The Pop Warner Little Scholars football season is officially over in Manatee County after the two remaining Manatee Mustangs teams bowed out of the Southeast Region playoffs during the second round Saturday at Lakewood Ranch Park.
The Mustangs’ junior pee wee and junior varsity teams were the last two teams from the county remaining after cruising to FYD/Tampa Bay Pop Warner championships and then surviving the first weekend of the region playoffs. They had the benefit of playing home games midway through February, but the good fortune wasn’t enough. Manatee’s junior pee wee team fell to the Palm Beach Gardens Gators and its junior varsity team lost to the Riviera Beach Chargers.
The Mustangs’ junior pee wee team kicked off the day and held a tie with the Gators as late as the end of the first quarter. By halftime, though, Manatee fell behind for good and Palm Beach Gardens was able to hold on for a 24-12 win.
Later during the day, the Mustangs’ junior varsity team was also able to keep close with the Chargers during the first half — entering the break in a one-point hole — only to watch Riviera Beach pull away during the second half for a 40-12 win.
Sarasota Scullers take gold at Head of the South
The Sarasota Scullers fall rowing schedule concluded Saturday with a trip to Augusta, Ga., and a haul of seven medals coming back to Osprey.
The Scullers, who race out of Blackburn Point Park and bring in rowers from across the 941 area code, were led by their champion mixed 4x team, which won the club’s only championship at Augusta Rowing Club’s Head of the South regatta.
The mixed 4x — which consists of Jess Cochran, Harrison Pere, Jordan Ponson and Delaney Eberle — raced down the course in 17:54.50, beating the next closest boat, also from Sarasota, by nearly three minutes.
“Racing was cold,” said Cochran, who is a junior at the Pine View School in Osprey, “but the course was nice.”
The Scullers’ second mixed 4x boat was one of six second-place finishes for the club. Sarasota was also the runner up in the men’s lightweight 4+, the women’s 4x, the men’s 2x, the women’s 2x and the women’s lightweight 4+. Scullers coach Laura Brown also won a Head of the South title, finishing first in the women’s championship single division.
Anna Maria tennis pro wins Clearwater tournament
EJ Sanford is the new tennis pro at The Center of Anna Maria Island and has his first United States Tennis Association (USTA) championship since taking on his new role. Sanford breezed through four rounds at the 24th annual Frenchy’s Gumbo Classic in Clearwater, dropping only one set in the final round on his way to the title.
Sanford opened the tournament with a 6-0, 6-0 sweep in the Round of 16 and then logged a 6-1, 6-2 win in the quarterfinals. Even in the semifinals, Sanford rolled to a 6-1, 6-2 win and a spot in the championship.
Sanford toppled Robert Gloeckner, 2-1 (6-3, 3-6, 6-1), at the McMullen Tennis Complex for his first USTA tournament win since taking his job in Anna Maria.
“I’m sure I’m going to be playing some tournaments here frequently,” Sanford said, “and hopefully getting a couple wins.”