Prep Rally | A look back at what thrilled us in 2013

December 13, 2013 

OK, let's try this again -- albeit a bit earlier than in the past.

Let's look back on the year in prep sports. Surely we'll find something that moved us and thrilled us, that excited us and stunned us.

Right?

Nope. Wrong again.

Again, nothing happened. Unless you count…

Lakewood Ranch boys golf team and its dynasty on the links; Bayshore's softball team coming from nowhere and, thanks to a lineup full of heavy-hitting youngsters, coming within a game of the Class 5A state final four; Cord Sandberg hearing his name called during Day 2 of the MLB amateur draft before returning to Bradenton to make a game-saving catch for the Gulf Coast League Phillies at Pirate City; Manatee running its regular-season football winning streak to 27; more soccer mastery from Palmetto's boys and Lakewood Ranch's girls; Saint Stephen's Marc Jones collecting his 300th victory as the Falcons' boys soccer coach; the Hurricanes breaking from the shadows of the past to win a district volleyball championship; another sensational swim season courtesy of Lakewood Ranch and Saint Stephen's Ellie Berdusco; Kristin Zarrella, one of the greatest distance runners this area has seen, winning a state title during her final race as a Lakewood Ranch Mustang; Palmetto and Manatee engaging in a memorable bout to decide the county's wrestling champion; another postseason appearance from Palmetto's football team; Bayshore's volleyball team tasting regional action for the first time in 27 years; Gage Takacs, less than six months after having both knees surgically repaired, bringing a state weightlifting title back to Southeast; Braden River, Manatee, Palmetto and Southeast playing volleyball and raising money for breast cancer research; Paul Maech

tle going out a winner in his final game as Southeast's football coach; another busy National Signing Day; Manatee winning another county volleyball title and Braden River reaching the finals for the first time in program history; the Hurricanes erasing a three-touchdown deficit against Fort Lauederdale University while a capacity crowd at Hawkins Stadium cheered them on; Palmetto erasing a 31-0 deficit against Bayshore; Curt Bradley and the Pirates instilling pride -- and turning in a winning season -- back into Braden River's football program; one last glimpse of Braden River strikeout machine, Courtney Mirabella; Bradenton native J.R. Murphy, forever known as the last player to ever catch the great Mariano Rivera in a game; a Class 2A state championship for Manatee's cheerleading team.

Like I said, nothing.

Look at the bright side: 2014 is on its way.

John Lembo, prep sports writer, can be reached at 745-7057. Follow him on Twitter @JohnLembo1878.

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