MANATEE--It's deja-vu all over again as the Manatee Hurricanes will face St. Thomas Aquinas in the state semifinals Friday night in Brian Piccolo Stadium in Ft. Lauderdale. One year ago the 'Canes beat the Raiders 28-20 in Bradenton to advance to the state championship game. In 2006, St. Thomas Aquinas defeated Manatee in double overtime to reach the finals. Both games were classics and this one should be no different.
|Manatee faces St. Thomas Aquinas Friday Night
The Hurricanes (13-0) will play in its fourth state semifinal in the last six years. Last week Manatee defeated Bayside 35-32 in Palm Bay and will make the cross-state trip again to take on St. Thomas Aquinas.
The Raiders (13-0) are ranked third in the state and fifteenth in the nation. Joe Kinnan's Hurricane defense will have to find a way to stop the St. Thomas Aquinas powerhouse offense which has racked up 604 points this season. The Raiders defense has allowed just 86 points per game in 2010.
The Raiders routed the Boyd Anderson 47-6 last week to win its seventh straight Region 4-5A Championship. Manatee handed St. Thomas its only loss in the past 51 games in last year's state semifinal ending the Raiders string of five consecutive state finals appearances and two state titles.
Manatee will be challenged to contain the Raiders strong passing attack led by senior quarterback Jake Rudock, who is committed to playing at the University of Iowa next year. Rudock's favorite receivers are a pair of seniors Phil Dorsett and Rashad Greene.
Hurricanes standout running back Mike Blakely is back in top form after suffering an ankle injury midway through the 2010 campaign. Quarterback Cord Sandberg has been firing on all cylinders completing 17 of 19 passes for 252 yards and three touchdowns in last week's regional final against Bayside.
The 'Canes have been waiting all year to have a chance to get back to the finals in the Citrus Bowl. All that stands in their way is a St. Thomas Aquinas team that believes it has ownership of the 5A title.
A broadcast of the game can be heard by clicking here.
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