Academy 0

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Prep football: Manatee holds steady in national rankings

photo by Tom O'Neill
Blake Keller's Manatee Hurricanes are No.1 in three national polls
Manatee is still the one in three national polls and second-best in another.
The Hurricanes, who ran their record to 8-0 following Friday's 62-0 win over Palmetto, remained No.1 in the nation in the eyes of ESPN, MaxPreps and USA Today.
Manatee is still ranked No.2 in the RivalsHigh 100 behind Louisiana's John Curtis.
The Canes look to lock up the Class 7A-District 10 crown Friday night at home against Sarasota.

Prep football: Tickets available for Southeast-Palmetto game

photo by Tiffany Tompkins-Condie
Quarterback Myles Braxton-Johnson leads Southeast into Palmetto on Friday with the Class 5A-District 10 title on the line.
Tickets for Friday's game between Southeast and Palmetto are available at both schools.
The cost is $6.
The game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Harllee Stadium. The Seminoles and Tigers have already clinched playoff berths, but Friday's game will decide the Class 5A-District 10 champion.
Friday marks Southeast's last regular-season game of the year as the Noles are on a bye during Week 11. Palmetto closes the regular season Nov. 9 against visiting Ocala Trinity Catholic.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Prep volleyball: Manatee headed to Stuart Martin County

photo by Paul Videla
Manatee opens the regional playoffs against the defending Class 7A state champion
 It took a few days, but the Hurricanes know where they are headed  Wednesday.
Manatee opens the Class 7A-Region 3 tournament at Stuart Martin County, who beat Okeechobee for the District 12 title Monday night.
The Martin County-Okeechobee game was scheduled for last Thursday but postponed because of Hurricane Sandy.
This marks Martin County's 23rd straight regional tournament berth and won the Class 7A state title last season over Winter Springs.
The Hurricanes are back in the regional playoffs for the first time in four years after falling to Venice 3-2 in the District 11 final.

Prep football: Manatee stays at No.1, Palmetto falls in latest AP Poll

photo by Tiffany Tompkins-Condie
Cord Sandberg and the Manatee Hurricanes are still No.1 in Class 7A
 Manatee's 62-0 win over Palmetto on Friday had an expected effect on The Associated Press state football poll.
The 8-0 Hurricanes stayed at No.1 in Class 7A, though Jacksonville First Coast did snag one first-place vote. Manatee beat First Coast in last year's state final.
Palmetto (7-1) lost its stronghold at No.1, falling to No.6, though the Tigers did receive one first-place vote.
They began the season ranked third.
Wakulla is the new No.1 in 5A.
Southeast received seven votes at Class 5A. The Seminoles head to Palmetto on Friday in a game that will decide the District 10 title.
Manatee will look to lock up the Class 7A-District 10 championship at home against Sarasota.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Prep cross country: District meets this week

photo by Timothy R. Wolfrum
County champion Katie Wray and the Mustangs will be in Estero on Friday morning
 The cross country postseason gets underway this week. Listed below is where each othe area's teams will be competing.

Where: Lithia Newsome
When: 4:30 p.m. Thursday
Locals: Manatee
Rest of field: Lithia Newsome, Plant City Durant, Nort Port, Riverview (Sarasota), Riverview.

Where: Estero Community Park
When: 8 a.m. Friday
Locals: Braden River, Lakewood Ranch, Palmetto
Rest of field: Cape Coral Island Coast, Estero, Fort Myers Cypress Lake, Port Charlotte, Punta Gorda Charlotte, Venice.

Where: Dover Horse Trails, Dover
When:  2 p.m. Tuesday
Locals: Bayshore
Rest of field: Brandon, Dover Strawberry Crest, Gibsontown East Bay, Ruskin Lennard, Seffner Armwood.

Where: Oscar Scherer State Park
When:  10 a.m. Friday
Locals: Southeast
Rest of field: Arcaida DeSoto, Booker, Lehigh Acres Lehigh, Riverview Spoto, St. Petersburg Lakewood, Wauchula Hardee.

