|photo by Paul Videla|
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.