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Canes are talk of town, nation

BRADENTON

The first part of the message on the Shake Pit marquee Saturday reflected owner Debbie Crowe’s way-out sense of humor:

“CANES MUFFIN ST. THOMAS 28-20”

Thomas’ English Muffins, get it?

There was no puzzlement over the second part:

“WE R GOING 2 STATES”

The Manatee Hurricanes are, indeed.

They punched their ticket to the Class 5A state championship game in Orlando with that stirring triumph Friday night over national power Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas in their state semifinal at Hawkins Stadium.

A day later, coach Joe Kinnan’s Hurricanes were the talk of the town.

“The place has been buzzing about it since we opened at 6 a.m.,” Peach’s owner Mike Luciano said at his restaurant, 3201 Manatee Ave. “That’s probably the finest football game I’ve seen in the 20 years I’ve lived here.”

“Just fantastic,” said patron Jack Cantwell. “It brought back memories of Manatee’s championship teams of the 1980s. I’m so proud of these kids.”

The buzz was the same a few doors down at Scissors salon.

“Nobody’s talking about Tiger Woods for once. Everybody’s talking about the game. How nice is that?” owner Jane Simpson said.

“It’s awesome,” said Lindsay Smith, a Manatee grad and Palma Sola Elementary School teacher.

The Hurricanes victory made national news, too.

When Matt Barnebey left work at Shake Pit late Friday night and turned on the TV at home, lo’ and behold?

“There’s (ESPN broadcaster) Scott Van Pelt talking about Manatee beating St. Thomas, ESPN’s No. 1-ranked team. That’s great stuff,” the Manatee grad said.

MaxPreps.com’s Dave Krider called it the biggest upset of the 2009 football season.

Gene Brown still hadn’t come down from Friday night’s heights.

He’s the Hurricanes booster club president and son Ryan is the starting center.

“The phone has been ringing all day,” Brown said. “Everybody’s ready to go to Orlando and play today.”

Manatee’s opponent is Tampa Plant, which shocked six-time state champion Lakeland, 20-0, in Friday night’s other semifinal.

According to Brown, tickets to the state championship game, 7 p.m. Friday at the Citrus Bowl, are $10 and will go on sale 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday at the high school ticket office.

Beginning Monday, fans can sign up at the school for charter buses to the game.

Call 714-7300 for details.

Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 745-7055, or write him at Bradenton Herald, P.O. Box 921, Bradenton, FL 34206 or e-mail him at vmannix@bradenton.com. Include a number for verification.

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