Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Prep wrestling: Manatee County a tournament hotbed

Wrestling is coming to Manatee County this month when a number of county teams - including Jesse Fulk's Manatee Hurricanes - host tournaments in preparation for the postseason, which gets underway the first weekend in February.
Here are the events:

Southeast Duals
When: Friday, Jan 3 and Saturday, Jan. 4.
Locals: Southeast, Palmetto, Bayshore
Others: Brandon, Clearwater Countryside,  Sarasota Military Academy, Tampa Jesuit, Venice, Booker, Lakeland George Jenkins, Booker, Sarasota, Englewood Lemon Bay, Dunedin, Tampa Berkeley Prep, Port Charlotte.

Kiwanis Mustang Duals at Lakewood Ranch
When: Saturday, Jan. 4.
Locals: Braden River, Lakewood Ranch

Coach Kelly Memorial Hurricane Team Challenge at Manatee
When: Friday, January 10 and Saturday, Jan. 11.
Locals: Manatee
Others: Dunedin, Holiday Anclote, Largo, Lakeland, Jupiter, Port Charlotte, Tampa Alonso, Gateway, Nova, Englewood Lemon Bay, Harmony. 

Tiger Duals at Palmetto
When: Saturday, Jan. 11
Locals: Bayshore, Palmetto, Southeast, Lakewood Ranch
Others: Brandon, Ruskin Lennard, Riverview, Cape Coral Ida Baker, Charlotte, Cape Coral Mariner, Sebring, Fort Myers, North Port, Booker.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Prep basketball: Smoothie King Classic brackets

Bradenton Christian is hosting the Smoothie King Classic, a girls and boys basketball tournament running Dec. 27-28 and 30 at BCS.
Here are the first round pairings:

DEC. 27
Manatee vs. Sarasota Christian, 11 a.m.
Cape Coral vs. Bayshore, 2 p.m.
Lakeland Victory Christian vs. West Palm Beach Cardinal Newman, 5 p.m.
Bradenton Christian vs. Citrus Park Christian, 8 p.m.
Bayshore vs. Cardinal Mooney, 9:30 a.m.
Sarasota Christian vs. Englewood Lemon Bay, 12:30 p.m.
St. Petersburg Shorecrest vs. Manatee, 3:30 p.m.
Bradenton Christian vs. Lecanto Seven Rivers Christian, 6:30 p.m.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Prep girls basketball: Willie Clemons brackets

Southeast is hosting the 10th Annual Willie Clemons Girls Basketball Classic from Dec. 26-28.
The eight-team bracket features the tournament's first out-of-state entry - Valdosta High in Georgia. Valdosta is coached by Bradenton native and former Seminole Edward "Amp" Wilcox.
Here are the brackets:

Palmetto vs. Riverview, 2 p.m.
St. Petersburg Gibbs vs. Dover Strawberry Crest, 3:30 p.m.
Seminole vs. Dade City, 5 p.m.
Southeast vs. Valdosta, Ga., 6:30 p.m.
 5 p.m., 6:30 p.m.
2 p.m., 3:30 p.m.

6:30 p.m.
5 p.m.
2 p.m. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Prep sports: FHSAA proposes changing the "follow-the-coach" rule

A proposed bylaw may change the Florida High School Athletic Association's "follow-the-coach" rule.
The "previous contact" bylaw, scheduled to go before the association's representative assembly in January, would allow student-athletes who transfer schools to compete in sports that do not involve the coach in question. Further, the bylaw also allows student-athletes to compete in the affected sport at levels other than varsity, such as JV and freshmen levels.
The current "follow-the-coach" rule prohibits student-athletes from changing schools to play for a coach they worked with on a travel or club team.
Features of the proposed bylaw include:
  • Allowing the student-athlete to play varsity levels at any sport but the one involving the travel or club coach. So if a student transferred  to a school where his club coach is also the school's baseball coach, he would have to play sub-varsity baseball for one year, but could play on the varsity for any other sport.
  • If a student-athlete completes the final grade offered at his previous school (such as a school that offers grades K-7), he can play without interruption at his new school.
  • Student-athletes can fully participate if the coach in question has been associated with the school's sport in question for less than a year.  
Another proposed bylaw calls for more mediation to the association's appeal process for student-athletes and schools challenging rulings. The proposal calls for a mediation process prior to the board of appeals, with the agreements being binding. The FHSAA and the school would split the cost of the process, and the hearings would take place monthly at the association's headquarters in Gainesville.
These proposed changes come in the wake of the FHSAA's surveying of athletic directors, administrators and coaches. According to the FHSAA, 72 percent of those surveyed said they wanted to see changes in the transfer and club sports participation rules; 53 percent said the follow-the-coach rule should be changed in some way; and 73 percent said parents and students should not be able to choose their schools based on athletic participation.
“This set of proposals will go a long way to make sure student-athletes get to keep playing the sports they love, while also making sure blatant recruiting is discouraged and punished,” Roger Dearing, the association's executive director, said in a statement. “This approach will be fair to everyone – the schools, the coaches and, most importantly, the student-athletes themselves.”
If approved by the assembly, the changes go into affect for the 2014-15 school year.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Prep football: MaxPreps considers Florida's Class 8A the second-most toughest bracket in the country

Manatee's road to a sixth state championships is one of the roughest in the nation.
This according to Stephen Spiewak, national football editor for MaxPreps, who listed Class 8A second on his list of the top 10 toughest football brackets in the country.
"In many years, some of the medium-sized brackets in the state of Florida have the deepest fields," Spiewak wrote. "This season, Class 8A presents the most intrigue."
Manatee (16th) and Miramar (15th) are ranked in MaxPreps' Xcellent 25, and Apopka set the state record for points in the season before hanging 77 on Orlando University last week. The Blue Darters, who play Winter Park in a Region 1 semifinal, won the Class 8A crown last year and have recorded 601 points this season.
No one thinks the 11-0 Hurricanes will have an easy time Friday against 9-1 Fort Pierce Central in a Region 2 semifinal, nor will the winner get an easy draw next week, when its either Orlando Dr. Phillips or Tampa Plant in the regional final.
Then there is undefeated Deerfield Beach, which rolled past Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas during the regular season. Deerfield Beach meets Miramar on Friday in a Region 3 semifinal, with the winner getting Palm Beach Gardens or Palm Beach Central next week for the regional championship.
Florida was one of two states (California being the other) to land two brackets on the list: Spiewak ranked Class 6A at No. 6. That class features national powers such as Miami Central, the 6A defending state champion, and Seffner Armwood.
The No.1 ranking went to Texas' Class 5A-Division I bracket of the University Interscholastic  League, which includes Allen, currently at the top of MaxPreps' national composite rankings.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Prep football: Former Palmetto QB Trent Miller earns conference honors at Mars Hill

