With all six Manatee County public schools playing each other this is a special week for the players. There will be bigger games with district titles and playoff implications on the line, but establishing neighborhood supremacy is something these players can cherish for a lifetime.
Only a limited number will go on to play college, fewer will play at the FBS level and less than a handful will make it to the professional ranks.
This is a difficult game to continue. We have seen that with Mike Jenkins and Fabian Washington, two of the best defensive backs Manatee County has ever produced.
Now 31 years old, Jenkins was in the fight for one of the starting cornerback jobs for Arizona until he tore his ACL last week. He is out for the season. It was the second major injury in three years for the Southeast graduate and former University of South Florida All-American, who was a first-round draft choice of Dallas in 2008.
Two years ago, he injured his shoulder in his first game with the Tampa Bay Bucs and missed the rest of the season. He never seemed right in 2015 and wound up with Arizona after the Bucs didn’t want to sign him.
Washington, a first-round pick by Oakland in 2005, had a to end his career prematurely at age 28 because of a torn hamstring in 2010. His list of injuries included a torn ACL and bulging disc in his neck that required surgery.
You never know what this game of football will do to you, and if you don’t love the game, it’s best not to get involved, especially with what we have learned about concussions, particularly among players before they reach college age.
So, weather permitting, when Manatee vs. Palmetto and Southeast vs. Braden River and Lakewood Ranch vs. Bayshore take the field — hopefully Friday night — fans should appreciate the effort of the players.
This is not a game for the faint-hearted, and the best players often ignore their pain to the point where it can even be detrimental to their health.
Lakewood Ranch head football coach Mic Koczersut has said some kids first play the game for the recognition, but that doesn’t last long. Football comes with a lot of physical pain along with all the excitement.
According to a “Frontline” investigative story several years ago, high school football players are nearly twice as likely to sustain a concussion as college players.
Multiple studies have reported that 7 out of 10 severe injuries in high school football are the result of player-to-player contact, and the most commonly injured parts of the body were the knee and shoulder.
Interestingly, 3 of 10 severe injuries occurred to the player being tackled while 1 out of 5 were to the player making the tackle, according to a the American Journal of Sports Medicine.
A recent series by the Bradenton Herald told of the athletic achievements of many of the students who played football and other sports at the Lincoln High during the segregation days.
But what it didn’t mention was the academic success of a school and outstanding scholars it produced despite the many odds it faced.
Many graduates went on to get their Doctorates, such as Larry Shannon, PhD Iowa State, 1970, Biology; Charles Bacon, PhD, Microbiology, University of Michigan 1975; Beverley Surcy Reed, EdD, Reading and Writing , Rutgers University 1986; Frederick Bacon, PhD, chemistry University of California 1975; and Joseph Reed, PhD, chemistry, Brown University.
Switching gears: Are the Tampa Bay Rays missing the boat on not trying to sign Tim Tebow.
Before you smirk consider the empty seats at Tropicana Field, the losing record and players who don’t hustle and can barely carry a .200 batting average not to mention the recent demotion of Tim Beckhem for perpetual loafing on the base paths.
A dose of Tebow would cure all of that and fill up a lot of those empty seats.