Manatee Hurricanes fall short in quest to defend state football title


jlembo@bradenton.comDecember 8, 2012 

FORT LAUDERDALE -- The last Florida team to beat Manatee is the latest Florida team to beat Manatee.

The Hurricanes' season was cut short Friday, when the Hurricanes lost 35-18 to Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas in a Class 7A state semifinal.

It was an upset -- Manatee (13-1) entered the game ranked No. 1 nationally by ESPN, MaxPreps and USA Today and had won 25 straight.

The Raiders (12-2), however, limited the Hurricanes' offense, averaging close to 52 points per game, to just 18.

"They were the far superior team," said head coach Joe Kinnan.

The Hurricanes will not get a chance to defend their state title next week at the Florida Citrus Bowl, and Friday's game marked the end for a number of key Manatee seniors, including defensive linemen Blake Keller, Derrick Calloway and Marquis Dawsey, offensive lineman Thor Miller and quarterback Cord Sandberg.

"It's tough," Sandberg said.

The Raiders rushed for 300 yards and totaled 489 yards of total offense, and have defeated Manatee in a state semifinal four times in five tries since 2005.

Manatee is now 0-3 at Brian Piccolo Stadium.

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