Friday, August 31, 2012

Prep football: Marino guarding against complacency at Palmetto

photo by John Lembo
You may not see it on any t-shirts this season, but there is an unoffical slogan buzzing around Palmetto's football team:
"We're not 1-yard away."
It comes from the lips of head coach Dave Marino, and it refers to last season, when the Tigers were stopped at the goaline during the final play of the Class 5A state semifinal. Palmetto lost 35-27 to Miami Norland, which rolled to a state title a week later.
As glorious as last season was for the Tigers, who hadn't reached a final four since 1986, Marino spent the spring and summer telling his players they need to put it in past.
 "We've got to go back to the beginning," said Marino, whose Tigers open the regular season tonight at Riverview and are ranked fifth in the state in Class 5A.. "What we did last year is in the past."
Marino wasn't happy with his team's perfromance during last week's 24-23 loss to Venice in a Kickoff Classic.
What he saw was a complacent team living off last year’s accomplishments.

“It’s what I was concerned about all through the preseason, and I addressed it with the team,” Marino said. “We have to be ready…You’ve got to get them to be focused and bring intensity and passion every day, or you will get beat. You’ll get beat by anybody if you don’t have that attitude.”
Since becoming the Tigers’ head coach prior to the 2010 season, Marino has talked openly about creating a program that competes for championships every year. He wants his Tigers mentioned in the same breath as tradition-rich Manatee and Southeast.
Consequently, Marino said the expectations are as high as they were last fall, even though the Tigers lost eight defensive starters from graduation. And he wants his guys to go out and prove Palmetto is the furthest thing from a one-year wonder, because Marino knows that’s what championship programs do.
“All that preseason hype, the No. 5 ranking in the state – that stuff doesn’t matter. We lost last week,” Marino said. “And we will continue to lose if we don’t come out with the right focus, attitude and intensity. That’s been the message. Yeah, we want to continue to be champions, but how? How do you stay at the top? How do you maintain a championship program? And it’s really no different than what got you there.”

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Prep football: Ticket information for Manatee-Miramar game

photo by John Lembo
 Tickets for Manatee's game on Sunday against Miramar are available at Manatee's main office from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. during the week.
Prices are $8 for reserve and $6 for general admission, and all proceeds benefit the Wounded Warrior Project.
Because the game is for charity, coach Joe Kinnan said the passes will not be honored.
Game time is scheduled for 2 p.m. and it will be broadcast live on ESPN2.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Prep football: It's been an eventful camp for Manatee's running backs

photo by Paul Videla
No one at Manatee thought it would be easy replacing running back Leon Allen.
A couple of bumps in the road this summer have made it even more difficult.
Junior Trevon Walters, expected to slide into the starting role to replace the since-graduated Allen, suffered a hip injury last week.
And senior Taren Cotton, who scored a touchdown in last year's Class 7A state final, fractured his jaw in two places and is expected to miss four to six weeks, said coach Joe Kinnan.
Yet not all the news is grim. Kinnan said Walters returned to full contact this week and is expected to play Friday when the Hurricanes host Seminole Osceola in a Kickoff Classic.
Cotton's injury has allowed 5-foot-7, 169-pound freshman Johnnie Lang to get some reps.
"He's been impressive thus far," Kinnan said of Lang.
Manatee will get extra time to heal following Friday's game - the Hurricanes open the season next Sunday, Sept. 2 againt Miramar in a game that will be broadcast live on ESPN2.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Prep football: Manatee's game with Miramar will be broadcast on ESPN 2

photo by Tiffany Tompkins-Condie
ESPN is returning to Hawkins Stadium.
Manatee's game with Miramar, scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 2, will be broadcast live on ESPN 2 as part of the 10th Annual GEICO ESPN High School Football Showcase.
The network made the announcement Monday.
The game's proceeds will benefit the Wounded Warrior Project.
Manatee's 2010 Kickoff Classic against Tampa Plant was broadcast live on ESPN.
For more on this story, check out Tuesday's edition of The Bradenton Herald.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Prep football: Palmetto picks a quarterback