photo by Grant Jefferies
When Trent Miller talks about his first season at Mars Hill, a Division II school in North Carolina, he harkens back to his days as a Palmetto Tiger.
"It was pretty similar to Palmetto, where all the pieces were in place," he said Wednesday night. "They just needed that quarterback piece."
What the Lions got was Miller, who beat out two other candidates for the starting job and was named the South Atlantic Conference's Offensive Freshman of the Year on Wednesday.
"I'd say it's worked out for the best," said Miller, who transferred to Mars Hill after being a preferred walk-on at USF. "It was kind of scary leaving USF - it was in the summer and it was late, and it was nerve-wracking trying to find a team that needed a quarterback."
Miller finished third in the conference in passing yards (2,757) and touchdown passes (23) while completing 53.8 percent of his passes. He set a single-game program record Nov. 16 by throwing for 439 yards against Tusculum and helped wide receiver Dimitri Holmes set single-season school records in receiving yards (1,591) and touchdown catches (15).
"When I walked in, we had three quarterbacks and we were all fighting for the job. I wasn't expecting anything," Miller said. "I just focused on what I could control."
The scramble for the starting quarterback job was a little more crowded at USF, especially when Steven Bench transferred from Penn State and Fort Lauderdale University's Mike White signed on. White is now the Bulls' starter.
"They never came out and said, 'This is where you are on the depth chart,'" Miller said. "But with seven quarterbacks, I kind of saw the writing on the wall."
 Miller helped lead Palmetto to the Class 5A state final four in 2011, his only year as a Tiger. His team didn't taste similar success this past fall, when Mars Hill went 3-8 overall and 1-6 in the conference.
"We had the statistics this year, and if you look at the games, we were three plays away from winning those games," Miller said. "We have a lot of returning starters back next year, but now it's time to turn those stats into more production. Let's try and take it one drive more...We're losing some key seniors, but we know we have the depth behind them."

Monday, November 18, 2013

Prep football: FHSAA looking into Palmetto, East Lake scrum

The Florida High School Athletic Association plans on contacting administrators from Palmetto and Tarpon Springs East Lake in regards to a small scrum that broke out following Friday's Class 7A-Region 3 playoff game. An East Lake parent alleged on The Herald’s Facebook page and website that a Palmetto coach struck an Eagles player during the scuffle, and also sent the same letter to two different editors at The Herald.
The confrontation ended quickly and the teams did not shake hands. Palmetto huddled on its sideline after the game while the Eagles gathered under a goal post in one of end zones following the Eagles' 13-12 win.
"As of now, we haven't seen the game film. We're communicating with both schools," said Justin Harrison, the FHSAA's executive director of athletic services whose responsibilities include overseeing the conduct of coaches and players. "Whenever allegations come in of the sincerest nature, we always take a look to see what happened."
Harrison said he received an email from someone over at East Lake regarding the incident, but no official report had been filed. He also said he plans on speaking with the game's officiating crew.
Matt Braselton, a Palmetto assistant, responded to the claim by commenting on The Herald's page that "not ONE PHS coach threw any punches and allegations like that are not needed...it needs to be made clear coaches from both sides broke up a small scuffle that broke out after a late hit. No coaches threw any punches at any players, bottom line."
Palmetto athletic director Kenny Ansbro said he hadn't heard anything from the FHSAA as of 5:15 p.m. Monday.  Ansbro, who watched the game from Palmetto's sideline, said he didn't see any of the Tigers' coaches strike any East Lake players.
"I don't know where that came from," Ansbro said. "The referees, the coaches, they made everybody get back and that was it...It was quick."
Ansbro said the decision not to shake hands was mutual between the teams, adding the East Lake coaches were "very respectful."
Palmetto stayed 45 minutes after the game while the players ate their postgame meal, Ansbro added.
"The kids ate right there," Ansbro said. "Don't you think someone from their staff would have said something (if a coach hit a player)?"
Ruth Riel, East Lake's athletic director and assistant principal, said Monday afternoon she was still trying to gather information and declined further comment.
Bob Hudson, the Eagles' head football coach, did not respond to a phone call requesting comment Monday afternoon.
The Eagles (11-0) host Largo Pinellas Park on Friday in a Class 7A-Region 3 semifinal.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Prep soccer: Palmetto hosts defending national champion Monday

photo by Paul Videla
Palmetto's boys soccer team has long been the area's best.
Monday night at Harllee Stadium, the Tigers will go up against the nation's best: Montverde Academy, which visits Palmetto for a 7:30 p.m. match.
The Eagles have not lost a match since 2010 and were named prep national champions last year by MaxPreps, the National Soccer Coaches Association of America and Elite Soccer Report.
They also earned MaxPreps' top ranking in 2012 and was voted to the top of the ESPN RISE/Powerade Top 50 in 2011.
Montverde has also sent 24 players to Division I programs since 2010, according to the academy's Facebook page.
The Eagles are coached by Mike Potempa, who has played for three different national teams (U17, U19, U20), played at Clemson and was a draft pick of Major League Soccer's Los Angeles Galaxy.
What Montverde cannot do is play for a state championship - the Eagles are members of the Florida High School Athletic Association, but compete as an independent.
While the Tigers have no national crowns in the trophy case, they have been the area's most consistent program for over a decade, appearing in district championship games in 11of the past 12 years while winning five straight district titles.
Palmetto became Manatee County's first public school boys program to reach the state final four in 2009 and repeated the feat in '10. The Tigers reached the semifinals last year, too
The Tigers are 4-0 this season.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Prep football: Playoff primer

photo by Tiffany Tompkins-Condie
Palmetto's Dave Marino, above, is one of three area coaches leading his team into a playoff game Friday when the prep football posteason gets underway around the state.
The Class 7A Tigers will be joined by Manatee in Class 8A and Cardinal Mooney in Class 3A as each team begins its march toward a potential trip to Orlando's Florida Citrus Bowl, home of the state championship games.
Here is a look at each team's postseason picture.

MANATEE - Just because the top-ranked Hurricanes (10-0) don't have to worry anymore about Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas, which is now in 7A, that doesn't mean their road to Orlando gets any easier.
In fact, it may be the hardest its been since coach Joe Kinnan's return to the sideline in 2005.
It begins Friday against the 9-1 Vero Beach Indians, and while only two of their wins came against teams with a winning record, the Indians have a solid quarterback in Dalton Stokes, who has thrown for 2,220 yards.
The winner gets either 9-1 Fort Pierce Central or white-hot 7-2 Riverview, whose only two losses have come to Manatee and Class 6A playoff qualifier Venice. Perennial powers Orlando Dr. Phillips or Tampa Plant probably await whomever makes it to the Region 2 final. And what does the Region 2 champ get for a reward? A probable state semifinal against Apopka, which set a state scoring record this year with 529 points despite losing Nebraska-bound quarterback Zack Richardson to a concussion in Week 1.
Not easy. At all.

PALMETTO - That loss to Sarasota not only cost the Tigers (5-5) a chance of winning their second district title in three years, it also cost them some fuel - they open the Class 7A-Region 3 playoffs tonight in Tarpon Springs against East Lake.
And East Lake isn't exactly a delightful first-round draw: The Eagles are fresh off the first perfect regular-season in program history and are ranked second in the state in Class 7A.
The Tigers have had some success on the road under coach Dave Marino, who took over in 2010. Palmetto traveled to Immokalee in 2011 and returned to Manatee County with its first regional title in 25 years, and opened last year's playoffs with a win at Auburndale. So it has happened before.
And if Palmetto gets by the Eagles, the region's clear-cut favorite, things open up. Largo Pinellas Park or Sarasota await in a semifinal, and either Charlotte, Port Charlotte, Melbourne, or Melbourne Eau Gallie will come out of the other side for the Region 3 final.
Of those teams, only the Pirates (No.9) were ranked in the final Associated Press poll of the regular season.
The Region 3 champion, however, probably has to meet Aquinas or top-ranked Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer in a semifinal.

