News Section: Sports
Manatee Batters Miramar 41-6 in ESPN Showcase
Blake Keller blocks a punt in the 2nd quarter
photo by Dennis Maley
BRADENTON – In a game reminiscent of many from the 2011 season, the Manatee Hurricanes started slow in their 41-6 route of 8A powerhouse Miramar in Sunday's nationally-televised game. Tied 6-6 going into the half, the offense was limited to just two field goals. But after a few adjustments, Coach Kinnan had his boys ready to go and they quickly put up five TD's in the second half to come away with a dominant win.
Everyone knew that the Patriots, who were 13-1 last season losing only to Tampa Plant in the 8A state finals, would be one of the toughest teams the 'Canes faced this season. On the opening possession, they drove down field with authority, putting up a TD, but missing the extra point. It looked lke the 'Canes would have their hands full.
Manatee stumbled through several red zone penalties in the first half, while QB Cord Sandberg couldn't seem to get in sync with his receivers, missing several who were wide open, while they let a few perfect passes slip through their hands as well. Greg Moss hit two field goals, though both were close.
As the halftime whistles blew, it looked as if Manatee's national championship chances were about to be tested by a quick and physical team, sporting a dynamic offense. But in familiar fashion, the 'Canes came out firing on all cylinders in the third quarter.
Cord Sandberg and Travon Walters walk to the line
photo by Dennis Maley
Sandberg connected with Travon Walters for a TD, and later hit Marquel Hines on a beautiful 51-yard TD pass. DB Willie Smith had two picks and the Manatee defensive line got sack happy in the second half, as all four linemen contributed sacks.
Relentless pass rusher Blake Keller blocked two punts, including one that he took in for the score, picking it up in stride on the initial bounce without ever looking back.
In the end, Manatee's depth and physical play continued to grind down Miramar on both sides of the ball until the contest devolved into little more than an exhibition of one team's superiority.
Manatee is at Riverview next Friday and then return to Hawkins Stadium on September 14 for the big Showdown with USA Today's number-one ranked team, Miami Central in a game that is very likely to decide the consensus High School national championship.
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