As a personal trainer, Charles Chestnut doesn't take much stock in where you got your diploma.
"Any kid who wants to try can get to college," he said of his clients, "or anyone who wants to get in shape."
But when his day job ends and he makes his way back to John Kiker Memorial Stadium, where Chestnut works with the Seminoles receivers as a volunteer assistant coach, the true colors come out.
Namely, Southeast colors, the ones Chestnut wore before his playing days at Western Illinois. And the ones he was wearing Aug. 25, 2006, the last time the Seminoles beat Manatee.
The final score was 28-21 in a game delayed more than an hour by ligtning and rain. Chestnut pulled in his first varsity touchdown that night when he was on the receiving end of a 50-yard pass from quarterback Chris Hart, who is now one of Chestnut's many clients.
"That was a great night," Chestnut said.
It was Southeast's last great moment in its long-standing rivalry with Manatee. The series turns 33 tonight, though it's the Hurricanes who have seized control, winning the last seven meetings to take an 18-14 lead.
While Chestnut's tutelage is designed to make the Noles' receivers better between the lines, his presence harkens back to a time when the county's richest rivalry was tighter and more hotly contested than it is now. It's a role he takes seriously.
He has spoken to the players about shifting the bragging rights back to the east side of Manatee County. He also brought in Hart, who talked about his 93-yard toss to Faron Hornes that won the 2005 game -- Southeast's coaches told Hart to kill the clock and play for overtime -- and how he and the rest of the team outlasted the storm, and a tenacious Hurricanes defense that led Manatee to a second trip to the Class 5A final four, to win the '06 game.
"Myself, the head coach, we remind the guys every day this is big," Chestnut said. "And I think they realize how big it is, just from all the hype around campus."
Manatee is big enough to play in Class 8A, the top classification in the state, while Southeast is a Class 5A school that has seen its enrollment sliced, thanks in part to new schools built in the eastern part of the county.
It's an excuse Chestnut refuses to embrace.
"Regardless of school size," he said, "it's still 11 guys on the field for each team."
Chestnut remembers how it felt when victory belonged to the 11 guys on Southeast's side of the field. He wants to see it happen again.
As personal trainer, Chestnut is ready to work with anyone.
But as Seminole, he is ready for Southeast to get its swagger back. He is ready to see the Noles beat Manatee.
"It's been way too long," he said, "before anyone at Southeast has been able to have those bragging rights."
John Lembo, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7057. Follow him on Twitter @JohnLembo1878.