ORLANDO — Blake Keller had just finished the postgame handshake when he broke into a smile that was bigger than the Florida Citrus Bowl.
“This is all you dream about when you’re a kid,” said Manatee’s junior defensive end. “And the dreams finally came true.”
Did they ever.
The Hurricanes roared to their first state championship since 1992 and fifth overall with a dominating 40-0 win against Jacksonville First Coast in Friday’s Class 7A state final.
Manatee finished the season 13-2 — 13-0 against Florida schools — losing only to national powers Our Lady of Good Counsel (Md.) and Don Bosco Prep (N.J.).
“We think we’re the best football team in the state of Florida. Period,” said Canes coach Joe Kinnan, who has guided Manatee to all five of its state titles.
Few in attendance could argue Friday, when Manatee totaled 429 yards of offense and gave up just 108.
Keller had one of Manatee’s five sacks — Derrick Calloway had three — and quarterback Cord Sandberg threw for 180 yards, rushed for 78 and had a hand in two touchdowns.
It was also the Manatee’s first shutout in a state final.
“That’s unheard of,” Kinnan said.
A time line of key events tonight from the Class 7A state final game at the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando between the Manatee Hurricanes and Jacksonville First Coast Buccaneers.
9:39 p.m.: Time expires. Canes win fifth state title.
9:34 p.m.: Canes put cherry on top with short rushing score. 40-0.
9:32 p.m.: Coach Kinnan gets a water cooler bath. No smiles yet, though.
9:31 p.m.: Canes running out the clock as a fifth state title nears. Little more than three minutes to play.
9:23 p.m.: Tankersley FG makes it 33-0.
9:04 p.m.: Third quarter ends. Manatee still up 30-0.
8:54 p.m.: Leon Allen runs for 16 yards on first down.
8:53 p.m.: First Coast punts again. Manatee starts drive at own 30.
8:47 p.m.: Lauro powers in from 10 yards out. Manatee 30, First Coast 0. 6:21 left in 3rd.
8:42 p.m.: First Coast punts out of end zone. Good return. Manatee drive starts at First Coast 23.
8:35 p.m.: Manatee's Goff blocks punt, Keller recovers in end zone for 6 points. 2-pt conversion falls short. Up 23-0. 8:34 p.m.: First Coast fails on 3rd-and-30 from own 12. Punt to come.
8:29 p.m.: Second half starts. First Coast gets the ball.
8:06 p.m.: Tankersley hits on 25-yard attempt. Canes up 17-0 at halftime.
8:05 p.m.: Tankersley wide right on 33-yard FG attempt as time expires on first half, but a roughing the snapper penalty called on First Coast.
7:57 p.m. Leon Allen gains 38 yards for Manatee on a shovel pass down to First Coast 35.
7:50 p.m.: Manatee gets the ball right back on Willie Smith interception. At own 4.
7:49 p.m.: Tankersley's 49-yard FG attempt blocked.
7:43 p.m.: Sandberg to Lauro for big gain again down to First Coast 36.
7:40 p.m.: Jalen Holmes interception in the endzone gives Manatee the ball at the 20.
7:37 p.m.: 35-yard pass play puts First Coast at Manatee's 30. 7:34 p.m.: A 44-yard TD pass from Cord Sandberg to Anthony Lauro puts Manatee up 14-0 early in the second quarter.
7:32 p.m.: End of first quarter. Canes up 7-0.
7:29 p.m.: Canes first down at the First Coast 41.
7:22 p.m.: Canes defense stands. First Coast punts. Manatee starts second drive at own 25.
7:14 p.m.: A 3:45 drive ends with a 13-yard TD run by QB Cord Sandberg. 7-0 Canes. 8:15 left in first.
7:08 p.m.: First Coast kicks off to Manatee. 15-yard personal foul penalty on First Coast. Canes start at own 42.
6:53 p.m.: Manatee fans stand and cheer as Canes come out the tunnel. Here come the starters.
6:49 p.m.: Introductions are beginning. Manatee is the away team and will be introduced first.
6:48 p.m.: Cheerleaders are lining up outside each locker room. "We Will Rock You" is blaring over the PA. Kickoff in less than 20 minutes.
6:30 p.m.: Canes fans cheering as Manatee heads back to locker room.
6:12 p.m.: Manatee, in white jerseys and red pants, hits the field at the Citrus Bowl to the screams of a red-clad throng of fans.