PAL Bowl will no longer be all-star game between Manatee, Sarasota seniors

Manatee, Sarasota counties end series after 21 years

jlembo@bradenton.comSeptember 26, 2013 

BRADENTON -- This is the end of the Brad Price Memorial PAL Bowl football game as we know it.

Dave Bristow, spokesperson for the Manatee County Sheriff's Office and the game's coordinator, said the event will no longer be an all-star game pitting the best senior football players from Manatee County against their counterparts from Sarasota.

Instead, organizers are considering hosting an event consisting of youth all-star teams from the Manatee County Police Athletic League.

"It was a great run," Bristow said of the old PAL Bowl, which lasted 21 years. "The things we've seen the last couple of years have made us come to this decision."

The PAL Bowl was played at the conclusion of each high school football season and

rotated between stadiums in Sarasota and Manatee counties. Proceeds from the game benefited each county's Police Athletic League.

Over the years, however, Bristow said enthusiasm dipped from the community as well as the players.

"We've been discussing this for a few years," he said. "This isn't something that just came up."

Most of the area's top-level players chose not to participate, either because they had been selected for national all-star games or had already given verbal college commitments and didn't want to risk injury.

Manatee offensive lineman Jake Stickler remembers attending PAL Bowls with his dad and hoped to one day play in the game himself.

"After the season is over, it's like, 'That's it,'" Stickler said. "But a lot guys looked at the PAL Bowl as one more chance to win if you didn't win it all in the end."

Stickler has committed to Georgia Tech. Had he been selected for the PAL Bowl, Stickler said he would have checked with the Yellowjackets before making a decision.

"I would have called my coach to see what the best options were," Stickler said.

Attendance sagged the past couple of years, Bristow said, and recent late-season playoff runs by the likes of Manatee and Palmetto made it difficult for organizers to decide on a date.

"We tried getting the game played before Christmas, but you have to wait until the season is all done," Bristow said. "We tried playing it in January a couple of times, but some of the players couldn't do it because they were committed to other sports.

"There was just no good date to play this game."

The timing is good. After last year's game ended in a tie, the series was knotted at 10-10-1.

"That was like a message from above," Bristow said.

Bristow offered his assistance if anyone else wants to try and organize the game.

"We'd be more than happy to help them out," he said.

Until then, last year's 27-27 tie at John Kiker Memorial Stadium will serve as the series' last moment.

"We had great a run," Bristow said. "Let's move on to something else."

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