Wednesday, October 31, 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.

CLASS 7A-REGION 3
Stuart Martin County 3, Manatee 1
CLASS 3A-REGION 3
Clearwater Calvary Christian 3, Saint Stephen's 2
Clearwater Central Catholic 3, Out-of-Door Academy 0

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.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

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.

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.

CLASS 4A-DISTRICT 7
Where: Lithia Newsome
When: 4:30 p.m. Thursday
Locals: Manatee
Rest of field: Lithia Newsome, Plant City Durant, Nort Port, Riverview (Sarasota), Riverview.

CLASS 3A-DISTRICT 11
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.

CLASS 3A-DISTRICT 9
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.

CLASS 2A-DISTRICT 10
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.

CLASS 1A-DISTRICT 10
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.

2006
9/15 - Manatee 21, Lakewood Ranch 7
2007
8/31 - Manatee 35, Bayshore 6
9/14 - Manatee 28, Southeast 16
11/2 - Manatee 24, Lakewood Ranch 7
2008
9/5 -   Manatee 35, Bayshore 0
9/19 - Manatee 16, Southeast 14
11/7 - Manatee 41, Lakewood Ranch 13
2009
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
2010
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
2011
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
2012
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.

TUESDAY
CLASS 6A-REGION 3
Dover Strawberry Crest at Lakewood Ranch
WEDNESDAY
CLASS 7A-REGION 3
Manatee at Stuart Martin County/Okeechobee winner
CLASS 3A-REGION 3
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 fhsaasports.com/Manatee.
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.

Tuesday, October 23, 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.

CLASS 7A-DISTRICT 11
Venice at Manatee
CLASS 6A-DISTRICT 12
Seminole Osceola at Lakewood Ranch
CLASS 3A-DISTRICT 10 AT BRADENTON CHRISTIAN
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.

CLASS 7A-DISTRICT 11
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.

CLASS 6A-DISTRICT 12
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.

CLASS 5A-DISTRICT 12
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.

CLASS 3A-DISTRICT 10 at BRADENTON CHRISTIAN
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.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Prep golf: Postseason play gets underway next week

photo by Grant Jefferies
Ramsey Touchberry and Lakewood Ranch's boys golf team will compete in the Class 2A-District 13 meet 8 a.m. Monday at The Founders Club
The fall postseason is officially upon us, as district golf begins Monday at various sites around the state.
Listed below are the meets involving area team.

BOYS
Class 2A-District 13
When: 8 a.m. Monday
Where: The Founders Club, Sarasota
Locals: Bayshore, Braden River, Lakewood Ranch, Manatee, Palmetto.
Rest of field: North Port, Riverview, Sarasota, Venice.
Up next: Region 5 meet 11:30 a.m. Monday, Oct. 22 at Heritage Oaks Golf and Country Club, Sarasota.

Class 1A-District 16
When: 9 a.m. Monday
Where: Bradenton Country Club
Locals: Bradenton Christian, Cardinal Mooney, Out-of-Door Academy, Saint Stephen's, Southeast.
Rest of field: Arcadia DeSoto, Lake Placid, Sarasota Christian, Wauchula Hardee.
Up next: Region 6 meet 11:15 Monday, Oct. 22 at Coral Oaks Country Club, Cape Coral.

GIRLS
Class 2A-District 13
When: 11:30 a.m. Monday
Where: Bradenton Country Club
Locals: Bayshore, Braden River, Lakewood Ranch, Manatee, Palmetto.

Rest of field: North Port, Riverview, Sarasota, Venice.
Up next: Region 5 meet 9:30 a.m. at Vineyards Country Club, Naples.

Class 1A-District 16
When: 11 a.m. Monday
Where: The Preserve Golf Club, Bradenton
Locals: Bradenton Christian, Cardinal Mooney, Out-of-Door Academy, Saint Stephen's, Southeast.

Rest of field: Arcadia DeSoto, Lake Placid, Wauchula Hardee.
Up next: Region 6 meet 11 a.m. Monday, Oct. 22 at Lemon Bay Golf Club, Englewood.





Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Prep football: Manatee's Lauro out for the season


photo by Tiffany Tompkins-Condie
 Manatee's Anthony Lauro is out for the year.
Coach Joe Kinnan said Lauro, a senior wide receiver/running back, underwent successful surgery Monday to repair a torn ligament in his left knee. Lauro suffered the knee Sept. 28 at Southeast.
"It's unfortunate that it happened," Kinnan said. "He's certainly had his fair share of injuries."
Lauro missed most of his sophomore season after tearing a meniscus and breaking the tibia in his right leg, and he underwent meniscus surgery against last year following December's Class 7A state final. Lauro had two touchdowns in the win over Jacksonville First Coast and led Manatee in receptions (51) while scoring 14 touchdowns last year and rushing for 631 yards.
"You're taking a lot of offense out of the mix," Kinnan said. "However, we have a lot of very talented people at the skill positions."
Manatee is 5-0 and ranked No.1 nationally by MaxPreps and USA Today thanks in part to an offense paced by quarterback Cord Sandberg and fueled by running back Trevon Walters (395 rushing yards, 19 receptions) and receivers Brodrick Yancy (12 catches) and Marquel Hines (12 catches, five touchdowns).
Kelvin McKnight started in Lauro's place Friday and had a rushing and receiving touchdown at Braden River.
"He's Ace Sanders' first cousin," Kinnan said of McKnight, "and he looks a lot like Ace."
Lauro earned scholarship offers from Akron and Western Kentucky last March, but the injury may impact his playing future.
"A lot of people were waiting to see how we would perform in his senior year," Kinnan said. "If he gets healthy and put this behind him, he can be a very good contributing player."
That said, replacing Lauro won't be easy.
"What he did was make the people around him better because of his work ethic," Kinnan said. "It's unfortunate."

