Big-time running games, opportunistic defenses and district play is finally upon us.
Numbers Game looks back at the wet week that was and looks forward to Week 5, the season's midway point highlighted by the county's richest rivalry.
Area team that threw for more than 100 yards last week and that's IMG Academy, which got 130 yards through the air and a pair of touchdowns from Deondre Francois during a 43-7 win at Montverde Academy. Blame it on the rain, which saturated the area during Week 4 and turned the ball into what Manatee coach John Booth called "a wet bar of soap."
Staying grounded didn't necessarily hurt -- Bradenton Christian, Braden River, Cardinal Mooney, Manatee, Palmetto and Southeast all scored wins thanks to steady rushing attacks and stingy defense. The Tigers, whose first win of the season (21-0 over North Port) has them sharing the top spot in Class 7A-District 10 with the Pirates, saw its defensive unit score a pair of touchdowns, while the Hurricanes, Cougars and Seminoles didn't allow a touchdown.
Consecutive wins for Manatee in its rivalry with Southeast heading into the team's 33rd meeting Friday night at John Kiker Memorial Stadium.
The Hurricanes lead the series 18-14, though the presence of new coaches -- Southeast's John Warren and Manatee's John Booth -- adds some intrigue into a rivalry that has swung decidedly toward Manatee. Southeast's last win was Aug. 25, 2006, in a game that was delayed more than an hour by rain and lightning. The Noles got off to a 21-6 lead and held on for a 28-21 win.
Times Braden River has been 4-0 prior to last week's win over rival Lakewood Ranch. The Pirates have accomplished quite a bit since playing a full-fledged schedule in 2007, reaching the second round of the playoffs in 2008 and '09 and making the postseason with three different head coaches. This year's team, though, has a chance to set a new standard, and will look to extend the best start in program history Friday at Booker. Another 4-0 starter: Cardinal Mooney. The last time the Cougars began 4-0 was 2006, when the Cougars reached the Class 2B state final four. Mooney heads to Tampa Catholic on Friday.
Seasons since Saint Stephen's has started a season 3-1 after the Falcons, despite missing six starters, went to Citrus Park Christian on Friday and scored an 18-7 win. Saint Stephen's continues its Sunshine State Athletic Conference schedule at home Friday against Windermere Prep.
Games Manatee running back Johnnie Lang has rushed for at least 190 yards. The junior went for 191 Week 2 against Naples and chalked up 192 Friday against Sarasota, and he has scored eight touchdowns and thrown for one. Working with a new offensive line and quarterback, Manatee came into this season expecting plenty from Lang, who performed well as a back-up the past two seasons. Thus far, he has delivered.
John Lembo, Herald staff writer, can be reached at 941-745-7057. Follow him on Twitter @JohnLembo1878. Numbers Game appears Tuesday during the prep football season.