CARDINAL MOONEY - Classes 1A through 4A may have one fewer round than their bigger counterparts, but the Class 3A Cougars (7-2) still have a tough road to hoe to Orlando.
Mooney hosts a Region 3 semifinal tonight against St. Petersburg Catholic in a rematch of an Oct. 11th meeting the Cougars won 14-12 in St. Pete.
All three of Catholic's loss have come to playoff teams, including Clearwater Central Catholic, which the Cougars-Barons winner probably faces next week for the regional title.
CCC ended the regular season ranked fifth in Class 3A and took IMG Academy to overtime on Halloween before losing 19-13 in Bradenton.
The Marauders are the only ranked team in the region, which also includes traditional powers such as Hollywood Chaminade and Pahokee, as well as Fort Myers Bishop Verote, Miami Westminster Christian and West Palm Beach Cardinal Newman.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Prep football: Manatee playoff tickets on sale Thursday

Joe Kinnan and the Manatee Hurricanes are the only county team opening the playoffs at home when they host Vero Beach on Friday, Nov. 15 in a Class 8A-Region 2 quarterfinal.
Tickets are $9 for reserve seating and $8 general admission and can be purchased beginning Thursday at the ticket window from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. and on Friday from 7 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Tickets will also be available at Manatee High from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12 through Thursday, Nov. 14, and from 7 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 15.
School is closed Monday for Veteran's Day.
Seats will be held for season-ticket holders until Tuesday.
Manatee is 10-0 and has a bye this week.
The winner of next week's game meets either Fort Pierce Central or Riverview in a Region 2 semifinal Friday, Nov. 22.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Prep volleyball: Semifinal pairings

photo by Paul Videla

Ashlyn Falahee and Lakewood Ranch's volleyball team took a step toward another final four appearance Tuesday by sweeping Seminole during a Class 7A-Region 3 quarterfinal.
Bayshore and Out-of-Door Academy also won Tuesday in quarterfinal play, ensuring at least three area teams will play in next Tuesday's regional semifinals.
Manatee hosts Bloomingdale Valrico tonight in a Class 8A-Region 2 quarterfinal.
Listed below are the area semifinal pairings. All matches begin at 7 p.m.
The regional championship matches will be played 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9.

Sarasota at Lakewood Ranch
Bayshore at Tampa Robinson
Out-of-Door Academy at Clearwater Central Catholic

Monday, October 28, 2013

Prep football: Manatee moves up national polls after comeback over University

photo by Paul Videla
Manatee's thrilling win Friday over Fort Lauderdale University caught the attention of the folks at Rivals and MaxPreps, who bumped up the Hurricanes in this week's rankings.
The Hurricanes are ranked 12th in the latest RivalsHigh 100 after entering the week at No. 16.
Miami Booker T. Washington (No. 1) and Miami Central (No.4) are the only Florida teams ranked higher in the poll.
University fell one spot to No. 14.
MaxPreps ranks Manatee at No. 16, up a spot in the Xcellent Top 25.
Manatee trailed 21-0 in the first quarter before rallying for a 28-24 victory over Class 4A University, which entered with a 19-game winning streak.
The Hurricanes are 9-0 and have clinched the Class 8A-District 7 title. They host Palm Harbor University on Friday and are off the following week before hosting a Region 2 quarterfinal Nov. 15 against the District 8 runner-up.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Prep volleyball: District schedules

Kahlee York and the Lakewood Ranch Mustangs are the top seed in next week's Class 7A-District 10 volleyball tournament. PHOTO BY TIFFANY TOMPKINS-CONDIE
The volleyball playoffs begin next week with the district tournaments. The champion and runner-up out of each district advance to the regional playoffs, which begin Tuesday, Oct. 29 (Classes 3A, 5A and 7A) and Wednesday, Oct. 30 (Classes 2A, 4A, 6A and 8A).
Listed below are the district matchups involving area teams, with each team's seed in parentheses.

(3) Manatee at (2) Riverview, 7 p.m.
(4) St. Petersburg at (1) Palm Harbor University, 7 p.m.
7 p.m. at highest remaining seed

(5) Palmetto at (4) North Port, 7 p.m.
Palmetto/North Port at (1) Lakewood Ranch, 7 p.m.
(3) Braden River at (2) Sarasota, 7 p.m.
7 p.m. at highest remaining seed

(5) St. Petersburg Gibbs at (4) Gulfport Boca Ciega, 7 p.m.
Gibbs/Boca Ciega at (1) Bayshore, 7 p.m.
(3) St. Petersburg Lakewood at (2) Southeast, 7 p.m.
7 p.m.

(5) Imagine School of North Port vs. (4) Bradenton Christian, 7 p.m.
Imagine/Bradenton Christian vs. (1) Cardinal Mooney, 7 p.m.
(3) Saint Stephen's vs. (2) Out-of-Door Academy, 7 p.m.
7 p.m..

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Cross country: District schedules

Bayshore's Cannan Meester-Kitterman and the rest of the area's cross country runners kickoff the postseason next week with the district meets.
Listed below are meets involving area teams.
Regional meets begin Thursday, Oct. 31.

WHEN: 9 a.m. (girls); 9:30 (boys) Wednesday, Oct. 23
WHERE: John S. Taylor Park, Largo
LOCALS: Manatee
OTHERS: Clearwater Countryside, Largo Pinellas Park, North Port, Palm Harbor University, Sarasota Riverview, Seminole, St. Petersburg, Tarpon Springs East Lake.

WHEN: 9:30 a.m. (girls); 10:15 (boys) Thursday, Oct. 24
WHERE: Eagle Lake Park, Largo
LOCALS: Braden River, Lakewood Ranch, Palmetto 
OTHERS: Clearwater, Gulfport Boca Ciega, Largo, Sarasota, St. Petersburg Dixie Hollins, St. Petersburg Northeast,  Seminole Osceola, Tarpon Springs, Venice.

WHEN: 8:15 am (girls); 8:45 (boys) Thursday, Oct. 24
WHERE: John S. Taylor Park, Largo
LOCALS: Bayshore
OTHERS: Holiday Anclote, Tampa Berkeley Prep, Tampa Holy Names, Tampa Catholic, Tampa Jesuit (boys only).

WHEN: 9:30 a.m. (girls); 10:15 (boys) Monday, Oct. 21
WHERE: Southeast
LOCAL: Southeast
OTHERS: Arcadia DeSoto, Booker, Dunedin, St. Petersburg Gibbs, St. Petersburg Lakewood, Sarasota Military Academy, Wauchula Hardee.

