Prep football | Unbeaten Manatee routs Lakewood Ranch 49-6 as playoffs await

Unbeaten Manatee routs Lakewood Ranch as playoffs await

jdill@bradenton.comNovember 10, 2012 

BRADENTON -- For a quarter and a series, it was the football equivalent of Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa.

The Manatee Hurricanes' ridiculous offense performed about as consistent as a unit can in high school football.

Consequently, the top-ranked team in the country had little trouble dispatching Lakewood Ranch 49-6 at Joe Kinnan Field at Hawkins Stadium on Friday.

Manatee (10-0) ran 17 offensive plays, producing 10 first downs and five touchdowns before the starters began exiting for rest ahead of next week's Class 7A-Region 3 opener at home against St. Petersburg Northeast.

It's Manatee's second undefeated regular season in three years and fifth under head coach Joe Kinnan.

"Now these are all money games," Kinnan said. "You win, you continue on and you lose, and you go home. So it's a one-game season. And a lot of the guys that saw action (Friday), ain't going to see it again."

Quarterback Cord Sandberg completed 9 of 10 passes for 140 yards during the stretch that covered the first quarter and the first series of the second quarter.

His 46-yard run on the game's first play showcased the Canes' offensive might, and just how Manatee would be in the opening quarter.

Manatee scored 35 points, four touchdowns on offense and one coming on a Darryl Brookins' 67-yard punt return.

Sandberg's pinpoint accuracy was so good that even when he missed an intended target, the result of the play was usually good. For instance, the Mississippi State-bound quarterback tossed a ball to Marquel Hines, but it deflected off the junior wide receiver.

Rather than Ranch (5-5) scooping up the tipped ball for an interception, it deflected into the waiting arms of senior Ja'Juan Pollock (five receptions, 70 yards), who scored early in the first-quarter scoring barrage.

"I've never had that happen, that was awesome," Sandberg said. "Execution is great and on that play, Hines is open and I'm trying to hit him ... Ja'Juan was paying attention. Tip drill ... That was probably one of the most complete quarters that I've ever been a part of."

Junior running back Trevon Walters ran the ball five times in that span for 113 yards and three touchdowns.

He was removed along with Sandberg after Manatee's first possession of the second quarter.

Manatee's offense slowed down slightly, adding one final score after halftime. By that time, the Canes already secured an undefeated regular season with a lopsided win.

The Canes also extended their winning streak over Manatee County foes to 24 straight, and have won 29 consecutive non-playoff games against Florida opponents.

And after dropping two games to out-of-state competition at the beginning of 2011, Manatee has reeled off 22 straight victories following Friday's win.

"Winning breeds winning," Kinnan said. "It becomes a habit. And it's a good habit to have. Just like losing sometimes can breed losing. The kids that play for us, we have high expectations for them and to win is one of the expectations. Now comes the hard part. We're in the playoffs and by golly, we've got to continue to be ready to play."

The offensive explosion during the first half produced 359 total yards for Manatee, while the Hurricanes defense stifled Ranch to just 31 total yards before intermission.

Senior linebacker John McElfresh, who was named last week's defensive player of the game for Manatee, had eight tackles in the first quarter before finishing with 14 for the game.

"We knew they were good," Ranch head coach Shawn Trent said. "You don't want to start five freshmen against Manatee. That's what you don't want to do, I can promise you that. Their biggest strength is their D-line, and we had three freshman playing offensive line (Friday). So, it's not exactly a recipe for success going into it."

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