BRADENTON -- Manatee and ESPN are a good match.
The Hurricanes opened the regular season Sunday with a 41-6 thumping of Miramar in a game broadcast live on ESPN2.
Two years ago, ESPN came to Bradenton for the first time and witnessed the Hurricanes' 48-10 win over Tampa Plant.
Do the math -- that's an 89-16 combined score whenever ESPN's cameras are perched inside of Hawkins Stadium.
But it wasn't just national television that made Sunday special. All the game's proceeds benefitted the Wounded Warrior Project, and Manatee wore special navy blue uniforms for the event while the Canes' coaches wore black T-shirts with WWP splashed across the front.
And though the 2 p.m. start made for some toasty conditions at Hawkins Stadium, where nearly every spectator was seen fanning themselves while sitting in the shade-free bleachers, Manatee seem undeterred, and looked fine in playing its first meaningful game since winning last year's Class 7A state final.
"We play one game, and next week, we've got another game. We've been pretty focused in that we've not looked ahead," said coach Joe Kinnan, whose Canes are ranked No. 1 in the nation by MaxPreps, No. 2 by USA Today and No. 3 by Rivals. "We demand effort from (our players) and we work hard."
Manatee has a quick turnaround Friday, when the Hurricanes head to Riverview to face the Rams.
The Hurricanes return home Sept. 14 to face Miami Central, which was ranked No.1 in USA Today's preseason poll before losing 35-3 to Georgia's Grayson High on Friday.