WHEN: 9:30 a.m. (girls); 10:15 (boys) Friday, Oct. 25.
WHERE: John S. Taylor Park, Largo
LOCALS: Cardinal Mooney, Out-of-Door Academy, Saint Stephen's
OTHERSImagine School of North Port, St. Petersburg Admiral Farragut, St. Petersburg Canterbury, St. Petersburg Keswick Christian, St. Petersburg Northside Christian, St. Petersburg Shorecrest Prep, St. Petersburg Catholic.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Prep football: Pinkos ranks Manatee tops in 8A, third overall

Manatee is ranked first in Class 8A and third overall in Joe Pinkos' Power Rankings.
The Hurricanes' score is 219.3. Class 4A Miami Booker T. Washington is first with 223.5 points followed by Class 6A Miami Central with 219.5.
Fort Lauderdale University School, which visits Manatee on Oct. 25, is ninth overall and second in Class 4A with 198.5 points
Strength of schedule and margin a victory factors in the rankings, and the predicted margin of victory between teams can be determined by looking at difference between each team's points.
Manatee is 6-0 and visits Palmetto on Friday.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Prep sports: Bayshore partners with Community Sports Network

Bayshore's athletic events will be streamed live online thanks to the school's partnering with Community Sports Network and PlayOn! Sports.
The first broadcast will be Bayshore's home football game against Wauchula Hardee on Friday, Oct. 18.
The game can be viewed at the school's site, which currently features broadcasts of games from last season.
"We feel privileged to be able to build on the video archives started by Bayshore High School," said Mike Byrnes, CEO and producer of Community Sports Network, which is headquartered in Manatee County, "and will work to improve the viewing experience for students, parents and local businesses interested in advertising during live events."

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Prep football: Manatee's Joe Kinnan nominated in USA Today's top coach contest

photo by Tiffany Tompkins-Condie
Do you think Manatee coach Joe Kinnan is the best prep football coach in Florida? How about the whole country?
If so, you can vote for Kinnan in USA Today's Best High School Football coach contest.
Eight coaches from each state, as well as the District of Columbia, have been nominated. One winner from each state heads to the regional round, and that round's eight winners advance to the national round.
The winning coach's athletic department will receive $2,000, and second- through fifth-place finishers will receiver cash prizes, as well. All eight finalists will receive a banner for their school.
A five-time state champion, Kinnan has won 285 games.
The seven other Florida coaches nominated: Bill Castle (Lakeland); Corky Rogers (Jacksonville Bolles); Dan Burke (Melbourne Palm Bay); John Wilkinson (Cocoa); Pete Walker (Clewiston); Robert Weiner (Tampa Plant); Tim Harris (Miami Booker T. Washington).
Click here to vote.

Prep football: 2013 Lemmy Awards

photo by Paul Videla
The prep football season has hit the midway point, so you all know what that means:
Lemmy Awards!
Often imitated though never duplicated, the Lemmy Awards are chosen by, well, me.
Keep in mind, they have no bearing on our All-Area teams, which are picked with input from the staff as well as area coaches.
So here...we...go!

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Josh Hicks, RB, Palmetto: It's no coincidence that Palmetto hasn't lost since Hicks has been the beneficiary of more carries.
Actually, the Tigers are the beneficiaries. Hicks has run for 652 yards and 12 touchdowns and carried the Tigers to a tremendous comeback Friday against Bayshore, tallying five touchdowns and 244 yards to help erase a 31-0 deficit.
Not bad for a guy who has also split time at safety.
But aside from stats, Hicks, a senior, has been taking some heat off sophomore Jack Allison, in the midst of his first year of varsity football, and a young receiving corps. That's what captains are supposed to do and that's what Hicks has done for a Palmetto team that takes a 3-2 record into this week's bye.
No one means more to his team than Hicks.
Honorable mention: Chad Rex, QB, Lakewood Ranch; Trevon Walters, QB, Manatee; Kelvin McKnight, WR, Manatee; Titus Humphrey, Braden River; Courtney Allen, RB, Southeast.

COACH OF THE YEAR: Curt Bradley, Braden River: A year after an ugly 1-9 record, Bradley steered the Pirates to their first-ever 2-0 start before back-to-back losses to Lakewood Ranch and Booker.
The Pirates are playing with purpose this fall, which isn't easy considering they came within a week of going 0-10 last year. It may be a bit too early to start camping out for Braden River playoff tickets, especially since the Pirates already have a district loss and still have to face the likes of Palmetto and Sarasota. But after last year's struggles, Braden River just may be heading in the right direction. Right now, that's enough.
Honorable mention: Joe Kinnan, Manatee; Dave Marino, Palmetto; Josh Smithers, Cardinal Mooney.

TEAM OF THE YEAR: Manatee Hurricanes: They haven't lost to a county team since 2006 and haven't lost a regular-season game since 2011. They've outscored their last two opponents 128-7. Their defense has allowed three touchdowns over the last four games. And they're 5-0 and slowly ascending up a number of national polls. Manatee is on another level than any team in the area, and - dare we say it? - may be better than last year's 13-1 team that nearly won the program's first national title.
Honorable mention: Palmetto Tigers, Cardinal Mooney Cougars.

TIDBITS FROM THE FIRST FIVE: All four teams in Class 8A-District 7 have a winning record - Manatee (5-0), Palm Harbor University (3-1), St. Petersburg (3-1) and Riverview (2-1). District play opens Friday...Saint Stephen's scored 64 points against Citrus Park Christian in Week 2, the most the Falcons have scored since the school reintroduced football in 2006...Southeast may be 1-4 but the Seminoles are 1-0 in Class 5A-District 10, which is all that matters....Big Game Alert: Manatee hosts Fort Lauderdale University on Oct. 25. Both teams are currently ranked nationally.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Prep football: IMG's Scarbrough picked for UnderArmour game

photo by Grant Jefferies
IMG running back Bo Scarbrough has been selected for the 2014 UnderArmour All-America high school football game.
Scarbrough, who has committed to Alabama and leads the area in rushing (626 yards) will be presented with his UnderArmour jersey 1:30 p.m. at IMG's football stadium.
The game will be played 4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 4 at Tropicana Field.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Prep football:A great battle - Manatee's stout run defense vs. Southeast's Courtney Allen

photo by Paul Videla
Southeast is considered the underdog in Friday's game with archrival Manatee and hasn't defeated the Hurricanes since 2006.
But Friday's game at Hawkins Stadium will feature a great game within a game - Southeast running back Courtney Allen against Manatee's stout rushing defense.
Allen has already established the Seminoles' all-time career rushing record and has totaled 562 yards, second in the area to IMG's Alabama-bound Bo Scarbrough and tops among public-school backs.
But Manatee has made a habit this season of stopping the run, allowing an area-low 79 yards per week on the ground.
The Hurricanes limited Jonathan Haden of Friendship Collegiate Academy to just 35 yards in Week 3. Haden has committed to Arizona.
A week after he ran for 227 yards against Palmetto, Venice's Terry Polk had just 62 yards on 21 yards against Manatee during Week 2.
And Justin Austin, who scored three times against Class 7A state runner-up Tallahassee Lincoln, never got going last Friday against the Canes, moving backwards (minus 2 yards) on eight attempts.
Improved linebacking play has helped - Greg Reaves, a defensive back last season, is now a middle linebacker who has 24 tackles and three quarterback hurries. And the defense has forced seven turnovers.
Allen has been as good or maybe even better than advertised this year, a tough runner who leads the area in carries (68) and is leading an offense in the midst of making a transition at quarterback.
In order for the Seminoles to have a chance, Allen needs to push the ball forward. Manatee has the area's best offense, averaging over 441 yards per game, while Southeast is allowing 345 yards per game, ninth in the area.
Southeast's best defense? Keep Manatee's offense on the sideline. And the best way to do that is for Allen to do what no back has done this season - move the ball against the Hurricanes.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Prep volleyball: Info on county tournament

photo by Paul Videla

Manatee will look to defend its county championship this weekend at Lakewood Ranch, where pool play gets underway 4:30 p.m. Friday.
Action resumes 9 a.m. Saturday with the championship match slated for 1:30 p.m.
Listed below are the pool assignments.

