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Have ticket, will travel to states

BRADENTON — All Tuesday morning they sidled up to Manatee High School’s ticket window and paid their ticket money.

Students. Manatee County sheriff’s detectives. Homemakers. Politicians.

You name it.

“We’re all going,” said MHS senior Conor Brickse.

Going to Orlando, that is, for Friday night’s Class 5A state championship game between the Hurricanes and Tampa Plant at the Citrus Bowl.

Although the school’s 1,000-ticket allotment sold out by mid-day, plenty of game tickets will be on sale at the Citrus Bowl. The Web site is another option.

Brickse and fellow seniors Mike Stoddard, Kevin Tomlinson and Patrick Shields didn’t want to wait.

“We’re ready to go get ‘krunk,’ ” said Brickse, who bought four tickets at $10 a pop. “We were going nuts last Friday night, and we’ll do the same thing this Friday night.”

Ah, yes. Last Friday night’s stunning 28-20 semifinal victory over No. 1-ranked St. Thomas Aquinas has mobilized many to make the trip to Orlando.

Sheriff’s detectives Robby Stevenson and Rich Cunningham will be among them.

Stevenson, Hurricanes football buffs will recall, was the punter and kicker for the 1992 state champions.

“It was good to see the fans, the magic back, Coach (Joe) Kinnan on the field last Friday night. Reminds you of old times,” Stevenson said. “You don’t get to go to a state championship game very often, so you have to take advantage. You’ve got to be there.”

Gene Gallo knows what he meant.

The longtime Bradenton city councilman, former football booster club president and MHS alum bought seven tickets Tuesday.

“I remember chasing the ’Canes all over the state during the playoffs, and those are some great memories,” Gallo said. “Manatee’s going to win this time, too. No question in mind.”

Some ticket buyers figure to have their voices back by then.

Take it from Sugar ’Cane Heather Ribley.

“A lot of Sugar ’Canes still don’t have their voices from screaming and yelling last Friday night,” the junior said. “But we’re all fired up.”

So is Fred Jones, a dad who bought three tickets for his family.

“My voice was scratchy for a couple of days, but I’m so happy for those kids,” the state probation officer said. “They’ve worked so hard to get here, and we’re going to be there to support them.”