The Apopka offense looked as if it just came off the factory line.
In truth, it was born more than a century ago when Princeton and Harvard were the big names in college football.
You knew there was a reason those Ivy Leaguers were smart.
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The best chance of watching the single wing Apopka uses was to check in at your nearest museum.
Manatee got a first-hand look at it Friday night in the Class 8A state semifinal and seemed stunned initially, allowing the Blue Darters to score three touchdowns and a field goal in their first five possessions en route to a 45-14 victory.
Manatee defensive coordinator Jim Phelan said it wasn't the scheme that got his kids. Defensive end Kwanzi Jackson echoed similar thoughts.
So what happened?
Answer: Things happen, which makes the Canes' run to the final four impressive. They had to deal with a controversial coaching change that led to the departure of a living legend in Joe Kinnan, and they returned only one player on offense.
This was expected to be a high-scoring game. Apopka came in averaging 42 points per game and in its region final scored 64. But they gave up 48 to Jacksonville First Coast, and there was hope Manatee could match the Blue Darters in lighting up the scoreboard.
"We played obedient football. When you don't make mistakes and make them work for everything you usually do well," Apopka head coach Rick Darlington said. "We talked about how we've got to tackle number 22 (Johnnie Lang), rush the passer and cover the receivers. There is nothing secret about it. We were doing the same things we did all year. We are just doing it better. We tackled and covered, except for those two touchdowns we gave them."
Lang rushed for 28 yards on 14 carries and when he can't g,o things don't go well for Manatee. It meant the defense had to clamp down on one of the most prolific offenses in the state that rushed for 439 yards in their region final last week.
"These guys knocked us off the ball. Our defense is predicated on re-establishing the line of scrimmage, and if they knock us off the ball we are in trouble," Phelan said. "We are just as physical, but we weren't tonight. I didn't do a very good job of coaching, and we didn't do a good job of playing. We only got fooled once. We just didn't get it done. It's on me."
Jackson said the Canes weren't ready at the start of the game and then got overpowered by the Blue Darters, who run most of their offense behind 270-pound Martez Ivey, the top-ranked tackle in the country by several national publications.
"They just ran us over. They had way more strength than us," Jackson said. "We had a good game plan and lined up right, but they were just stronger than us. They were just a better team than us on this day."
The Canes faced a similar opponent last week in Orlando Dr. Phillips and eked out a 24-21 victory. Why they couldn't get it done this time will remain a mystery to some, but not Jackson.
"This team ... had the will to win. They really wanted to win," Jackson said. "We had the will to win too, but we got it too late. We were supposed to have it the first half, but didn't."
In this Class 8A tournament, only one team gets to end the season with a victory, but getting to the final four is a tribute to these Canes though it might take a while for them enjoy the feeling of that accomplishment.
"We can't really hold our heads down," Jackson said. "Everybody doubted us and we got to the fourth round when nobody thought we could do. I am not satisfied, but we did good."
Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7056. Follow him on Twitter @ADellSports.