POOL A: Lakewood Ranch, Saint Stephen's, Bayshore, Southeast
POOL B: Manatee, Braden River, Palmetto, Southeast

The top two teams from each pool meet in the championship semifinals 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. Saturday, and there will also be games determining the third-, fifth-, and seventh-place finishers.
The Hurricanes won the title last year, beating the Mustangs in the finals.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Prep football: Manatee cracks MaxPreps' top 25

photo by Tiffany Tompkins-Condie

Quarterback Josh Meyer and the Manatee Hurricanes have played their way into the latest MaxPreps Xcellent 25.
Manatee is 3-0 after Friday's 23-13 win over Washington, D.C.'s Friendship Collegiate Academy. The Hurricanes opened the season by beating Baltimore's Gilman (44-14) and traditional rival Venice (35-14).
The Hurricanes entered last week ranked first in the state in Class 8A, and ranked nationally by USA Today and Rivals. They head to Sarasota on Friday.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Prep football: Manatee Hurricanes visit Pentagon Memorial

Hours before kicking off the regular season tonight against Gilman, Md., members of Manatee's football team visited the Pentagon Memorial, a tribute to the 184 lives lost Sept. 11, 2001 when hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the building.
The Pentagon is located a quick walk from team's hotel in Arlington, Va.
Colonel Ed Fleming, the executive director of civil works and emergency operations at the US Army corps of engineers, accompanied the team to the memorial and also addressed the team at its hotel Sunday morning.
Col. Fleming went to West Point with Manatee alum Frank Brunner, who accompanied the Hurricanes on the trip.
Col. Fleming explained the positioning of the memorial benches dedicated to each of the day's victims: For the 125 who passed away in the Pentagon, their names and the building are in the same view; for the 55 on board Flight 77, their names  are in the same view as the plane's approach.
The wall surrounding memorial is symbolic in height, as well, starting at three inches for 3-year-old Dana Falkenberg, the youngest of the 184 victims, to 71 inches for 71-year-old John D. Yamnicky, the oldest of the victims.
Each memorial unit includes a bench and a lit pool of flowing water.
Flight 77 was one of four planes hijacked Sept. 11. Two flew into the twin towers of New York City's World Trade Center, while another crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pa. after passengers got wind of the attacks and thwarted the terrorists.
Col. Fleming told the players those planes were chosen for a purpose: they were making cross-country flights, which meant they were loaded with tons of fuel and were big enough to cause a lot of damage.
He also explained the reason the players and coaches had to go through a rigorous security check while boarding their plane in Tampa was because of the events of Sept. 11.
"You never had to take off your shoes or your belt or your belt buckles before Sept. 11, 2001," Col. Fleming said. "It was like getting on a bus.
Our lives were impacted forever on Sept. 11, 2001."
The Hurricanes stayed at the memorial for about 15 minutes before walking back to the team hotel, where they were scheduled to have a quick walk-through.
Manatee and Gilman kick off 7 p.m. tonight at Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium, located on the campus of the University of Maryland.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Prep football: Allison is Palmetto's new QB, Tuten has left the team

Another year, another starting quarterback at Palmetto.
This time it is sophomore Jack Allison, who will be under center 7:30 p.m. Friday when the Tigers host Venice in their regular-season opener.
Allison beat out incumbent Chris Tuten for the job.
"He throws a catchable ball and is just a little bit more accurate," Tigers head coach Dave Marino said Thursday. "He's got composure in the pocket; he can move out of the pocket and still keep his eyes downfield. There's just intangibles, those quarterback skills. Tute had the experience, but the longer it progressed, Jack was getting a better understanding and a feel for our offense. And Tute was just sort of stagnant - he really hadn't improved much, he was still making similar mistakes he was making last season."
Allison is the third starting quarterback in as many seasons for the Tigers, beginning with Trenton Miller in 2011. A transplant from Buffalo, Miller helped lead Palmetto to its first state semifinal appearance in 25 years.
Spencer Atkins was supposed to take over the role last season, but the senior got hurt in Palmetto's season-opener against Riverview and gave way to Tuten, who steered Palmetto to a 9-3 record and a Class 5A playoff berth.
When Atkins was healthy, he switched to linebacker.
Now it's Allison's turn. And unlike Miller and Atkins, who were seniors, Allison will be with the team for two more seasons, injecting a dose of stability into one of the most important positions on the field.
"If you're going to be consistent, you're going to have to do it the same day in and day out," Marino said. "We felt like making this move now was the time...It will give him a few weeks before our district play starts. We just felt like we had to make a decision, we couldn't let this linger on any further."
With Allison now the starter, Tuten decided to leave the team, Marino said.
"It's disappointing," Marino said. "I thought he would have battled, because we told him - 'Hey, if Jack's not ready for varsity football, then we'll go with you because we know what you can do for us and your experience.' And he chose to back away from that challenge as opposed to accepting it. It was disappointing he reacted to the challenge that way."
Speaking of challenges, Palmetto's schedule offers plenty. The Tigers' first two opponents, Venice and St. Petersburg Lakewood, were a combined 18-6 last season. And their Week 3 opponent, Clearwater Countryside, was 4-6 - but forfeited six games for using an ineligible player.
"We're right out of the gates with three tough ones in a row, and it's going to be a test of our character," Marino said, "and how bad we want it and how passionate we are, and are we going to endure through this and grow with each experience."

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Prep volleyball: District alignments

photo by Paul Videla

The 2013 volleyball season is underway, and with this being the first of new two-year cycle of district alignments, here are the districts involving area teams.
District tournaments begin the week of Oct. 21.

Palm Harbor University
Sarasota Riverview
St. Petersburg

Braden River
Lakewood Ranch
North Port

Gulfport Boca Ciega
St. Petersburg Gibbs
St. Petersburg Lakewood

Bradenton Christian
Cardinal Mooney
Out-of-Door Academy
Saint Stephen's
Imagine School of North Port