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Prep volleyball: Manatee claims county crown


photo by Paul Videla
 Manatee picked the right time to avenge its only loss of the season.
The Hurricanes beat Lakewood Ranch in the finals of today's county volleyball tournament at Southeast. Manatee fell to the Mustangs during the first match of the season.
It was the fifth county championship for the Hurricanes, who are 19-1 heading into Tuesday's non-district match against Bayshore.
The rest of the standings and All-Tournament team are listed below.

1. Manatee
2. Lakewood Ranch
3. Saint Stephen's
4. Braden River
5. Palmetto
6. Southeast
7. Bayshore
8. Bradenton Christian

ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
BAYSHORE - Emily Camp
BRADENTON CHRISTIAN - Abbie James
BRADEN RIVER - Demi-Shay Watchorn
LAKEWOOD RANCH - Jordan Wopinski, Ashlyn Falahee
MANATEE - Becca Butler, Rachel Drummey
PALMETTO - Danielle Deterding
SAINT STEPHEN'S - Tori Biach
SOUTHEAST - Emma Bartges

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER - Kayla Armer, Manatee

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Prep football: The 3rd Annual Lemmy Awards

photo by Tiffany Tompkins-Condie
Manatee quarterback Cord Sandberg is again a Lemmy Award winner.
The 2012 prep football seasons has reached the midway point, so it's time for...
The 3rd Annual Lemmy Awards.
This is all for fun and has no bearing on the All-Area Team, which will be unveiled after the season with input from Herald staffers and area coaches.
Now the winners...

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER - Cory Crawford, Palmetto: Crawford's absence didn't hurt the Tigers last Friday when they rolled past Lakewood Ranch. That said, his ability to play anywhere on the field has paid dividends for Palmetto, which is 5-0 and ranked No.1 in Class 5A. A wide reciever by trade, Crawford made a seamless transition to running back and still leads the area in rushing. And coaches feel so strongly about Crawford's ability to run the foobtall they have taken Josh Hicks, who rushed for 277 yards against the Mustangs, and put him at defensive back to aid a defense that lost eight starters from last year. That sound you hear is Crawford's stock rising.
HONORABLE MENTION - Cord Sandberg, Manatee; Courtney Allen, Southeast.

MOST OUTSTANDING PLAYER - Cord Sandberg, Manatee: He has completed nearly 70 percent of his passes (65 for 95), hasn't thrown in an interception while throwing 11 touchdowns, passed for 915 yards and has coolly led Manatee to a 4-0 start and the top national ranking in the eyes of MaxPreps and USA Today. You can't argue with Sandberg's numbers, so we won't.
HONORABLE MENTION - Courtney Allen, Southeast; Cory Crawford, Palmetto; Sinclair Laskett, Bradenton Christian.

COACH OF THE YEAR - Joe Kinnan, Manatee: Branding Kinnan the coach of the year is like awarding the driver with the most explosive engine. Yes, Kinnan has more weapons than anyone in the area - but his Hurricanes entered the year with the most expectations and have lived up to all of them. Manatee looked just as focused against Miramar and nationally-ranked Miami Central as they did against Riverview and thus far haven't overlooked anyone. The Hurricanes are a driven bunch and that trickles down from their coach.
HONORABLE MENTION - Dave Marino, Palmetto; Allan Gerber, Bradenton Christian; Shawn Trent, Lakewood Ranch.

GAMES TO WATCH IN THE SECOND HALF:
Manatee at Venice, Oct. 19 - Will probably decide the 7A-District 10 title.
Southeast at Palmetto, Nov. 2 - May earn one team a district title and cost another a playoff berth.
Palmetto at Manatee, Oct. 26 - The battle for area bragging rights again comes down to the Tigers and Hurricanes.
Largo at Lakewood Ranch, Oct. 26 - This decided the Class 6A-District 7 championship last year and probably will do so again.
Bradenton Christian at St. Petersburg Admiral Farragut, Oct. 19 - A win will go a long way toward the Panthers making their first trip to the playoffs.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Prep football: Manatee, Palmetto hold tight to top spots

photo by John Lembo
Manatee is still No.1. So is Palmetto.
The Hurricanes and Tigers are still ranked first in their respective classifications in The Associated Press state football poll. Manatee is No.1 in Class 7A and Palmetto is No.1 in Class 5A.
The Canes (4-0), who blitzed past rival Southeast 52-13 on Friday, are still ranked No.1 in the nation by MaxPreps and USA Today, and are still ranked second by ESPN behind California's Santa Margarita Catholic.
The Canes are ranked third by Rivals, which updates its top 100 each Wednesday. Manatee opens Class 7A-District 10 play Friday at Braden River.
The Tigers defeated Lakewood Ranch 43-7 to run their record to 5-0. Palmetto is 1-0 in Class 5A-District 10 and resumes district play Friday at Bayshore.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Prep football: Demarcus Christmas to commit to Florida State


photo by Grant Jefferies
 Another one of Manatee's touted defensive linemen has made a verbal committment.
This time it is junior Demarcus Christmas, who will commit to Florida State, according to Manatee assistant coach Chris Conboy.
He began starting midway through last season when DeAngelo Dawes couldn't play because of age restrictions. Christmans finished the year with two sacks and 42 tackles.
Though he is the youngest member of the line, which is considered one of the best in the nation, Christmas has already received a dozen offers from the likes of Miami, Mississippi State and South Carolina.
Christmas had a sack and 12 tackles entering Friday's game against Southeast.
Manatee defensive end Blake Keller committed to UCF during the summer.