photo by Paul Videla
The Palmetto Tigers have chosen a successor to Trent Miller, above, now a walk-on at USF.
Spencer Atkins will be Palmetto's quarterback this season.
"It's no secret now - he won the job," Palmetto coach Dave Marino said Wednesday.
Atkins, a  rising senior, hails from Illinois and trained under Chris Weinke at IMG's football academy.
Trent Miller, who quarterbacked the Tigers to the Class 5A state final four last season, also worked with Weinke at IMG before coming to Palmetto. Miller is now a walk-on at USF.
The race for Miller's successor was between Atkins and Chris Tuten, a rising sophomore who started last year for Palmetto's JV team.
"Chris is good, it's just Spencer has really taken that step forward," Marino said. "I think his age and maturity has helped him take that step forward to be the guy."
Despite the difference in age and experience between the candidates, Marino said the competition was wide open from the start. He also said Tuten will get plenty of action when Palmetto heads to Venice on Aug. 24 for its Kickoff Classic.
"We gave them all equal reps, and we're still giving them equal reps," Marino said. "We're going to try and get Chris some valuable time against Venice - one last evaluation, just to make sure we're not missing anything and Spencer is the guy."
Though he'll be the backup this season, Tuten will probably assume the reins after Atkins graduates in May. So this year will be important in terms of his development, though Marino said Tuten is already impressive for a player who has yet to take a varsity snap in a regular-season game.
"Another year to mature, another year in our system, it's basically going allow him to groom slowly," Marino said. "If he was thrown into the fire as a sophomore being our starter, we feel confident that he would have been OK. But there's no substitute for time and experience."

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Prep football: Rivals ranks Manatee third in the nation

photo by John Lembo
 Last but not least, the folks of Rivals have weighed in on the 2012 Manatee Hurricanes.
The website unveiled Nos. 5-2 of its RivalsHigh 100 today, and listed Manatee third in the nation and tops in the state of Florida.
"The team will be well coached and knows how to win," writes Dallas Jackson, Rivals' high school football analyst. "It has earned the preseason hype and will have to fight hard to maintain the top spot in one of the best states in the country."
Rivals ranked Dallas' Skyline No.2 and will unveil its No. 1 team Wednesday.
Manatee was ranked No. 1 in the nation by MaxPreps and third by USA Today.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Prep baseball: Lakewood Ranch coach Mike Mullen steps down

photo by Paul Videla
Mike Mullen has stepped down as Lakewood Ranch's baseball coach after he was named the school's new assistant principal.
"As far as growing as an educator and a professional, this is what I wanted to do," he said Monday. "Baseball is my passion, and I'm going to find my fix somehow."
Mullen became the Mustangs' coach in 2007 and led the team to three playoff appearances and a spot in the Class 6A state final four last season.
It was the program's first state semis appearance since the 2003 won the state title.
For more on this story, check out Tuesday's edition of The Bradenton Herald.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Prep football: Manatee is the people's champion

photo by Paul Videla
Cord Sandberg and the Manatee Hurricanes topped the Second Annual RivalsHigh fans preseason top 10
Less than nine months after capturing their first state title in 20 years, the Manatee Hurricanes have captured the opinion of the country's prep football fans.
Manatee was ranked No. 1 in the Second Annual RivalsHigh fans preseason top 10, which was released Sunday, and it wasn't even close.
The Canes  received 81 first-place to finish with 2,018 points, easily beating out No. 2 Skyline High out of Dallas, Tex.(1,608 points).
Louisville's Trinity, named the nation's top team last year by Rivals, garnered the second-most first-place votes with 51 and finished fourth overall.
Nearly 250 usable ballots were cast, according to the website, and Manatee finished either first, second or third in 191 of them.
This isn't the first time Manatee has received recent national acclaim - MaxPreps ranked the Hurricanes No.1 in its preseason poll in June and USA Today slotted them at No. 3 last week.
Rivals will unveil its preseason top 10 beginning this week.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Prep football: Manatee ranked third by USA Today

photo by Tiffany Tompkins-Condie
When it comes to ranking Manatee's football team, the folks at MaxPreps and USA Today don't see eye to eye.
The Hurricanes are listed third in USA Today's Preseason Super 25, which was unveiled today.
Who's No. 1, according to USA Today?
Miami Central, which hosts during Week 3.
MaxPreps ranked Manatee No.1 in its poll earlier this year.
Check out Friday's edition of The Bradenton Herald for more on this story, including Manatee's 2012 schedule.