Monday, August 26, 2013

Prep football: Manatee's Walters commits to Missouri

photo by Tiffany Tompkins-Condie

Manatee running back Trevon Walters has committed to Missouri, according to Hurricanes assistant Chris Conboy.
The Alabama transplant rushed for 1,119 yards and 16 touchdowns last season and pulled in 29 catches for four scores.
Walters is the latest Manatee senior to commit to a Division I school,  joining offensive linemen Michael Galati (USF) and Jake Stickler (Georgia Tech), wide receiver Brodrick Yancy (Temple) and defensive lineman Demarcus Christiams (FSU).
For more on this story, check Tuesday's edition of The Bradenton Herald. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Prep football: Why it pays to be a state semifinalist

photo by Grant Jefferies

The partnership between quarterback Cord Sandberg and coach Joe Kinnan led to a state championship and three more trips to the state semifinals for the Manatee Hurricanes, who have made four straight final four appearances overall.
That also makes for a lot of money, which is key, considering Kinnan said no district funds went toward athletics last season.
Manatee has played 18 playoff games over the last four years, which according to Kinnan, brought in between an additional $150,000 and $160,000 to the school's athletic program after expenses.
"That is money that you don't really anticipate," Kinnan said. "That's money that's a bonus for your athletic program. Our surplus that was built up that the district borrowed was a direct result of our 18 playoff games.
"We're fortunate to have a good following."
Manatee hosted Fort Laurderdale St. Thomas Aquinas in a 2009 Class 5A state semifinal that resulted in a $50,000 gate. After covering expenses and giving Aquinas its share, Manatee made roughly $20,000 that night, Kinnan said.
Also the school's athletic director, Kinnan said the money football generates through gate receipts goes toward purchasing uniforms and equipment for Manatee's other athletic teams.
If a team wants to raise money for other things, such as travel shirts or pre-game meals, it can organize its own fundraiser.
As for the Hurricanes, they will play an out-of-state game for the third time in four years on Labor Day weekend when they head to the University of Maryland to face Gilman (Md.) on 7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 1.
The game is slated to broadcast live on FoxSports and is part of the 2013 UnderArmour Brothers In Arms Classic, a month-long series featuring 46 teams from around the state.
UnderArmous and SigningDayLLC are among the companies sponsoring the event, and Kinnan said no district money will be spent on the trip.. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Prep cross country: Bayshore's Meester-Kitterman takes ninth at Junior Olympics

photo by Grant Jefferies
Bayshore rising senior Canaan Meester-Kitterman had a solid showing during the USATF Junior Olympic Championships at North Carolina A & T State University this past weekend.
Meester-Kitterman qualified for the finals of the 1,500-meter run and took ninth with a time of 4:10. Though he finished one spot shy of a medal, he still managed to record a personal-best time in the event.
Meester-Kitterman is shooting for his third consecutive trip to the state cross country meet this fall.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Prep volleyball: Saint Stephen's looking for two coaches

Saint Stephen's is looking to hire a pair of volleyball coaches.
The school is hiring for a freshman and JV coach. Anyone interested can contact athletic director Carlos Boothby at cboothby@saintstephens.org.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Prep baseball: ODA' Dietrich an All-America pick

Tyler Dietrich, a catcher last spring at Out-of-Door Academy, earned second-team honors on MaxPreps' 2013 Baseball Small Schools All-American Team.
Dietrich hit .481 with 20 RBIs and 14 steals while throwing 73 percent of runners trying to steal as the Thunder won their second district title.
Dietrich will not be returning to ODA after his father, Billy, stepped down as the school's baseball coach.
Tyler Dietrich originally committed to play at Houston, but has withdrawn that commitment.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Prep baseball: Catching up with other area draft picks

photo by Grant Jefferies
A day after Cord Sandberg played his first professional baseball game in Bradenton as a member of the GCL Phillies, here is a list of how some of the area's other draft picks are faring.

J.R. Murphy - The IMG product and Bradenton native is playing well after being promoted to the New York Yankees' Triple-A team in Scranton-Wilkes Barre. Murphy, 21, is batting .308 in 12 games with the RailRiders, with two home runs and six RBIs. A catcher, Murphy has thrown out of five of 16 runners trying to steal (31 percent), and was the Yankees' second-round pick in 2009.

Correlle Prime - Prime is back with the Colorado Rockies' Rookie League team in Grand Junction, where he is batting .261. He hit his professional home run on Tuesday, the same day Sandberg hit his, and hasn't made an error in seven games at first base. The Rockies chose Prime, a Manatee alum, in the 12th round of last year's draft.

Zack Larson - The Lakewood Ranch grad is with the Minnesota Twins' Gulf Coast League team, and has shown some power, homering twice in his first 15 plate appearances for a .714 slugging percentage. Larson, a 20th-round pick last year, is batting .286 through his first four games. The GCL Twins aren't scheduled for any games at Pirate City this summer, but do come to Sarasota to play the GCL Orioles on July 2.

Ryan Pope - A Bayshore graduate and the first player ever to be drafted out of the Savannah College of Arts and Design, Pope joins Murphy on the RailRiders' roster. After stumbling during a 2011 Triple-A stint, Pope has pitched better thus far, posting a 2.92 ERA and 1-0 record in five games. Pope has walked just one in 12 1/3 innings while striking out seven.

Sean McAdams - Another area player drafted in 2012, McAdams is back in Sarasota with the GCL Orioles. He has a 8.10 ERA in two appearances, but does have one save and four strikeouts in 3 1/3 innings.

Granden Goetzman - The Palmetto native is healthy after missing most of last year with a stress fracture in his back, but is off to a slow start. Goetzman began the year with the Tampa Bay Rays high Single-A team in Bowling Green, but is now with low Single-A team in Hudson Valley after hitting .153 in 21 games at Bowling Green. Goetzman is batting .200 in six games with the Renegades.

Michael Ohlman - A Lakewood Ranch product, Ohlman is at high Single-A for the first time and making the most of it. Drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in 2009, Ohlman is hitting .306 with five home runs and 21 RBIs and four triples in 41 games with the Frederick Keys. Ohlman has been a designated hitter for 27 games and a catcher for 14, during which he has thrown out six of 27 runners trying to steal (22 percent).

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Prep football: Gugliemini named FHSAA football official of the year

photo by Tiffany Tompkins-Condie
Andy Gugliemini is best known around the area for his work with wrestlers.
The Florida High School Athletic Association appreciates the way he handles football games, too.
Gugliemini was named the FHSAA's football official of the year earlier this month. Gugliemini is also Manatee's wrestling coach.
He has officiated a regional final and state semifinal during his 20-year career and is also the president of the the Southern Independent Conference Officials Assocation.
"It's a huge honor, man," Gugliemini said. "I've put a lot of time in off and on the field. If I'm going to do something, I want to be the best."
As for wrestling, Gugliemini and his charges are headed to Orlando this week for the AAU Scholastic Duals, which run until Monday.
"And Tuesday," he said, "we go to Sea World."

