With the Manatee High football team getting more attention than a rock star at the MTV Music Awards, some other Manatee County schools might feel slighted.
It could be particularly true down on 37th Avenue, where a talented Southeast High team found itself fighting to save its nickname and school logo last week while its archrival was concerned with whether it had enough room to accommodate ESPN’s TV crew at its game.
Nothing makes an opponent hungrier than a belief that it’s “us against the world.” Hence, if Southeast head coach Paul Maechtle felt frustration over the logo issue with FSU, he should feel better now knowing it will make for great locker-room pre-game fodder when the time is right.
He has a lot of ammunition at his disposal.
As ESPN carried Manatee’s game on the national airways, Maechtle’s team played under the threat of losing 30 years of tradition courtesy of a silly conclusion by FSU that Southeast stole its identity.
The issue was resolved to everyone’s apparent satisfaction, and Southeast will have the spear on its helmets this season, but the scars remain,.
This is high school football in 2010. It’s bigger, different and unpredictable.
Manatee’s victory over Plant, a game that meant nothing (according to the FHSAA), had the effect of a volcanic eruption across the country.
It changed the numbers for every publication that ranks high school football teams, skyrocketing Manatee to dreams of a national championship while sending Plant into the abyss.
In the Bradenton Herald inaugural Fab Five poll, released today, things were more of a traditional nature. Manatee and Southeast are right where most folks feel they should be, one and two, respectively.
Those who reside in the ESPN mansion in Bristol, Conn., might be of the belief that Manatee has a clear path to a national top-five ranking if it gets past Woodland Hills (Pa.) this weekend.
But anyone who has followed the game around these parts knows the biggest obstacle for the Canes might very well be its old nemesis — not Plant or Woodland Hills.
Down through the years, Manatee and Southeast have taken pleasure destroying each other’s dreams. Manatee currently has the upper hand, but that has often been a prelude to disaster in this rivalry.
Manatee is a well-deserved unanimous choice for No. 1, and Southeast got all the No. 2 votes among the Herald pollsters.
If any of the other three have a chance to spring an upset, it appears to be Lakewood Ranch, which has stuck a fair share of daggers into the Southeast football program the past couple years.
Manatee has a target on its back, with the rest of the county teams knowing they can gain national notoriety with a victory over the Canes. Heck, it was there anyway. Now, it’s just a lot bigger and brighter.
But let’s be Abe Lincoln truthful — the only county team with a real chance to defeat the Canes is Southeast.
The Powerade FAB 50 ESPN Rise rankings moved Manatee from No. 19 to No. 3 and has the Canes with a 1-0 record while Plant dropped to 40th and is 0-1.
USA Today moved Manatee from eighth to sixth, while dropping Plant out of its Super 25 Rankings. Rivals.com, which had Plant the top-rated team in the country, apparently wasn’t that impressed with the Canes’ victory, believing it came against an overrated team. It dropped Plant to No. 78 while moving Manatee to 29th from 48th.
Alan Dell, sports reporter, can be reached at 745-7080, ext. 2112.