Manatee High School head football coach John Booth said moving his team’s game up one day to avoid the worst of Hurricane Matthew shouldn’t present any problems.
Manatee was scheduled to play at Palm Harbor University on Friday night, but there was concern about the path of Matthew and whether the Skyway Bridge might be closed on Friday night.
“It hasn’t really changed our preparation. We essentially got two walk-through practices in the gym on Monday and Tuesday because of the weather and got half of our practice outside (Tuesday),” he said. “We decided to keep it as normal as possible and had a practice today outside today. We are playing well, defensively we played really well holding Alonso to 18 yards rushing and Steinbrenner to 17 yards rushing.”
It’s a Class 8A-District 6 game that must be played. Booth said the game Thursday was the best option among scheduling the game for either Saturday or Monday.
Manatee went through district play undefeated last season to win its eighth straight district title and 29th overall. Palm Harbor, also nicknamed the Hurricanes, is 2-1 in district play.
“Offensively, we have all of our guys healthy and back out there since the kickoff classic and I think the kids are in good shape, feeling good and playing with a lot of confidence right now,” Booth said.
Manatee defeated Palm Harbor 43-3 last year, but the host Hurricanes return a nucleus from that 6-4 team.
“They were very young last year. They have a good quarterback who is pretty mobile and a pretty shifty wide receiver who played last year, so we have to make sure we are fundamentally sound defensively,” Booth said. “They bring pressure from the defensive side, so we have to make sure we are protecting up front and sustaining blocks downfield.”
Defensively, Booth lauded Cedric Waters for his play against Steinbrenner, when he intercepted two passes, and Carter Sysak, for his continue play on the defensive line, along with the entire secondary.
Manatee isn’t the only team affected by Hurricane Matthew’s approach.
IMG Academy canceled its homecoming game against Southern Lab (La.) because of travel concerns for the visitors. The schools first announced a postponement after Matthew’s track was moved westward Wednesday afternoon. A short time later, the game was canceled. IMG Academy already has games scheduled through Nov. 12.
The remaining three games Friday that involve area teams are Southeast at Cardinal Mooney, Saint Stephen’s at Out-of-Door Academy and Bayshore at home against North Port. They are still scheduled to play, though the schools and the Manatee County School District are monitoring the hurricane’s path.