Commentary | Local sports myths to ponder on a hot summer day

June 19, 2013 

What could be better on a dog day afternoon than to dispel some myths regarding Manatee County sports?

MYTH NO. 1 -- Manatee High has won five state football titles.

The truth is this school has won six, though you will never find a record of the first unless you are diligent enough to obtain a copy of the long-defunct Manatee River Journal.

If able, you will learn that in 1915, Manatee County High School, which eventually morphed into Manatee High, won a state football championship.

By today's standards, the team would be too small and not quick enough to be compared to the five state title squads the Canes have won under Joe Kinnan.

But that 1915 team was special, going unbeaten and unscored upon while putting up 211 points in its nine games -- and did it with only 13 players on the roster.

Travel was an adventure. To play St. Petersburg (which Manatee defeated 45-0 and 39-0) the players went by boat and then had to walk several miles to the game site. Other road trips often took two days and were made by a rail system that was in its infancy.

There was no Florida High School Athletic Association, and Manatee won the mythical state title when it defeated Gainesville 10-0, not allowing a road trip that took two days to tire them out. Afterward, Manatee head coach Julian C. Howard wrote the game story and ranked the state's top teams, putting his club number one.

MYTH NO. 2 -- There are no prep sports dynasties.

We are paraphrasing the words of FHSAA Executive Director Roger Dearing, who went on an all-out media blitz recently when his organization and job were in jeopardy of being eliminated by the state legislature.

Dearing argued the dis

solution of the FHSAA and his authority would create sports dynasties. But the facts say they already exist, particularly in football among private schools, which have no residential boundaries and can promote themselves.

With 11 titles, Jacksonville Bolles has won the most state football championships. There are four other programs that have won seven, and they are all private schools along with Bolles. Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas has won four state titles since 2007, and Bolles has won four since '06.

In the FHSAA Sunshine Cup All Sports Award standings, Aquinas overwhelmed the competition with 1,407.5 points. Among the six schools with the highest point totals, five were private and only one other (American Heritage Plantation) scored more than 1,000.

MYTH NO. 3 -- Peter Warrick and Adrian McPherson are the two most highly skilled, versatile athletes Manatee County has produced.

This is more about who has been left out. There is a third person who deserves to be part of this conversation, but unfortunately he played five decades ago.

You could make a case that Richard Trapp is the county's best all-around athlete. The 1963 Manatee High grad was a three-sport standout who in 1968 was a third-round NFL draft pick and second-round choice by the New York Yankees.

He was the starting shortstop on Manatee's '63 state championship baseball team and starting guard on the Canes' conference championship basketball team.

Trapp didn't play football until his senior year and still was good enough to earn a scholarship to the University of Florida, where as a receiver in '67 he was the SEC Offensive Player of The Year.

Throw in this kicker: In later years, he won the USTA National 40-and-over Hard Court Tennis Championships and was the University of Florida's billiards and table tennis champ when he attended school there.

MYTH NO. 4 -- Successful high school coaches in Manatee County recruit.

Touchy subject, but in Manatee County the top athletic programs basically draw players on their own merits. Parents these days are more attuned to which programs best fit their child's needs and are willing to move or use school choice. This goes along with a smaller part of this myth that some high school coaches still believe: that they own a student-athlete's playing rights the day he or she walks into their school.

Some mini-myths that demand our attention:

• Southeast will never beat Manatee in football again: A few Brian Pooles ago, it would've been blasphemy to broach this subject. But now?

• State College of Florida will hire 10 head basketball coaches in 10 years: The school is halfway there, so exercise caution before calling this a myth.

• Barry Bonds will be voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame: More than half of America hopes this remains a myth.

• Roger Clemens will someday tell the truth: See Barry Bonds.

Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7080, ext. 2112. Follow him on Twitter at @ADellSports.

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