High School Football

Prep football 2019: New districts, coaching changes for Manatee’s public-school teams

Highlights from the 2018 season for Manatee County football teams

Here are some highlights from the 2018 season for Manatee County football teams.
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Here are some highlights from the 2018 season for Manatee County football teams.

High school football is back along the Suncoast — and with a twist.

Manatee County no longer has six public school programs. Parrish Community High School has opened and is fielding a football team this fall.

The first-year program under head coach Christopher Culton is set to play a junior varsity schedule as it gets its feet wet.

Meanwhile, there are changes brewing elsewhere in the county.

Lakewood Ranch has a new coach, but he’s been around the sidelines here before.

Rashad West, a Southeast High alum, previously led the Seminoles before taking last year off from coaching. He started his coaching career at Lakewood Ranch as an assistant in the early 2000s.

Bayshore has revamped its offense to go to a spread model, so look for the Bruins to air it out more this fall.

Southeast is in Year 2 under Brett Timmons, who was a member of the Seminoles’ state title teams in 1993 and 1994. Timmons spoke at the inaugural Suncoasat Media Day about restoring Southeast’s tradition, following the blueprint legendary head coach Paul Maechtle put together.

Braden River, one of the area’s best teams over the past several years under head coach Curt Bradley, went back to basics with offseason character development activities to build a cohesive unit for the upcoming campaign.

Palmetto returns experience on both sides of the ball with lofty expectations. The same is true at Manatee. Former Florida Gator and NFL player Jacquez Green is on head coach Yusuf Shakir’s staff, serving as the Hurricanes’ offensive coordinator.

The Florida High School Athletic Association realigned districts, and the impact was felt in Manatee County with teams moving up and down in classifications.

Bayshore no longer plays in the same district as Southeast, which jumped up to join a Class 6A-District 12 with Braden River, Palmetto, Punta Gorda Charlotte and Port Charlotte.

Manatee dropped a class to join Class 7A-District 10 with Venice, Lakewood Ranch and Sarasota.

Bayshore is in Class 5A-District 12 with Booker, Tampa Chamberlain, St. Petersburg Gibbs, Tampa Jesuit and Tampa Robinson.

Here’s a look at each team:

Bayshore Brian Coleman.JPG
Senior quarterback Brian Coleman is expected to lead a recently installed spread offense for Bayshore. Bradenton Herald file photo

Bayshore

Coach: John Biezuns

2018 record: 5-5

Players to watch: Senior QB Brian Coleman ... Junior WR Kevin Campbell ... Senior DB/RB Devon Randall ... Junior WR/LB Chris Snyder.

Need to know: The Bruins are no longer in a district with Southeast and Wauchula Hardee, instead moving into a district with Tampa schools along with Sarasota Booker and St. Petersburg Gibbs. ... The old ground-and-pound game is in the rear-view mirror. The Bruins are switching to a spread offense, which gets the ball moving to multiple players instead of relying on one or two primary skill guys to create on offense. ... The new-look offense has a buzz and excitement among the players for a program that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2005.

2019 schedule:

Aug. 23 at Sarasota, 7:30 p.m.

Aug. 30 vs. Auburndale, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 6 at Lakewood Ranch, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 13 vs. Tampa Chamberlain, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 20 vs. Southeast, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 27 at St. Petersburg Gibbs, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 4 at North Port, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 11 vs. Booker, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 18 at Tampa Robinson, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 25 at Tampa Jesuit, 7:30 p.m.

Nov. 1 Open

BR Noah Font.JPG
Senior linebacker Noah Font will help lead an experienced Braden River defense. Bradenton Herald file photo

Braden River

Coach: Curt Bradley

2018 record: 9-3

Players to watch: Junior QB Shawqi Itraish ... Senior LB Noah Font ... Senior WR Robbie Goecker ... Senior LB Quinn McNulty ... Senior LB Luke Reeves.

Need to know: The Pirates worked on character development activities in the offseason to put together more of a team this season compared to a collection of individual stars. ... Braden River lost lots of offensive production with graduations of QB Bryan Gagg, WR/RB/LB Knowledge McDaniel and WR Clyde Townsend, and the transfers of TE Travis Tobey and RB Brian Battie. ... Still, Braden River boasts an experienced defense and should remain a strong team this season as the Pirates drop into Class 6A with Palmetto to join a district with Southeast, Punta Gorda Charlotte and Port Charlotte for the first time.

2019 schedule:

Aug. 23 vs. Largo, 7:30 p.m.

Aug. 30 vs. Sarasota Riverview, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 6 at Manatee, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 13 vs. Punta Gorda Charlotte, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 20 at St. Petersburg Lakewood, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 27 at Palmetto, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 4 at Booker, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 11 vs. Southeast, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 18 Open

Oct. 25 at Port Charlotte, 7:30 p.m.

Nov. 1 vs. Clearwater Academy International, 7:30 p.m.

LR Rashad West.JPG
Former Southeast High coach Rashad West takes over a Lakewood Ranch program that went 0-10 in 2018. Bradenton Herald file photo

Lakewood Ranch

Coach: Rashad West

2018 record: 0-10

Players to watch: Senior DB/RB Isaiah Harrison ... Senior WR Mike Cucci ... Senior OL Shamar Beatty ... Senior OL Garrett Mancini ... Senior LB Angelo Lafrese ... Senior OL AJ Henry ... Senior DB Dylan Bennett ... Senior DB Jake Zapatha.

