High School Football

Manatee, Southeast meet for 31st time Friday

BRADENTON -- It's Manatee-Southeast week.

Consider it Bradenton Bowl XXXI, as Friday marks the 31st meeting between the Hurricanes and Seminoles.

Friday's game will be played at 7:30 p.m. at John Kiker Memorial Stadium, site of Southeast's last win in the series, which came in 2006.

Since then, it's been all Manatee.

The Hurricanes have won five straight and own a 16-14 lead in the series on the strength of a 48-6 win last year, marking the largest margin of victory in the series' history.

The teams began squaring off in 1974. Manatee won the game 13-6 but the result was overturned and awarded to Southeast by forfeit. When they hit the field again in

1979, the Canes won by 26 points and put a stranglehold on the series, scoring wins in eight of the next nine years by an average of more than 20 points.

But Southeast took control with a 14-9 victory in 1992, and lost only twice more (1995, 2003) before Manatee began its current winning streak in '07.

The programs, that have teamed to win state seven championships under their current head coaches -- Joe Kinnan at Manatee and Paul Maechtle at Southeast -- enter Friday's game on winning streaks.

The Noles have won three straight since losing a heartbreaker Week 1 in Largo, including last week's overtime victory at Sarasota. Pacing Southeast is Courtney Allen, one the area's most electrifying running backs.

A junior, Allen is second in the area in rushing (577 yards) and has scored eight touchdowns, including one on a punt return.

Southeast can throw the ball, as well. Quarterback Myles Braxton-Johnson has totaled 449 yards through the air while being picked off once in 73 attempts. His top targets are Jacob Sannon (13 catches) and Antonio Ray (16 catches).

Manatee hasn't slowed since winning its fifth state title last year. The Hurricanes, who were off last week, are 3-0 and have won 15 straight dating back to last season, a streak that began at the hands of Southeast.

The Hurricanes opened the season win a 41-6 win over Miramar in a game broadcast live on ESPN2 and defeated nationally-ranked Miami Central 44-34 two weeks ago. The Canes haven't lost a regular-season game to a Florida opponent since 2009.

Manatee is ranked first in the state in Class 7A by The Associated Press and No.1 in the nation by MaxPreps and No. 2 by ESPN. The Canes also are ranked first in the country by USA Today, which updates its rankings each Tuesday.

Quarterback Cord Sandberg has thrown for 703 yards, no interceptions and nine touchdowns, while Trevon Walters (259 rushing yards, 17 receptions, five total touchdowns) has been solid replacing Leon Allen, now at Western Kentucky.

Each team opens district play next week -- Southeast heads to Arcadia Desoto in Class 5A-District 10 game and Manatee visits Braden River in a Class 7A-District 10 meeting.