1. MANATEE (3-0) 50 points — It’s hard to believe the Canes need a bye week to get ready for Southeast, so maybe it was just as a coincidence that they were off last Friday — or was it? A loss to their archrival would kill their national title hopes and take the luster off any state title Manatee wins this year.
2. PALMETTO (4-0) 40 — Tiger fans enjoy talking about their offense, sort of like bragging about the shiny sports car you have in your garage that you can use when you are in the mood. But it was some old-fashioned defense that kept Palmetto unbeaten last week. They need to heed coach Dave Marino’s warning that you can’t turn on the offense anytime you feel like it.
3. SOUTHEAST (3-1) 30 — With five straight losses to Manatee, the Noles need a victory to put the word rivalry back into this series. That means their offensive line will have to give quarterback Myles Braxton-Johnson time to develop a passing game or running back Courtney Allen won’t have room to show his Houdini skills.
4. LAKEWOOD RANCH (3-1) 20 — The Whiz Kids from East Manatee continue to take their fans on a roller-coaster ride. After an overtime victory two weeks ago, they sloughed their way to a 22-21 victory in a steady downpour as Chris Pearcey was initiated into Ranch’s workhorse fraternity with a career-high 29 carries.
5. CARDINAL MOONEY (3-1) 8 — Quarterback Reese Vita made up for the loss of his two top running backs by throwing for 253 yards but couldn’t do anything about a Cougars defense that gave up 369 yards rushing in a defeat to Lemon Bay.
Also receiving points: Bayshore 2.
Voters: Alan Dell, Jason Dill, John Lembo, Vin Mannix, Tim Wolfrum
10 points awarded for first, 8 for second, 6 for third, two for fourth.