Manatee’s high-powered offense runs through A.J. Colagiovanni. The senior quarterback has proven to be one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks to come into the area in a long time.
Last season he threw for 2,500 yards and 21 touchdowns, averaging 14.6 yards per completion while rushing for 457 yards (4.9 avg) and throwing seven interceptions.
The 6-foot, 190-pound senior is blessed with some speed, but his strength is his ability to read defenses and make adjustments before the ball is snapped. He can also be hard to bring down and can throw with accuracy on the run.
“A.J. does a nice job of distributing the ball and reading defenses. He really improved last year and became our leader,” Manatee head coach John Booth said.
Colagiovanni threw for over 150 yards in nine of 11 games, had six games of 200 plus passing yards and surpassed the 300 yard mark twice. Against Orlando Dr. Phillips in the postseason he connected on 27 of 40 passes for 302 yards and three touchdowns.
He had offseason foot surgery, but hopes to be at full strength in the regular season opener at Hewett-Trusville (Ala.). The Canes need him to be ready because after that game they face Palmetto and Venice in back-to-back games.
DB to watch
Sir Williams, Jr.
The 5-foot-11, 165-pound cornerback is blessed with an abundance of speed and athleticism. He is the Canes best cover corner, but is aggressive and strong enough to come up and play the run and enjoys contact.
He often covers the opponent’s best receiver and last season had 21 solo tackles and six pass breakups. Can also return punts and kickoffs and serve as a backup quarterback.
Josh Booker, Jr., RB
The junior running back from Sarasota is the most notable transfer in the area. He led Sarasota County in rushing last season and brings a whole new dimension to the Hurricanes potent offense with his size (5-10, 213), speed and power.
At a glance
Herald’s forecast: 9-1
The Hurricanes are a lot stronger across the board this year and the addition of running back Josh Booker improves a potent offense. Quarterback A.J. Colagiovanni is the catalyst and he has the area's highest touted receiver, Tarique Milton. The Canes are looking to be more physical upfront on defense after getting eliminated in the postseason the past two years by power running teams. The front seven needs to be rebuilt with new personnel, but the secondary looks solid with Sir Williams and Jacob Main.
Deep at: linebackers, receivers.
Thin at: defensive line
Head coach: John Booth
Career: Third year at Manatee, 21-5 (37-39 overall)
at Hoover L, 42-21
at Palmetto W, 36-35
Lincoln L, 24-21
at Alonso W, 38-0
at Steinbrenner W, 52-17
Palm Harbor W, 43-3
at Riverview (Sara.) W, 56-14
Riverview W, 37-7
Newsome W, 56-13
Southeast W, 47-0
CLASS 8A-REGION 2
Oak Ridge W, 32-14
at Dr. Phillips L, 40-21
(Ala.), 8 p.m.
at Palm Harbor*
Games start at 7:30 p.m.
* — Class 8A-6 game