1. MANATEE (6-0) 50 points — Canes defense can be excused for giving up 300-plus rushing yards last week in what was obviously a trap game. Expect a rebound against Venice on Friday in a matchup that will likely decide the district title. Cord Sandberg was picked off for the first time, but he’s still Joe Kinnan’s favorite security blanket.
2. PALMETTO (6-0), 40 — Tigers need to get their passports in order as they head to Wauchula to face Hardee in battle between two of the three teams that are unbeaten in 5A-10 play. The Wildcats lost 16-13 on the road to Palmetto in ’11. They might be harboring revenge, but they are nowhere near as good as last year.
3. SOUTHEAST (5-2), 30 — Slow starts have become common for Southeast, which basically played only half a game last week and still won, creating a situation that could be good or bad. This Friday in a 5A-10 battle against Bayshore, there is no room for error. Getting quarterback Myles Braxton-Johnson back from a concussion is a big plus.
4. LAKEWOOD RANCH (4-2), 20 – After riding a roller coaster for nearly two months, Lakewood Ranch fans got a chance to rejuvenate their jangled nerves during the off week. A Mustangs win over Dixie Hollins on Friday would set up a showdown with Largo that will likely decide the 6A-7 title. But you never know what kind of mayhem these kids are going to create.
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5. BAYSHORE (2-5), 6 — The Bruins’ two victories have come against two winless teams, but the 35-0 triumph over Braden River last week was enough to sway one person to move his vote from Cardinal Mooney. The players can show their appreciation by handing Southeast its first 5A-10 loss this Friday, but don’t bet your lunch money on that.
Also receiving points: Cardinal Mooney 4.
Voting: 10 points for first, 8 for second, 6 for third, 4 for fourth and 2 for fifth.
Voters: Alan Dell, John Lembo, Jason Dill, Timothy R. Wolfrum, Vin Mannix.