News Columns & Blogs

Canes, family, fans celebrate state title at Lee Roy Selmon’s

BRADENTON -- Outside Lee Roy Selmon’s Tuesday night, Manatee Hurricanes state championship T-shirts flew off the vendor’s table by the front door.

“We’re running low, but we’ll make more,” said Gene Brown, president of the Manatee Football Boosters.

Inside the restaurant on Cortez, Joe Kinnan relived the big game for his radio audience on WLSS 930-AM’s Hurricane Hotline and a full house at Selmon’s relived it with him.

“It’s a really great feeling,” said Manatee’s head football coach.

The buzz was still strong, indeed, four days after the Hurricanes’ resounding 40-0 victory in Friday night’s Class 7A state final in Orlando against Jacksonville First Coast.

While game highlights flashed across flat screens around the restaurant, coaches and players and their families reveled in its aftermath.

“I get up in the morning and think, ‘We just won a state championship,’ ” said sophomore guard Dylan Beauchamp at a table full of teammates.

“It still hasn’t sunk in,” said sophomore center Austin Reeves.

“40-0? Crazy,” said junior guard Robbie Morgan.

Seated at another table, Steve Peebles knew exactly what his young proteges meant.

The longtime assistant offensive line coach helped win Manatee’s first state championship as a player.

The date was Dec. 16, 1983.

Exactly 28 years later, Peebles helped coach the Hurricanes to their fifth state championship.

“I told them, once you’re a state champion, you’re always a state champion,” he said. “No one can ever take it away from you no matter what happens the rest of your life. As a player I cherished that.”

Hurricane family members and fans cherished Manatee’s fifth title, too.

Many of them gladly ponied up $10 apiece for white or blue T-shirts proclaiming the Hurricanes’ defining accomplishment.

One was fan Ron Doheny who is sending a T-shirt to his daughter in Minneapolis, Minn.

“This is wonderful,” he said, looking at his prized purchase.

Rick Burns bought two T-shirts, one in each color.

“It’s like a piece of that state championship,” he said. “I’m going to wear one to work in the morning.”

Lachon Wilkins, Robbie Morgan’s mom, bought a T-shirt, too, but is saving it to wear this weekend.

Proudly, too.

“I’m going to style for my family on Christmas Day,” she said, smiling.

About 200 shirts were sold at Shake Pit last Saturday and nearly that many Tuesday night.

There will be more where that came from for the planned team parade and championship banquet next month.

“With everybody on Christmas break, it’s hard to get things tied up, but once school’s back in session, we’ll get it coordinated,” Brown said. “We’ll try to schedule the parade sometime early in January, then have the banquet toward the end of January or in early February.”

Kinnan is in no rush and will savor his fifth state championship.

“I think people sort of took it for granted with us in the ’80s and ’90s,” the coach said.

“They didn’t realize how really and truly hard it is at first to get there and second to win it.”

Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7055.