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PREVIEW: Southeast vs. Manatee (FL)

September 27, 2012

The Southeast Seminoles will play host to the Hurricanes of Manatee High School this Friday night in the 31st meeting between the two programs. The Hurricanes enter the game as the #2 team in the country according to This classic Florida rivalry dates back to 1974 and is one of the biggest rivalries in the state. Manatee won the 2011 matchup, 48-6, and holds a 16-14 advantage in the all-time series between the two schools that have combined to win 7 state championships.

Fresh off of their state championship season, the Manatee Hurricanes are looking to do something their school has never done before, win back-to-back state championships. Head Coach Joe Kinnan had a chance to do it back in 1993 when the Hurricanes made it back to the finals but lost to Miami Southridge. Kinnan’s 2012 team looks poised to make program history as they entered the season ranked in the Top-5. Cord Sandberg will return as the starting quarterback for the Hurricanes. Sandberg threw for almost 2,200 yards and 19 touchdowns last season to go along with over 800 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground. His 2011 campaign was enough to earn the Class 7A Player of the Year. He is ranked as the #12 dual-threat quarterback and has committed to play at Mississippi State University. Trevon Walters will line up in the backfield as running back for the Hurricanes while Anthony Lauro and Ja Juan Pollock will give Sandberg athletic receivers to throw to. Walters, a sophomore, just transferred to Manatee this year. Senior Derrick Calloway will anchor the defensive line that is widely regarded as one of the best in the country. Calloway is ranked as the #18 defensive tackle in the nation. Manatee has won 15 straight going and will have a bye week to help prepare for the showdown with Southeast.

Head Coach Paul Maechtle’s 2011 Seminole team finished with a 7-3 overall record. The Seminoles are looking to get back to the playoffs and contend for a state title, a title they have not won since Peter Warrick led them to one in 1994. The Noles lost Brian Poole to the University of Florida, but they will have a lot of experience as they return 13 starters from a year ago. Senior Myles Braxton-Johnson is back at quarterback and is looking to have a breakout season. Braxton-Johnson threw for over 1,300 yards last season to go along with 9 touchdowns. Junior Courtney Allen returns at running back to give Braxton-Johnson a passing option out of the backfield. Allen went down at the end of last season with an injury and missed the final two games, both of which the Seminoles lost. In his career, Allen has rushed for over 1,200 yards and 20 touchdowns. The defense will be based around its secondary. Jordan Grabski, Isaac Pickney and returning starter Eric Thompson will give the Seminoles a deep secondary. Add in junior Troy Thompskin at safety and Southeast will have one of the area’s best secondarys.

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Each fall for over a century, high school football has been the centerpiece for families and communities on Friday night. In 2004, iHigh, Inc. created the Great American Rivalry Series to celebrate this uniquely American sport and the cultural phenomenon of “Friday Night in America.” The Series shines the spotlight on top high school football rivalries across the nation, where long-standing traditions are valued, expectations are sky high, and followers are committed.