Need to know: The triple-option offense is gone as the program enters the Rashad West era, where a different system will be taking place Friday nights. ... West started his coaching career as an assistant with the Mustangs in 2002. ... The Mustangs remained in a Class 7A district with Sarasota and powerhouse Venice, but also saw county foe Manatee drop classifications to round out the four-team district.

2019 schedule:

Aug. 23 at Cape Coral Ida Baker, 7:30 p.m.

Aug. 30 at Englewood Lemon Bay, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 6 vs. Bayshore, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 13 vs. North Port, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 20 Open

Sept. 27 at Manatee, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 4 vs. Tampa Bay Christian Academy, 7 p.m.

Oct. 11 vs. Venice, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 18 vs. St. Petersburg Dixie Hollins, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 25 at Sarasota, 7:30 p.m.

Nov. 1 at Seminole, 7:30 p.m.

Manatee Irone Jackson.JPG
Look for Manatee to get the ball to junior Irone Jackson as often as possible this season. Bradenton Herald file photo

Manatee

Coach: Yusuf Shakir

2018 record: 7-5

Players to watch: Junior ATH Irone Jackson ... Senior DL Ryan Ives ... Senior LB Justin Porter ... Senior K Axel Lepvreau ... Senior P Nick Bigelow ... Senior RB Napoleon Harris ... Sophomore RB Kyree Jones ... Senior DB Shemar Williams ... Senior DB Jordan Alexis.

Need to know: The Hurricanes are primed to make noise this season entering the second full season with Yusuf Shakir. ... They’ve gotten away from the Hillsborough County-centric district in Class 8A to drop to 7A and into a four-team district with Sarasota, Lakewood Ranch and Venice that allows for more non-district schedule flexibility. ... Manatee’s special teams combo of Axel Lepvreau and Nick Bigelow is as good of a one-two punch as any team has, and several Hurricanes are getting college attention.

2019 schedule:

Aug. 23 vs. Lakeland, 7:30 p.m.

Aug. 30 at Palmetto, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 6 vs. Braden River, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 13 Open

Sept. 20 at Lakeland Kathleen, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 27 vs. Lakewood Ranch, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 4 vs. Coconut Creek, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 11 vs. Sarasota, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 18 vs. Kissimmee Osceola, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 25 at Venice, 7:30 p.m.

Nov. 1 vs. Miami Jackson, 7:30 p.m.

Palmetto LaJohntay Wester.JPG
Palmetto is loaded at wide receiver, with senior LaJohntay Wester among the Tigers’ skill players who have contributed for several seasons. Bradenton Herald file photo

Palmetto

Coach: Dave Marino

2018 record: 8-4

Players to watch: Senior WR LaJohntay Wester ... Senior WR Eddravian Butler ... Senior WR Kobe Mays ... Senior WR Curtis Thomas.

Need to know: The Tigers are loaded at receiver, and those skill players have started and contributed for several seasons. ... Palmetto is also deep at the secondary on defense, with several starters returning. ... Palmetto has a new quarterback this season in senior Xavier Williams with junior quarterback Josh Siplin, who played freshman football before focusing on basketball last year, returning.

2019 schedule:

Aug. 23 vs. Largo Pinellas Park, 7:30 p.m.

Aug. 30 vs. Manatee, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 6 at Sarasota Riverview, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 13 at Port Charlotte, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 20 at Largo, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 27 vs. Braden River, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 4 Open

Oct. 11 at Punta Gorda Charlotte, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 18 vs. Southeast, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 25 at Tallahassee Lincoln, 7 p.m.

Nov. 1 vs. St. Petersburg, 7:30 p.m.

Southeast Maleek Huggins.JPG
Junior quarterback Maleek Huggins will lead the Southeast offense. Bradenton Herald file photo

Southeast

Coach: Brett Timmons

2018 record: 4-6

Players to watch: Senior DB Camron Bartels ... Senior LB Javian McClern ... Junior QB Maleek Huggins ... Junior WR E’rion Neri ... Junior WR Calvin Clark ... Senior RB Chauncey Wilson ... Senior DL Eli Washington.

Need to know: The Seminoles were young last year after seeing some experienced players transfer to other county programs. This year’s group, though, has juniors and seniors at key positions. ... Southeast jumped a classification and isn’t in an easy district. The Seminoles face Braden River and Palmetto, two of the county’s top teams over the last several seasons, along with Punta Gorda Charlotte and Port Charlotte.

2019 schedule:

Aug. 23 Open

Aug. 30 at Booker, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 6 vs. Fort Myers Evangelical Christian, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 13 Open

Sept. 20 at Bayshore, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 27 vs. Port Charlotte, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 4 at Sarasota, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 11 at Braden River, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 18 at Palmetto, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 25 vs. Punta Gorda Charlotte, 7:30 p.m.

Nov. 1 vs. Cardinal Mooney, 7:30 p.m.

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Sports reporter Jason has covered high school, college and pro sports since joining the Bradenton Herald in 2010. He’s won Florida Press Club awards for sports feature and column writing. He currently writes college and pro sports stories for the McClatchy East Region real-time team.
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