Where: Taylor Park, St. Petersburg
When: 9:30 a.m. Friday
Locals: Cardinal Mooney, Out-of-Door Academy, Saint Stephen's
Rest of field: St. Petersburg Admiral Farragut, St. Petersburg Canterbury, St. Petersburg Catholic, St. Petersburg Keswick Christian, St. Petersburg Northside Christian, St. Petersburg Shorecrest Prep, Sarasota Christian.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Prep football: A look at Manatee's county winning streak

photo by Tiffany Tompkins-Condie
Quarterback Cord Sandberg was still in grade school the last time Manatee lost to a county team
Manatee ran its county winning streak to 23 following Friday's 62-0 win over Palmetto, a span that stretches back to 2006. The Hurricanes last loss to a local came on Aug. 25 of that year, when they fell to Southeast 28-21 during a weather-delayed game at John Kiker Memorial Stadium.
Here is a look at Manatee's county wins since. The Hurricanes host Sarasota in a Class 7A-District 10 game Friday but close out the regular season Nov. 2 against another county team, Lakewood Ranch.

9/15 - Manatee 21, Lakewood Ranch 7
8/31 - Manatee 35, Bayshore 6
9/14 - Manatee 28, Southeast 16
11/2 - Manatee 24, Lakewood Ranch 7
9/5 -   Manatee 35, Bayshore 0
9/19 - Manatee 16, Southeast 14
11/7 - Manatee 41, Lakewood Ranch 13
9/4  -   Manatee 45, Bayshore 0
9/11 - Manatee 35, Palmetto 3
9/18 - Manatee 30, Southeast 26
10/2 - Manatee 35, Lakewood Ranch 14
10/16 - Manatee 14, Braden River 7
9/10 - Manatee 56, Palmetto 36
9/18 - Manatee 31, Southeast 24
10/1 - Manatee 34, Lakewood Ranch 7
10/15 - Manatee 24, Braden River 7
9/30 - Manatee 48, Southeast 6
10/7 - Manatee 63, Braden River 0
10/28 - Manatee 29, Palmetto 26
11/11 - Manatee 38, Lakewood Ranch 7
9/28 - Manatee 52, Southeast 13
10/5 - Manatee 56, Braden River 0
10/26 - Manatee 62, Palmetto 0
11/2 - Lakewood Ranch at Manatee, 7:30 p.m.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Prep volleyball: Regional pairings. Well, almost.

photo by Paul Videla
Tori Biach and the Saint Stephen's Falcons open the Class 3A-Region 3 playoffs at home
 Listed below are the pairings for the regional volleyball tournament, which gets underway Tuesday and Wednesday.
All matches begin at 7 p.m.
Manatee is still awaiting an opponent. The Hurricanes fell in five to Venice during Thursday's Class 7A-District 11 final and will travel to the District 12 champion, either Stuart Martin County or Okeechobee, on Wednesday.
But the District 12 final was postponed Thursday because of Hurricane Sandy and a make-up date hasn't been announced.
Tuesday and Wednesday's winners advance to the semifinals, scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 6.

Dover Strawberry Crest at Lakewood Ranch
Manatee at Stuart Martin County/Okeechobee winner
Clearwater Calvary Christian at Saint Stephen's
Out-of-Door Academy at Clearwater Central Catholic

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Prep football: Manatee events to be streamed live online

Manatee's athletic events will be streamed live on
The FHSAA Network is operated by PlayON! Sports.
All sports will be streamed on the website, as well as classic Manatee football games such as the 1983 state championship game against Miami Southridge and last year's 7A state final against Jacksonville First Coast.

Prep football: Why Palmetto is pulling for Southeast on Friday

photo by John Lembo
Dave Marino and his Tigers can get a big assist from Southeast on Friday night
Palmetto plays at Manatee on Friday in the area's biggest game this year.
The Tigers, however, should be pulling for the Hurricanes' biggest rivals - the Southeast Seminoles.
Southeast hosts Wauchula Hardee tonight in a Class 5A-District 10 contest.
A Seminoles victory makes them and Palmetto 3-0 in the district and clinches a playoff berth for both, and turns next week's Southeast-Palmetto contest into the district championship game.
A Hardee win makes things a tad more complicated, as Hardee and Southeast would each be 2-1.
A Wildcats victory next week coupled with a Seminoles victory over Palmetto puts all three teams at 3-1 and sends them into a three-way tiebreaker for the district's two playoff spots.
Or two Wildcats victories and a Palmetto win next week puts Southeast out of the playoffs for the second straight year.
So as big as Friday's game is for the Tigers, next week's game will mean even more.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Prep volleyball: District championship pairings

photo by Paul Videla
Rachel Drummey (left), Jacqui Armer (center) and Kayla Armer (right) lead Manatee into Thursday's Class 7A-District 11 finals against Venice.
Manatee County hosts three district volleyball finals Thursday night.
Here is a look at the pairings. All games begin at 7 p.m.
All the teams have qualified for next week's regional tournament.