Prep baseball: ODA looking for a baseball coach

Because of commitments to his business, Billy Dietrich has stepped down as Out-of-Door Academy's baseball coach.
Dietrich said he and his family will be relocating, which means Billy's son, Tyler, will also be leaving the school.
A rising junior and a catcher, Dietrich hit .480 with 20 RBIs and caught 73 percent of runners trying to steal this spring. Dietrich, according to his dad, is on a number of Division I radars. Tyler had verbally committed to play baseball at the University of Houston but said he has withdrawn his commitment.
Dietrich was also in the mix to be the football team's starting quarterback.
Billy Dietrich led the Thunder to the program's second district championship this spring, as ODA defeated Cardinal Mooney, which won both regular-season meetings, in the Class 3A-District 10 final.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Prep baseball video: Manatee's Cord Sandberg talks about his pro baseball debut

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Prep basketball: Antonio Blakeney cleared to play at Oak Ridge

photo by Tiffany Tompkins-Condie
Former Cardinal Mooney star Antonio Blakeney has been cleared to play at Orlando Oak Ridge, according to a story in the Orlando Sentinel.
Blakeney averaged 24.8 points and 7.6 rebounds last year in leading the Cougars to the Class 3A-Region 3 championship game but transferred to Oak Ridge in the spring because his mother took a job in Orlando.
The Florida High School Athletic Association approved the transfer of Blakeney as well as Alex Owens, a 6-foot-8 Bradenton native.
Each player's move to Oak Ridge was put under scrutiny because Blakeney and Owens play for Each 1 Teach 1 travel team. That team is coached by Edward "Boobie" Francis, who was an assistant at Oak Ridge, according to the report in the paper. He is no longer on staff, the Sentinel said.
"The member school (Oak Ridge) gave us a set of facts and asked us based on these facts to determine eligibility for two students," FHSAA compliance director Denarvise Thornton told the Sentinel. "We did communicate with various individuals by telephone. Both athletes are eligible to participate."
According to the story, the FHSAA spoke with the parents of both players, as well as Oak Ridge athletic director Janet Rasmussen, Francis and Oak Ridge head coach Alex Jackson.
"The FHSAA called and we answered every question they had," Jackson told the paper. "We're going to make sure these kids live in our zone and live with who they say they live with. We're moving forward."

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Prep football: IMG's Murphy hits first Triple-A home run

photo by Grant Jefferies
Bradenton native and IMG product J.R. Murphy didn't waste much time making an impact in Triple-A.
Ranked as the New York Yankees' 15th-best prospect, Murphy homered for Scranton-Wilkes Barre on Tuesday. It was his first home run since he was promoted from Double-A Trenton last week.
Murphy was hitting .268 with 25 RBIs in 49 games before his call up to Triple-A, which is one step away from the big club.
A catcher, Murphy threw out 24 of 50 basestealers with Trenton (48 percent) and has thrown out 30 percent in his professional career.
Murphy, 22, was the Yankees second-round pick in 2009.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Prep sports: FHSAA announces more tentative districts

Dwayne Strong will watch his Manatee Hurricanes battle a new slate of district opponents next spring after the Florida High School Athletic Association on Wednesday released its tentative districts for bowling, baseball, cheerleading, lacrosse, softball and tennis.
Teams have until June 25 to appeal their classifications.
Listed below are the districts involving area schools.

Class 8A-District 8
Palm Harbor University
Riverview (Sarasota)
St. Petersburg
Class 7A-District 10
Braden River
Lakewood Ranch
North Port
Class 5A-District 10
Boca Ciega (Gulfport)
Gibbs (St. Petersburg)
Lakewood (St. Petersburg)
Class 3A-District 10
Bradenton Christian
Cardinal Mooney
Imagine School (North Port) (baseball only)
St. Stephen's 

CHEERLEADING (local schools only)
Region 3
Lakewood Ranch

Class 4A-District 8
Countryside (Clearwater)
East Lake (Tarpon Springs)
North Port
Palm Harbor University
Pinellas Park (Largo)
Riverview (Sarasota)
Seminole (Seminole)
St. Petersburg
Class 3A-District 10
Braden River
Dixie Hollins (St. Petersburg)
Lakewood Ranch
Northeast (St. Petersburg)
Osceola (Seminole)
Class 2A-District 10
Boca Ciega (Gulfport)
Booker (Sarasota)
Gibbs (St. Petersburg)
Lakewood (St. Petersburg)
Robinson (Tampa)
Class 1A-District 9
Admiral Farragut (St. Petersburg)
Bradenton Christian
Canterbury (St. Petersburg)
Cardinal Mooney
Northside Christian (St. Petersburg)
Shorecrest Prep (St. Petersburg)
St. Petersburg Catholic
St. Stephen's  
 BOYS LACROSSE (Single Class)
District 17
Cardinal Mooney
Sarasota Military Academy
St. Stephen's
District 16
Cardinal Mooney
Sarasota Military Academy
St. Stephen's

Prep sports: Braden River wins sportsmanship award

Braden River is a winner in the Florida High School Athletic Association's Fred E. Rozelle Sportsmanship Award for Class 7A.
Originated in 1991, the award goes to the school which best exemplifies sportsmanship among its players, coaches and fans.
The Pirates were named the winners in Section 3 and overall in Class 7A.
Section winners received $500 and the overall winners get an additional $2,500.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Prep baseball: Remembering the Phillies' other Sandberg

photo by Tiffany Tompkins-Condie
As you can see by the hat, Manatee's Cord Sandberg was a third-round pick of the Philadelphia Phillies today during the second day of the baseball draft.
Of course, this isn't the first time the Phillies took a flyer on a Sandberg: Ryne Sandberg, no relation to Cord, was the franchise's 20th-round pick June 6, 1978. He signed with the Phillies nine days later.
Ryne made it to the Phils' Triple-A affiliate in 1981 and made his major-league debut Sept. 2 of that same year, batting .167 in 13 games.
That was the last of Sandberg's stint with Phillies - on Jan. 27, 1982, Sandberg and Larry Bowa were shipped to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for outfielder Ivan de Jesus in a trade not many Phillies fans wish to discuss, and with good reason.
Sandberg became a Hall-of-Famer with the Cubs, batting .285 with 282 home runs and 2,386 hits.  A 10-time All-Star, Sandberg was the National League's Most Valuable Player in 1984 and won eight straight Gold Gloves at second base.
de Jesus, meanwhile, spent three years in Philly (1982-84) and batted .249 in 463 games with a .319 on-bast percentage. He was dealt to the St. Louis Cardinals in '85.
Now we'll get to find out how the local Sandberg pans out for the Phillies.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Prep basketball: Southeast's Washington named district coach of the year

Southeast boys basketball coach Elliot Washington has been named the District 16 Class 5A Coach of the Year by the Florida Athletic Coaches Association.
Washington guided the Seminoles to a 15-12 record this season and berth in the Class 5A-District 12 semifinals.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Prep sports: Lakewood Ranch girls win 6A all-sports award

photo by Tiffany Tompkins-Condie
Thanks in part of the work of state track champ Kristin Zarrella, Lakewood Ranch's girls won the FHSAA Floyd E. Lay Sunshine Cup in Class 6A.
The Mustangs totaled 430 points to breeze by second-place Naples Barron Collier (330).
Points are awarded to each school for where it finishes in all of the FHSAA's sanctioned sports, with 100 points going to state champions, 90 for runner-up, 83 for the state semifinalists, 60 for places five through eight,and 25 for places nine through 16.
Schools are also awarded five-point bonuses for winning district and regional titles.
Zarrella, a senior, took first in the 800-meter run during the Class 3A state track and field championships in Jacksonville.
(Class 3A is the second-largest classification in track).
Lakewood Ranch's softball and volleyball teams made the state final four, while the girls basketball team won the program's first district title during the winter.
The girls cross country took fifth in the Class 3A state meet over the fall.
Powered by the girls' successful season, the Mustangs finished third overall in the Class 6A Sunshine Cup standings with 613 points.
Interested in how your favorite school fared?
Click here.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Prep softball: Braden River's Mirabella finished 4th in Miss Softball balloting

photo by Grant Jefferies
Braden River fireballer Courtney Mirabella placed fourth in the balloting for the 2013 Florida Dairy Farmers Miss Softball award.
Mirabella received four first-place votes and tallied 115 points.
The senior went 15-3 with a 0.15 ERA and 276 strikeouts in 138 innings for the Pirates en route to being named the Class 7A State Player of the Year. Braden River will retire her No.3 during the football team's home-opener Aug. 31.
Mirabella has signed to play at North Carolina State.
Stephanie Texeira, a senior from Gulliver Prep, was named the Miss Softball for 2013 after batting .547 with 16 home runs and 47 RBIs.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Prep football video: Manatee 41, Lincoln 2

