The headline -- "RAMS ROCK NO. 1 MANATEE" -- was splashed across the Bradenton Herald on Saturday, Sept. 14, 1991, a day after the Riverview Rams defeated the hometown Hurricanes.
"Riverview Runs Through The Eye of The Hurricanes," the subhead read.
Left in the wake?
Manatee's chances of winning a national championship.
Riverview came into Hawkins Stadium that night and left with a 35-28 victory in the first game of the regular season, the first game since USA Today anointed Manatee the No. 1 prep football team in the country.
This is Week 2, mind you. But it was just a few days ago that Manatee shot to the top of USA Today's Super 25, a jump aided by the Canes' resounding 41-6 win over Miramar and Grayson (Ga.) engineering a 32-point thumping of former No. 1 Miami Central.
Manatee's opponent this week?
But according to Manatee coach Joe Kinnan, the similarities stop there.
"We were No.1, but it was in name only," he said, referring to the '91 team.
"We didn't have the people on the trenches on both sides of the ball. We had some great skill kids, with Tommie (Frazier) and Tyrone (Williams) and Henry Smalls and people like that. But we didn't have the other guys."
This year?"We've earned being there. Now whether we're good enough to stay there depends on how we play," Kinnan said.
Williams, who rushed for more than 1,500 yards in '90, was limited to 54 after hurting his ankle that night in the third quarter. And Manatee's defense had no answer for Rams back Shawn Bane, who chugged for 235 yards and two touchdowns.
The Rams weren't a fluke. They beat Manatee again in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs after the Canes closed their regular season on a nine-game winning streak.
Three years later, Riverview defeated Southeast, without an injured Peter Warrick, after the Seminoles were ranked No. 1 by USA Today.
"Riverview, back then, was an outstanding football team," Kinnan said.
Throughout all the hype and anticipation this year, Kinnan has praised his players' focus and work ethic. He's pleased with how they have handled this past week and the quick turnaround following last week's regular-season opener on ESPN2.
He sounded more cautious in '91, telling a reporter days before the game how the Canes' No. 1 ranking could be taken away just as quick as it was given to them.
That can still happen. Kinnan is aware of it, and so are his players. Because anything can happen on a Friday night. Just ask the 1991 Hurricanes.
John Lembo, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7080, ext. 2097.