Venice at Manatee
Seminole Osceola at Lakewood Ranch
Out-of-Door Academy vs. Saint Stephen's

Monday, October 22, 2012

Prep cross country: Manatee County meet slated for Saturday

photo by Grant Jefferies
Bayshore's Canaan Meester-Kitterman will look to defend his county title Saturday at G.T. Bray
The Manatee County cross country meet returns to G.T. Bray Park this Saturday. Last year's race was run at the Lakewood Ranch Sports Complex.
The girls varsity meet begins at 8 a.m. and the boys meet is scheduled for 8:35.
Prizes will be awarded at 11:30 following the JV boys and girls races.
Teams are allowed to race 10 runners, though there will be a 30-minute cut off in the varsity races.
Bayshore's Canaan Meester-Kitterman (above) was the boys champ last year with a time of 17 minutes, two seconds, and Lakewood Ranch won the team title with 41 points, defeating runner-up Manatee by three points.
Lakewood Ranch dominated the girls race as Olivia Ortiz (17:49) won the individual title by nearly two minutes over teammate Devin McDermott. The first seven finishers were Mustangs, who cruised to the team championship with 15 points.
Ortiz broke her femur during the Class 3A state track and field meet last spring and is not competing this fall, which means a new girls champion will be crowned.

Prep football: MaxPreps, ESPN keep Manatee at No.1

photo by Tom Hubbard
Kelvin McKnight and the Hurricanes are 7-0 following Friday's win at Venice

Manatee hasn't given ESPN and MaxPreps a reason to name a new national No.1.
The Hurricanes kept hold of the top spot on the ESPN Power 25 Rankings for the second straight week following their 56-27 win over Venice. Manatee is third team to hold ESPN's No.1 ranking, joining Grayson High out of Georgia and Santa Margarita out of California.
MaxPreps named Manatee the nation's top team in the preseason and hasn't veered from that opinion, as the Hurricanes are still No.1 in MaxPreps' Xcellent rankings.
Manatee is also ranked No.1 by USA Today, which updates its rankings on Tuesday, and No.2 in the RivalsHigh100, which updates each Wednesday.
The Canes host Palmetto in a battle of 7-0 teams Friday.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Prep football: Friday's Manatee-Palmetto game live on Bright House

photo by Tim Wolfrum

photo by John Lembo
 Bright House Sports Network is coming to Bradenton to broadcast Friday's game between Manatee and Palmetto.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
The Class 7A Hurricanes and 5A Tigers are 7-0 and ranked first in the state in their respective classifications. Manatee begins this week ranked No.1 in the nation by MaxPreps and USA Today and second by Rivals and ESPN.
Bright House ranks Manatee first and Palmetto sixth in its top 20 poll.
Manatee won last year's game 29-26 and hasn't lost to a Manatee County opponent since 2006 (Southeast), and hasn't dropped a regular-season game to an in-state team since 2009 (Venice).
Palmetto has won 20 of its last 21 regular season games and is 25-7 under head coach Dave Marino, who was hired in 2010.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Prep football: Manatee's Lauro commits to Akron

photo by Tiffany Tompkins-Condie
Manatee's wide receiver/running back has committed to Akron University, according to Hurricanes assistant Chris Conboy.
The senior is out for the season after undergoing knee surgery to repair a ligament tear last week.
He had 15 receptions prior to suffering the injury Sept. 28 in a game at Southeast. Lauro led the team in recepitions last year (51) and rushed for 631 yards and scored a total of 14 touchdowns. He also scored twice during the Class 7A state final against Jacksonville First Coast.
Manatee heads to Venice on Friday is a game that will probably decide the Class 7A-District 10 title.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Prep volleyball: District pairings

photo by Paul Videla
Saint Stephen's Tori Biach, wearing  green, and the Falcons earned the top seed for next week's Class 3A-District 10 tournament.

 Two area teams earned No.1 seeds for next week's district volleyball tournaments, which get underway Monday.
The pairings for each district are listed below. The top two finishers advance to the regional tournament, which get underway  Tuesday, Oct. 30 (Class 8A, 6A, 4A and 2A) and Wednesday, Oct. 31 (7A, 5A, 3A).
Seeds are in parentheses.

