BRADENTON -- Manatee's offense runs through No. 22.
That's jersey number worn by junior running back Johnnie Lang, who heads into Friday's Class 8A state semifinal at Apopka with 2,088 rushing yards, making him the only Hurricane other than Shevin Wiggins in 1993 to total 2,000 in a single season.
But Manatee's offense goes through the air, too. It can spiral out of the right hand of Sloan Drummonds and into the arms of Kavious Price or Kelvin McKnight or Isiah Goldy and set up the likes of Nick Null's game-winning field goal during last week's Region 2 final at Orlando Dr. Phillips.
The passing game isn't just a way to keep defenses honest. Rather, it has developed into a bona fide weapon for the Hurricanes, who are looking for their eighth trip to a state final.
"It's a legit threat to throw," Manatee coach John Booth said. "If you want to load the box up and take Johnnie out, then Sloan can beat you with the pass. And Kelvin and K.P. have had great seasons this year."
The evolution of Manatee's passing game has been an interesting one. Drummonds transferred to Manatee from Sebastain River prior to summer workouts but left the team after the Kickoff Classic over a disagreement with the coaching staff.
When a reunion became possible, Booth turned things over to Manatee's leadership council, a group of roughly 10 players that includes McKnight, a senior wide receiver, about how to handle Drummonds' return.
"We didn't want to take his senior year away and not be able to play football," said McKnight, who has a team-best 47 catches for 756 yards. "We all came to the agreement to let him back on the team."
There were consequences. Drummonds had to sit out before making his debut Sept. 26 against Southeast, when he threw for three touchdowns and 192 yards. Last week against Orlando Dr. Phillips, Drummonds completed a season-high 13 passes and connected with McKnight on a first-quarter touchdown to help Manatee win its 15th region title.
"We just did whatever the defense gave us," said Drummonds, who has thrown for 1,108 yards and eight touchdowns while being intercepted once in 140 attempts. "If we needed to spread the defense out, we spread them out with the pass game. And once they were spread and were too worried about our pass game, we'd just run it down their throats with Johnnie. So we've got a good 1-2 punch."
The playoffs have become a microcosm of Drummonds' assessment. The quarterback threw for 205 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the first round against a Fort Pierce Central team bent on stopping the run before Lang and Octavious James teamed for nearly 400 yards of rushing and seven touchdowns in a region semifinal win over Vero Beach.
Drummonds threw 13 passes that night against the Indians, none after halftime.
"It's kind of game by game," said James Booth, John's twin and Manatee's offensive coordinator. "We first had to figure out what Sloan could do and what he's good at. ... When he knows where to go, he's got a good arm. And when he throws on time, he's very effective. The receivers were running good routes ... and now that Sloan knows where to go with the football and throws it on time, it's kind of opened it up a little bit."
The weapons are there. Aside from McKnight, who has five Division I offers, there's Price, who played quarterback in the spring game but hauled in seven catches against Phillips last week and has 28 on the season.
Then there is the offensive line, which has not only created space for Lang but has given Drummonds time to connect with his receivers.
"Everyone doubted the O line ... because it's a group of new kids," Drummonds said. "They're all young, and they've just done a terrific job. I can't tell you the last time I've been sacked."
It's been an interesting year for Drummonds, who acknowledged the past few months have taught him a lot as a player and a person.
"It was complicated stuff, and it looks a lot worse than what it is, than what actually happened. We got past all that," he said about his brief separation from the team. "I learned to be more calm, be more of a quiet player and just listen to what my coaches do. ... I guess I got my emotions a little too wrapped up, and that's what caused all the confusion."
John Booth agreed.
"I'm really proud of what he's doing and how's he handled all this. There was some adversity at the beginning of the year, and he responded well to it," he said. "I moved forward, so did he and it's kind of water under the bridge. He's had a really good, coachable attitude since being back. And it shows."
Lang is still Manatee's hammer, the guy who catches the eyes of opposing coaches when they're watching Hurricanes game film.
But don't sleep on the passing game.
"Us as a receiving corps, we know Johnnie's going to get his touches; we know we're a run-first team," McKnight said. "But when our number's called, we just have to make big plays."