High School Sports

Numbers Game | No harm, no foul; Kickoff Classics are just preseason games

BRADENTON

Friday Night Lights returned to Manatee County last week with Kickoff Classics around the area.

That means Numbers Game, the Herald's weekly rewind of the previous prep football week as well as a spin toward the upcoming slate, is back.

So fresh records, a continuing quarterback battle and squandering national title hopes are just some of the items to glance back on from the preseason games.

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For 10 of the 11 area programs, the Kickoff Classics didn't hurt any postseason chances or their regular season record. It's a clean slate until this week, when the regular season begins.

It's good news for Bayshore, Lakewood Ranch, Out-of-Door Academy and Saint Stephen's. They each were handed defeats, some by wide margins (Bayshore fell 37-0 to powerhouse Clearwater Central Catholic, while ODA faltered 30-13 to Fort Myers Southwest Florida Christian Academy) and tight affairs (Lakewood Ranch and Saint Stephen's lost by a combined nine points).

IMG Academy, which can't compete for a state title as a Florida High School Athletic Associa

tion independent, fell to two-time defending state champ American Heritage Plantation, 19-7, in the final seconds.

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Completions from Lakewood Ranch's two quarterbacks in the Mustangs' 20-14 loss at Sarasota Riverview.

Grant Weisman and Justin Curtis both struggled, leaving head coach Mick Koczersut still waiting for one of them to win the starting quarterback job.

Consequently, the Mustangs were forced to rely on the ground game between J.T. Fischer (18 attempts for 86 rushing yards and one touchdown) and Darren Lowery (eight carries for 56 rushing yards and one score).

Curtis did complete one pass early against the Rams, but it was wiped out due to a penalty.

He then went 0-for-4 on Ranch's last series with around two minutes to play that assured Riverview was getting the victory.

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Different ways Kavious Price found the end zone last Friday against Largo. The versatile Manatee senior caught a 36-yard touchdown pass from quarterback A.J. Colagiovanni, ran in a 15-yard score from the wildcat formation and galloped 90 yards on a kick return for his final score.

The Hurricanes crushed the Packers, 44-6, at Hawkins Stadium, and now head out-of-state to face Hoover, Ala., to begin the 2015 regular season this Friday.

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Games in the area for Week 1. Braden River hosts Bayshore, while Lakewood Ranch, Out-of-Door Academy and IMG Academy are also at home. The Ascenders get Miramar for a nationally televised game (ESPNU) on Sunday at 2 p.m. IMG entered the season ranked second in the USA Today Super 25 high school football rankings, and fell to No. 22 after Saturday's defeat. Due to the Ascenders having two bye weeks during the regular season, their preseason tilt with American Heritage counted toward the national rankings and the loss blew any chance at the mythical national title.

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Amount of yards Palmetto's Isyah Funk churned out on the ground in just four carries last Friday.

The Tigers blew past Sarasota Booker, 45-7, with the Funk Man punishing the Tornadoes for two touchdown runs - the last came on a 42-yard scamper.

Funk, though, isn't a running back under head coach Dave Marino, despite tallying nearly 900 rushing yards at Chattanooga Central in Tennessee last season.

A senior, Funk's relocation to Palmetto also meant a new position as Marino is utilizing his speed in the secondary.

The reason for Funk's spell in the backfield last Friday was because starter Octavious James was sidelined with an ankle injury and Herman White IV, the No. 2 back, was limited by an injury.

Jason Dill, sports reporter, can be reached at 745-7017. Follow him on Twitter @Jason__Dill. Numbers Game appears Tuesdays during prep football season.

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