Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Volleyball: Manatee's Cothron, Coulter win Class 8A awards

Winning its first state title is continuing to pay dividends for Manatee's volleyball team.
Haley Coulter was named the Class 8A Player of the Year and Tony Cothron was named the classification's Coach of the Year in the Florida Dairy Farmers High School Sports Awards after helping the Hurricanes win a state championship Nov.  15.
Coulter earned 132 points to beat Jupiter's Cara Guthrie (119) after finishing the season with 356 kills, 261 digs and 31 blocks. In Manatee's state semifinal and final victories, Coulter, a junior who has committed to Tulsa, had 32 kills and 22 digs.
"It's nice to be recognized for something I love to do,"  Coulter said, "and this award is just as much mine as it is my coach's, my team and my family's. I wouldn't be the player that I am today without them."
By winning the honor in Class 8A, Coulter is up for Miss Volleyball along with the players of the year in the state's  seven other classifications.
Manatee had never advanced past the regional semifinals before Cothron took over the program prior to this season. A longtime area club coach, Cothron led the Canes to 25 wins and a 3-1 win over nationally-ranked Jupiter in the state championship match.
Cothron tallied 146 points to beat Jupiter's Blane Betz (133) and is now a nominee for the state's overall  Coach of the Year honor.
Lakewood Ranch coach Perri Hankins finished third  in the Class 7A Coach of the Year honors with 49 points. Hankins helped the Mustangs reach the state semifinals for the second time in three years.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Football: Former Seminole and personal trainer Charles Chestnut honoring late friend

Southeast alum Charles Chestnut, owner of Chestnut Performance Training, is conducting free workouts at his Lakewood Ranch training center this week in honor of his friend, Gabriella "Gigi" Longpre, who was killed in a car accident Thursday.
Longpre, a Bradenton resident, was  22.
Workouts at Chestnut Performance Training, 7345 International Place, Suite 103 in Lakewood Ranch, are scheduled for Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday at 6:30  p.m.  and Wednesday and Friday at 8:30 a.m. They are free of charge though donations will be accepted to help  Longpre's family pay for the services.
Chestnut is also hosting a candlelight vigil  8:45 p.m. tonight at the Riverwalk in Bradenton.
Chestunt starred in football  and track at Southeast before playing football at Western Illinois, where he earned a degree in biology. A certified personal trainer, Chestnut founded CPT in 2013.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Football: Vero Beach has a dangerous QB-WR tandem

photo courtesy of Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers
John Booth knows a thing or two about being a prolific quarterback.
In order for his Manatee Hurricanes to reach the Class 8A-Region 2 title game, they need to contain one.
Vero Beach heads to Hawkins Stadium on Friday for a regional semifinal. Leading the way for the Indians is quarterback Carter Stanley, who has thrown for 2,819 yards and 36 touchdowns for the 11-0 Indians, who are looking to reach a regional final for the first time  in 11 years.
Friday's winner plays either Tampa Plant or Orlando Dr.Phillips next Friday for the regional championship and a spot in the final four.
"Really (need to) try to create some pressure with our defensive line on their quarterback," Booth said. "If we let him sit in the pocket and just be comfortable all night, he's good enough to kind of pick you apart and get it to their different weapons."
After graduating from  Manatee in 2000, Booth played at MidAmerica Nazarene, a NAIA school in Kansas, and threw for 4,250 yards and 42 touchdowns to earn All-America honors and a spot in the school's hall of fame.
"So we've got to get pressure on him and collapse that pocket,"   Booth said of Stanley, "and get him to make some errant throws."
Manatee has had success getting pressure on quarterbacks, recording 44 during the regular season, including 21 from end Kwanzi Jackson. Manatee also intercepted 12 passes, and the Canes will call on that secondary to try and quell M.J. McGriff, Stanley's favorite target who has pulled in 97 catches and 20 touchdowns this season.
McGriff has also returned two kickoffs for touchdowns, which means Manatee needs a big night from kicker Nick Null, who has sent 40 of 64 kickoffs into the end zone for a touchback.

