BRADENTON -- Manatee's football team will once again open the regular season out of state.
Coach Joe Kinnan said the Hurricanes are heading to Georgia on Friday, Aug. 29, to play Ware County at Martin Stadium in Valdosta, which seats more than 12,000.
The Hurricanes are scheduled to play at 5 p.m. Tampa Plant will meet Georgia's Lowndes High in the second game of the doubleheader.
The trip is pending approval by the School District of Manatee County.
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"Last year, they were a very good team," Kinnan said of the Ware County Gators, who went 11-2 and reached the quarterfinals of Georgia's Class 5A playoffs. "It's an opportunity for our kids to be exposed to different teams, and that's the nature of sports that has happened over the last decade. And it's not just football."
Unlike recent trips to Pittsburgh, Maryland and the Virginia/D.C. area, this one won't require plane fare or lodging. The team will take a bus up that morning and return after the game that night.
According to Mapquest, Lowndes High is about 278 miles away from Manatee.
"It won't be a real long trip," Kinnan said. "And it prepares us in case we have to take a long bus ride during the playoffs."
Similar to Manatee's other out-of-state trips, this one will be financed by the team and not the district. Kinnan said the team is guaranteed a payment, which he wouldn't disclose, as well as a percentage of the gate.
"It will be comparable to some of the games we've flown to, and it should be a more money because we have a lot less expenses," Kinnan said. "Most of the place where we've flown, we had to fly in the night before the game, so you had to pay for two nights of lodging, more meals, and when you travel, you have to pay for ground transportation."
Manatee returns home to hosts Sanford Seminole in Week 2 and Naples in Week 3, schools Manatee has never played while Kinnan has been the coach. They will take the place of Washington, D.C.'s Friendship Collegiate Academy and Davie University School, both of which the Canes played last season.
"It's exciting," Kinnan said, adding Manatee's bye week will come during Week 9. "We're playing three teams we've never played before, at least when I've been the coach."