MONDAY - (5) Charlotte at (4) Sarasota, 7 p.m.; (6) Port Charlotte at (3) Braden River, 7 p.m.
TUESDAY - (1) Venice* at Charlotte/Sarasota, 7 p.m.; Port Charlotte/Braden River at (2) Manatee, 7 p.m.
THURSDAY - Championship, 7 p.m. at highest remaining seed*
* - Venice is not permitted to host a postseason match per the Florida High School Athletic Association.

MONDAY - (5) St. Petersburg Dixie Hollins at (4) Largo, 7 p.m.
TUESDAY -  (3) Palmetto at (2) Seminole Osceola, 7 p.m.; Largo/Dixie Hollins at (1) Lakewood Ranch, 7 p.m.
THURSDAY - Championship, 7 p.m.

MONDAY - (5) Gulfport Boca Ciega at (4) Bayshore, 7 p.m.; (6) St. Petersburg Gibbs at (3) Southeast, 7 p.m.
TUESDAY - Gulfport Boca Ciega/Bayshore at (1) Dunedin, 7 p.m.; Gibbs/Southeast at (2) St. Petersburg Lakewood, 7 p.m.
THURSDAY - Championship, 7 p.m.

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

Monday, October 15, 2012

Prep football: Week full of big games for Manatee County area

photo by John Lembo
Joe Kinnan and his Hurricanes have a big game Friday at Venice
Who: Manatee (6-0, 1-0) at Venice (5-1, 1-0)
When : 7:30 p.m. Friday
District: 7A-11
On the line: With all due respect to Braden River and Sarasota, this game will crown the district champion for the fourth straight season. There is more than hardware on the line, however - Manatee and Venice have met in the Region 3 semifinals the last two years, and Friday's winner gets homefield should the rematch happen again.

Who: Palmetto (6-0, 2-0) at Wauchula Hardee (2-4, 1-0)
When: 7 p.m. Friday
District: 5A-10
On the line: These are two of the district's three undefeated teams (Southeast is the other), and Friday's winner will have an inside track to a playoff spot and a district title. This marks the first of three huge games for the Tigers, who head to Manatee next week and close the regular season Nov. 2 against the Seminoles.

Who: Bayshore  (2-5, 0-2) at Southeast (5-2, 1-0)
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
District: 5A-10
On the line: The Bruins can really throw a monkey wrench into Southeast's quest for a district title should they score an upset at John Kiker Memorial Stadium. A win will be huge for the Seminoles considering the district's two other undefeated teams - Palmetto and Wauchula Hardee - are playing each other and Southeast can gain a game on one of them.

Who: St. Petersburg Admiral Farragut (6-1, 4-1) at Bradenton Christian (3-4, 3-2)
When: 7 p.m. Friday
District: Class 2A (Urban)-5
On the line: The Panthers and Bluejackets are two of the five teams in the district separated by a game, and this is a must-win if BCS wants a shot at making the playoffs for the first time in school history.

Who: Frostproof (3-3, 0-1) at Cardinal Mooney (4-3, 1-0)
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
District: Class 3A-6
On the line: Mooney bounced back from its tough loss last Monday at Lakeland Christian by pounding St. Petersburg Catholic, and the Cougars need to keep the momentum flowing against the Bulldogs. Mooney neeeds to beat Frostproof as well as Fort Meade in order to control its own fate - a split means the Cougars have to hope for a three-way tiebreaker. Those are never fun.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Prep football: Sandberg in the mix for MaxPreps' National Player of the Year

photo by Paul Videla
MaxPreps thinks a lot of Manatee's football team, ranking the Hurricanes No. 1 in its Xcellent Top 25 since before the season started.
MaxPreps thinks a lot of Manatee's quarterback, too.
Cord Sandberg is listed under the heading Moving Up Quickly in the site's recent National Football Player of the Year Watch, written by Kevin Askeland.
"(Sandberg) makes the list this week more for his leadership skills than his stats," Askeland wrote. "While not a fantasy football-type stat producer along the lines of a Drew Brees, Sandberg earns kudos from opposing coaches due to his poise and competitiveness."
Sandberg was named the Class 7A Player of the Year in 2011 and placed third in the balloting for Mr. Football.
He has thrown for 976 yards, 14 touchdowns and no interceptions this year for Manatee, which takes a 5-0 record into Friday's non-district game against Weston Cypress Bay.
The favorite to win the Player of the Year honor is Yulee's Derrick Henry, who has already rushed for 1,954 yards and 27 touchdowns this year, and he has totaled 9,818 rushing yards in his career.