BRADENTON -- The only stat Joe Kinnan concerns himself with is wins.
But in the aftermath of Manatee’s 21-0 smothering of Weston Cypress Bay on Friday, the Hurricanes head coach was impressed with the number 10, or, how many consecutive scoreless quarters his defense has strung together.
“That’s good. Playing good,” Kinnan said. “Playing real good.”
The Hurricanes (4-2) have outscored the opposition 132-6 during their current three-game winning streak and haven’t allowed a point since Southeast’s Courtney Allen scored on an 80-yard touchdown run Sept. 30.
On Friday, they blanked a Lightning team that began the week ranked eighth in the state in Class 8A. And it’s a team that has seen its share of good defenses, having been shut out this season by nationally-ranked Miramar and Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas.
“St. Thomas’ front seven is pretty damn good, but I think Manatee’s right there,” said Cypress Bay coach Mark Guandolo. “That’s a (heck) of a defense. We couldn’t block them. They’re physical, they’re quick.”
Manatee forced three turnovers, including a second-quarter interception by Willie Smith (his second in as many weeks) and a fumble recovery by Hershel Caywood late in the fourth quarter when the Lightning (3-3) had the ball on Manatee’s 27.
Kelvin Carter provided the exclamation point in the fourth quarter when he sacked Cypress Bay quarterback Jaranta Lewis in the end zone for a safety. It was the second safety in as many weeks for Manatee’s defense, which has scored more points (four) than it has given up during the past two games.
Cypress Bay totaled 126 yards of offense.
“They’re a Wing-T power football team. They’ve got some big linemen; they’re very good players; they’ve got backs that run hard,” said Kinnan, whose Canes have outscored their four Florida opponents 180-12. “But we’re pretty good up front, and we’re pretty good at linebacker and defensive back.”
Manatee’s offense broke through late in the first quarter, when Cord Sandberg hit a wide open Marquel Hines for a 33-yard touchdown to give the Canes a 6-0 lead with 1:21 left in the period.
Sandberg threw for 204 yards and scored on a 2-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, while Leon Allen accounted for Manatee’s other score with a 5-yard run in the second.
The surging Canes now switch their focus to rival Venice, which comes to Hawkins Stadium next week in a game that could decide the Class 7A-District 10 championship.
Manatee beat the Indians last season -- and again in the Region 3 playoffs -- to win their first district title since 2006.
“We’re playing good, and we’ve got them at home, so that’s good,” Kinnan said. “Should be a packed house.”