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Manatee Hurricanes climb in final national high school football rankings

BRADENTON -- The Manatee Hurricanes didn’t just win a state championship Friday.

They dominated Jacksonville First Coast, rolling to a 40-0 win to clinch the Class 7A title, and in doing so, the team skyrocketed in three different national polls.

Manatee (13-2) finished ranked in the top 12 in the RivalsHigh100, the MaxPreps Xcellent Top 25 and ESPNRise’s PowerAde Fab 50 -- the highest the Hurricanes have climbed nationally since coach Joe Kinnan returned to the sideline in 2005.

The Canes end the year ranked 11th in Rivals’ poll, the highest of any two-loss team in the country. They were ranked 31st heading into the state final, and finished higher than any other Florida team with the exception of No. 3 Seffner Armwood, which went 15-0 and won the Class 6A state title.

“(Manatee) had a few close calls and the team is not as talented as it has been in recent seasons,” wrote Dallas Jackson, Rivals’ senior analyst for high school sports and the author of the RivalsHigh100, “but it came together and got a state title and nearly a top-10 finish to the season.”

The Hurricanes’ two losses came against New Jersey’s Don Bosco Prep and Maryland’s Our Lady of Good Counsel. Both went undefeated, and Bosco finished the season ranked second by Rivals and Good Counsel finished sixth.

Kentucky’s Louisville Trinity finished No.1 on the RivalsHigh 100.

MaxPreps also slated Manatee at No. 11, a seven-spot improvement from last week.

“Manatee was the best two-loss team in the country,” writes Stephen Spiewak, MaxPreps’ national football editor. “It won a Class 7A state title in convincing fashion, and its only two losses came against teams ranked in the Top 10.”

Bosco was named the mythical prep national champion by MaxPreps, which ranked the Ironmen ahead of Trinity.

Good Counsel was fifth.

MaxPreps ranked Seffner Armwood third and Tampa Plant, which upset Miramar in the Class 8A final, eighth, meaning three of the top 11 teams in the Xcellent Top 25 came from the Tampa Bay area.

ESPN, which televised Manatee’s 2010 Kickoff Classic against Tampa Plant, listed Manatee 12th in its poll, bumping the Hurricanes up from No. 15.

The Canes are the only top-25 team in the ESPNRise PowerAde Fab 50 with two losses, and are the second-highest Florida team behind Armwood, which finished second in the poll behind top-ranked Bosco. Don Bosco Prep beat Manatee 22-16 earlier this season in Bradenton. The teams meet again next season in New Jersey during Week 3.

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