Commentary | No fairytale ending for Manatee Hurricanes this season

adell@bradenton.comNovember 23, 2013 

FORT PIERCE

It was all set up for a storybook ending, the kind you dream about as a kid when you lie in bed fantasizing you are Peyton Manning or Tom Brady or the great Walter Payton.

You can change the dream with the blink of eye.

If only life were so easy.

Unfortunately, real life dreams don't always end the way you want.

When you first put those pads on as a kid playing your first Pop Warner game you knew it, but you kind of buried the thought.

But football is awful, like life. There are going to be days when you just wish you never got of bed.

The Manatee High football team would like a do-over after its 17-15 loss to Fort Pierce Central on Friday.

It ended the Hurricanes' season and ruined their unblemished record. The pain will linger for awhile.

How this happened was on the cruel side.

The Hurricanes lost starting quarterback Josh Meyer in the first quarter, and the offense struggled.

Brodrick Yancy took over and did a yeoman's job. But he is a standout receiver, and he couldn't throw it to himself.

Yancy almost pulled a Paul Bunyan along with Nick Pennebacker, who booted a 31-yard field goal that gave Manatee a 15-14 lead with 6:32 left in the game.

The hero line was beginning to form, but Fort Pierce quarterback Sam Vaughn took the Cobras on a game-winning drive that ended on a 37-yard field goal with 1:49 left.

So instead of coming home to a triumphant celebration, Manatee will deal with the pain and soreness for awhile.

Manatee's defense tried to keep the season going, but fell short just a bit. A busted play on a 90-yard touchdown pass by Vaughn after Manatee cut its deficit to 7-6 was a backbreaker.

But the Canes answered with Yancy throwing a 63-yard pass that set up a touchdown that cut Manatee's deficit to 14-12. They went for two and didn't make it.

"This is what the game is about. This is how it mimics life. You are on top of the world one minute and you fall down; how you get back up will make a difference," Manatee defensive line coach Steve Gulash said. "It's a beginning for the young kids. It's the end for the old kids, and it happens every year. The future starts now for everybody even though some won't be with us next season, but they will be on the next level."

The Hurricanes were hoping to get a lot of pressure on Vaughn and take him out of the game, but he hung in there.

It's November and all across America football injuries are piling up. It's why coaches preach depth.

No one wants to use injuries as an excuse, but you can't help wonder if.

There are a lot of ifs in this game.

Injuries changed the Canes offense, and when that happens you hope the defense can make up the difference. The Canes tried, but give Vaughn credit. He did just enough.

Manatee defensive coordinator Jim Phelan will endure a few sleepless nights going over some of his unit's mistakes, but he says you must take the entire season into perspective.

"We were 11-1. Go around and ask anybody if they want to be 11-1," he said. "On their big touchdown, their guy just beat one of our guys. On their last drive, they got all those third down conversions. We had one ball picked off and somehow the ball wound up in the guy's lap. We got the pressure we wanted on their quarterback for most of the night."

It was one of those nights.

Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7056. Follow him on Twitter at @ADellSports.

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