Manatee coach Joe Kinnan and quarterback Josh Meyer speak after Friday's 41-2 win over Lincoln in a spring football game.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Prep football: Manatee's spring game with Lincoln ranked best in Florida

photo by Grant Jefferies
Joe Kinnan has scheduled the best spring football game in the state of Florida.
This is according to the folks at floridahsfootball.com, which has the Hurricanes' game with Tallahassee Lincoln atop its rankings of the top 20 spring football games.
"Look for this spring game to be like a typical Friday night game rather than just a game to figure out what is working right and what needs to be fixed.," the caption read.
Manatee spent most of last season ranked No.1 in the country by MaxPreps, USA Today and ESPN before falling to Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas in the Class 7A state final.
Aquinas went on to beat Lincoln for the 7A title.
Friday's game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. at Hawkins Stadium.

Prep football: Palmetto's QB battle a "tight" one

photo by Grant Jefferies
Another year, another quarterback competition at Palmetto.
This time, Chris Tuten, the incumbent pictured above, is looking to keep his starting job while Jack Allison looks to take it.
"It's tight," said coach Dave Marino.
Tuten was a sophomore last season who lost out on the starting job to senior Spencer Atkins. Atkins suffered a injury during the first game of the season, however, and moved to linebacker when he returned.
Tuten threw for 1,264 yards and 17 touchdowns in helping the Tigers to a third straight playoff appearance. But the 6-foot-2 Allison, a rising sophomore, is giving Tuten a run this spring.
"Jack has made unbelievable strides," Marino said. "Right now, Chris has just a little bit better grasp of our offense. But Jack throws an accurate ball, he throws a catchable ball - he's just doing outstanding.
"It's real tight. Jack's competing very well. We're excited with the prospect he has, and the upside is just off the charts for him."
Considering neither player is a senior, whomever finishes second may be the backup for the next two seasons. Or, as he did last year when he moved Atkins to linebacker, Marino could switch either Tuten or Allison to a different position.
Each will get an equal amount of reps Thursday when the Tigers host Booker at 7 p.m.
"We've got to let them continue to compete," Marino said, "and just see who the best one is for us."

Friday, May 17, 2013

Prep football: Saint Stephen's schedule

photo by Tiffany Tompkins-Condie

Saint Stephen's has chosen to compete as an independent this season after it's appeal to move out of Class 3A-District 6 was denied.
The Falcons will play in the newly-formed Gulf Atlantic Football Conference. According to a story in the Fort Myers News-Press, the conference will consist of 10 teams, and the Falcons will be in the Gulf Division with Community School of Naples, Oasis, Fort Myers Gateway Charter and Fort Myers Canterbury.
The top two teams in each division advance to the conference playoffs.
The Falcons are still a member of the Florida High School Athletic Association, but as an independent, cannot compete for district, regional or state football titles.
Listed below is their 2013 schedule. Game times are 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted.

8/23 at Citrus Park Christian (Kickoff Classic) TBA
8/30 at Clearwater Calvary Christian 7:30 p.m.
9/13 at Winter Park Trinity Prep, 5 p.m.
9/27 at St. Petersburg Canterbury
10/4 OASIS
10/11 at Fort Myers Canterbury TBA
11/1 at Fort Myers Gateway Charter
11/8 Conference playoffs
11/15 Conference championship 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Prep sports: Lakewood Ranch wins 6A academic team title

Lakewood Ranch totaled 140 points to win the Class 6A Florida High School Athletic Association Academic Team title.
The Mustangs cruised past Fort Myers, second with 118 points.
Scores were totaled by how each team fared in each sport's grade-point averages, with 10 points being awarded for a first place finish.
Saint Stephen's finished fourth in Class 2A with 39 points.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Prep football: Three Palmetto players choose colleges

photo by Grant Jefferies
A pair of Palmetto defensive players and a kicker will officially announce their college choices 2:30 p.m. Thursday in the lobby of the school's gym.
Defensive end Josh Layhew and linebacker Austin Cavey are headed to Webber International University in Babson Park. The Warriors compete independently in the NAIA.
Kicker Zack Reda is off to the University of Mount Union in Ohio, one of the most successful programs in Division III.
The Purple Raiders won their 11th national championship last season and the last under coach Larry Kehres, who recently stepped down after leading Mount Union to 332 wins and 21 undefeated regular seasons in 27 years.
He was replaced by Vince Kehres, who has been on the Purple Raiders' staff for 13 years and spent the last eight as the defensive coordinator.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Prep football: IMG Academy announces schedule

The IMG Academy football team unveiled its schedule today, with the team playing its first game 7:30 p.m. against Palm Beach in a Kickoff Classic at IMG Academy Stadium.
Here is the team's schedule. IMG is an independent member of the Florida High School Athletic Association and does not compete in a district.
All games are at 7:30 p.m. unless otherwise noted, and homes games are in caps.

8/24 PALM BEACH LAKES (Kickoff Classic)
8/30 at Apopka Olympia
9/20 at Ocala Trinity Catholic, 7 p.m.
10/4 at Opa-locka Monsignor Edward Pace, 7 p.m.
10/18 at Jacksonville Trinity Christian Academy
11/8 at Naples

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Prep baseball: Manatee's Sandberg ranked among nation's best

MaxPreps has listed Manatee centerfielder Cord Sandberg as one of the nation's top 10 high school outfielders entering the June draft.
"Some mock drafts have Sandberg, who quarterbacked the Manatee football team last season, going late in the compensatory rounds or somewhere in the second round," writes MaxPreps' Kevin Askeland. "Sandberg already has a scholarship to Mississippi State, where he will play football, so don't be surprised to see him slide in the draft despite his first-round talent."
Throughthefencebaseball.com has Sandberg going to the Philadelphia Phillies with the draft's 96th pick,  while minorleagebaseball.com believes the Detroit Tigers will choose him with pick No. 36.
What does it all mean?
We'll see when the draft gets underway Thursday, June 6.

Prep football: IMG announces coaching staff

IMG's football team will play under the leadership of Chris Weinke when it begins its first official season in late August.
Weinke will serve as the  head coach and quarterbacks coach when IMG makes its debut Aug. 24.
The rest of his staff was announced Thursday:
 E.G. Green, offensive coordinator/wide receivers; Joe Sturdivant, defensive coordinator/linebackers; Michael Gruttadauria, offensive line; Adam Behrends, running backs/asst. quarterbacks coach; Michael Hawthorne, defensive backs; Andrew Myers, defensive line.
IMG is an independent member of the Florida High School Athletic Association, which means it cannot compete for district, regional or state titles. The team will play its home games at IMG Academy Stadium, which is pictured above in a rendering provided by IMG.
The school also announced it will field a cross country and track and field team beginning in the fall.