Manatee Hurricanes, Palmetto Tigers remain at No. 1 in AP's Florida prep football polls

jlembo@bradenton.comSeptember 18, 2012 

Still undefeated, still on top.

That's the story for Manatee and Palmetto, both of which stayed atop of this week's The Associated Press state football rankings that were released Monday.

The Hurricanes (3-0) ended last season No.1 in Class 7A after beating Jacksonville First Coast to win the state title and haven't budged since, earning all 16 first-place votes this week.

Manatee defeated Miami Central 44-34 on Friday night and has not lost a regular-season game to Florida school since 2009.

Central, a state runner-up in Class 6A last year, began the year ranked first in country by USA Today.

Friday's win helped Manatee maintain the top spot in MaxPreps' Xcellent 25 National Football rankings and vaulted the Canes to No.2 in the ESPN 25 Power Rankings.

They entered play Friday ranked third by ESPN.

Manatee is ranked No.1 by USA Today, which publishes its national poll every Tues

day, and is fourth in the RivalsHigh100, which updates each Wednesday.

The Hurricanes are off Friday before returning to action Sept. 28 against rival Southeast.

"Then we get ready to make the district run," said Manatee coach Joe Kinnan, whose Canes play their Class 7A-District 10 opener Oct. 5 at Braden River. "I look at it as three groups - we got the early season, which is going to test us, then we've got the district run and then we've got the playoffs, hopefully. We look at three different groups and three different ways to approach them, so it's three different seasons."

Palmetto (3-0) continued its roll with a 40-0 win Friday over Braden River while holding the Pirates to minus-18 rushing yards.

The Tigers began the year ranked fifth and shot to No.1 last week. They continued their hold on the top this week, garnering 14 of a possible 16 first-place votes.

Pasco (No.2) and Wakulla (No.3) received on first-place vote apiece.

Palmetto's ascent to No.1 has been impressive. The Tigers lost eight starters on defense from last year's team, which became the program's first final four team since 1986.

And they've been bitten by the injury bug, especially in Week 1, when they lost quarterback Spencer Atkins (shoulder) and running back Josh Hicks (ankle).

But wide receiver Cory Crawford has been a revelation out of the backfield, rushing for 518 yards in relief of Hicks, an All-Area First Team pick last year as sophomore.

And sophomore Chris Tuten threw four touchdowns Week 2 starting in place of Atkins, a senior who returned to action Friday against the Pirates.

Palmetto has won 16 of its last 17 regular season games dating back to the last four games of 2010 and opens its Class 5A-District 10 schedule Friday at home against Arcadia DeSoto.

DeSoto beat Frostproof on Friday to run its record to 3-0 after finishing last season 3-7.

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