"They’ve got a special talent at receiver,"  Booth said. "He can beat you in the screen game, he can get vertical on you. So we have to make sure we stay over the top of him."

Monday, November 17, 2014

Volleyball: Notes and observations from Manatee's state championship

photo by John Lembo
-  If you like close volleyball, Manatee was the team for you. The Hurricanes won their six sets against University and Jupiter by a combined 14 points and allowed 22 points or more in each one. Jupiter actually outscored Manatee 98-93 in the championship  match, which Manatee won 3-1 on the strength of three two-point victories.
- Manatee lost just three sets in seven postseason matches, dropping two to Palm Harbor University in a Region 2 semifinal and another to Jupiter in the championship match.
- If there was an official MVP of the tournament, Haley Coulter would have made a strong candidate. The Tulsa commit had 32 kills and 22 digs in the semifinal  and  final to go along with five blocks. No surprise the junior is up for Player of the Year honors in Class 8A.
- Speaking of awards, Canes coach Tony Cothron has a solid shot of winning the title in Class 8A. Manatee never made it past the regional  semifinals before Cothron showed up and the Canes wound up winning the county's first state volleyball title since Palmetto in 1986.
- The last area volleyball team to reach a state final was  Cardinal  Mooney, a runner-up to  Orlando Bishop  Moore in Class 3A in  2000. Palmetto is the last county team to do so,  falling to Estero in 1988 in the Class 2A final. That capped quite a run for the Tigers, won a state title in '86 and made the final four the following year.
- The Hurricanes had a two-headed set monster in  Kissimmee  as junior Gillian Cassidy and freshman Gabby Coulter teamed for 82 assists in the two matches. They were balanced, too - Coulter had 42, Cassidy had 40.
- How did Manatee win so  many close sets? Success at the service line helped. The Hurricanes totaled 19 aces at Kissimmee, including six from Stefani Keller. (Jupiter and University combined for seven.) A freshman, Keller won the Region 2 championship match at Orlando Timber Creek with an ace to send Manatee to the state semifinals.
- The volleyball team is  Manatee's first indoor team to win a state title since the boys weightlifting team won the Class 4A title in 1990. Nine boys lifters have won individual titles for Manatee. The wrestling team has 16 individual championships but never won the team trophy, finishing second in 1973, 2007 and '09. The girls lifting team crowned a champ in 2004 when Sam DeCristofaro won at 129 pounds.
(Cheerleading is a bit tricky. Manatee has won consecutive state cheer titles but is that considered an inside sport? Discuss.)
- Not a bad year for volleyball  in Sarasota and Manatee counties. Venice and Manatee won state titles and  Lakewood Ranch reached the state semifinals for the second time in three years.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Prep volleyball: Manatee, Orange City University have already met

photo by Timothy R. Wolfrum
Friday marks Manatee's first time playing in a state semifinal though it won't mark the first time the Hurricanes have seen their opponent.
Manatee plays Orange City University at 9 a.m. Friday in a Class 8A state semifinal in Kissimmee less than two months after beating the Titans 2-0 during the Winter Park/Lake Highland Showcase.
The Hurricanes won 25-22, 25-23 on Sept. 13.
"They just know they have to come out and play, and play defense," said Canes coach Tony Cothron. "I think across the board we're more offensive than the other team, but we just need to play defense. If we play defense like we did Saturday (at Orlando Timber Creek in the Region 2 final), it's going to be a short day for us...We didn't play defense very well."
Haley and JoJo Coulter had eight kills each for Manatee against the Titans, who had nine kills from Jenna Talbert.
The defenses matched up well: Manatee had 31 digs, led by Haley Coulter and Jesse Durst, who had 10 each; Rebekah Blunt and Monica Jones had eight apiece for the Titans, who had 29. And Manatee made 12 digging errors to the Titans' 13.
MaxPreps ranks Manatee third in Class 8A while University is fourth, making this an even more of a tougher match to call.
The winner plays either Jupiter or Miami Coral Reef at 11:05 a.m. Saturday for the state championship.