In its long storied history, Manatee High School has played a lot of football games that will live in infamy.
Perhaps none will cement itself in the memories of its fans quite like the 78-56 loss to Hewitt-Trussville (Ala.) Friday night on the road.
It was the most points Manatee has given up in a game in the history of their program, which goes back to 1914, and the most the Hurricanes scored in a loss.
“We didn’t play with a lot of passion. We didn’t tackle well enough and ran ourselves out of position,” Manatee head coach John Booth said. “I don’t think it was a scheme issue. We had missed assignments not being where we needed to be, secondary getting caught looking in the backfield on play-action and missed tackles.”
Manatee’s single-game record for points scored came in 1923 when the Canes defeated Largo 96-0. The most points allowed had been a 69-0 loss to St. Petersburg in 1926, which is the most lopsided defeat in program history.
The 78 points allowed was more than Manatee allowed for an entire season five times.
The question everyone will ask is whether this game was an anomaly. Or was it a case of bad defense or electrifying offense. The teams combined for nine rushes of 20 yards or more, and Hewitt-Trussville rolled up 634 yards of offense while Manatee had 600.
“They were in a empty spread offense, which puts a lot of responsibility on our secondary to play man coverage,” Booth said. “It can leave you open to runs or you can play zone coverage to help with run support, but it leaves holes to throw to, which they did. So in empty you have to get pressure, and we didn’t get enough.”
For the coaches and players, the biggest question is how do they feel about their team after a game like this?
“It’s disappointing (to score 54 points and lose). We have to be able to put teams away that point.” Booth said. “Defensively, there are not a lot of positives to find, but we can definitely use this as a learning experience and turn it into a positive for us. We had great offensive production. We have to attack this week better than ever. Much better preparation and execution in practice and transition it to Friday.”
For Manatee, quarterback A.J. Colagiovanni completed 26 of 43 passes for 360 yards and five touchdowns, and he ran 11 times for 22 yards and a touchdown. Tarique Milton caught 10 passes for 162 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 128 yards and one touchdown on 10 carries.
Josh Booker had 10 carries for 114 yards and a touchdown before he got hurt midway through the second quarter on a horse collar tackle and had to leave the game. He has a possible neck injury and his status is uncertain. Linebacker Brandon Doss has a possible concussion.
If there can be a turning point in such a game, it came with Hewitt-Trussville leading 27-26 in the second quarter. The Huskies scored on a 42-yard touchdown pass and added a pick six for a 40-27 lead that Manatee could not overcome.
Manatee is now 0-2 in trips to Alabama and have allowed 120 points combined in losses to Hewitt and Hoover last year. Booth said the carryover from his team’s big win against Armwood the previous week and the long trip might have played a role in his team’s lack of intensity, but he doesn’t want to blame it on intangibles.
“Those are excuses. We have to be ready to play each week regardless of outside circumstances,” Booth said.
Manatee plays host to crosstown rival Palmetto this Friday night. That was a wild game last year that was filled with errors, and the Canes escaped with a 36-35 victory.