BRADENTON -- The playoffs are here for the Manatee High football team, and maybe the fans are little spoiled.
The homes stands at Joe Kinnan Field at Hawkins Stadium were about half filled Friday night for the Hurricanes' 34-28 victory over Vero Beach in a first-round game of the Class 8A Region quarterfinals. The weather was a little inclement and perhaps the fans were expecting a blowout by No. 1-ranked 8A Manatee and decided to stay home.
Complacency sometimes hits a fan base that is used to winning so much and winning big. It happened to Alabama this year with Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban taking away preferred seating of some student groups because he said they came too late and left too early.
There is no such talk at Manatee, and those who did attend were treated to an outstanding performance from running back Trevon Walter, who carried the ball a school record 40 times.
The fans who did attend and stay to the end breathed a sigh of relief that the Canes were able to hold onto a victory that once seemed to be in the bag.
Manatee led 34-14 in the fourth quarter, and some folks started to head for the exits. Those who stayed were treated to Walter's heroics and watched the Manatee defense hang on against Vero Beach quarterback Dalton Stokes, who threw for 271 yards and three touchdowns.
"It wasn't pretty, but it was a win, and at this time of year that's what you want," said Manatee head coach Joe Kinnan.
The 28 points were the most that Manatee has given up this season. The Hurricanes go on the road next Friday for their region semifinal matchup at Fort Pierce Central.