BRADENTON -- High school football is in full swing and there's a big game at Hawkins Stadium tonight as number-one ranked Manatee hosts Miami Central in what could be the toughest test for the 'Canes all season. Palmetto is also home against DeSoto, while Southeast hosts Booker. Miami Central opened the season as USA Today's number-one ranked squad, but were upset in week one, losing a national showcase game against Georgia powerhouse Grayson High 35-3 on the road.
The Miami Central Rockets bounced back to beat rival Washington High 37-26 last week and will be looking to get back toward the top of the of the national title scene against Manatee, currently ranked number one in the nation by both USA Today and Maxpreps.com and number three in ESPN's High School Top 50. The game could have other implications as Grayson is ranked No. 1 by ESPN, No. 2 by Maxpreps.com and No.3 by USA Today. Miami Central gives the two teams a common opponent, something of a rarity in national high school rankings, where teams are traditionally matched only in a region of their state.
Going into the season, it looked like the Rockets game would provide a head to head clash of No. 1 teams and most likely determine the national champion when all was said and done. Instead, the polls will likely be looking closely at whether the Hurricanes can handle the Rockets as easily as Grayson did, so Manatee not only needs to win, but by a considerable margin, in order to move forward in their quest toward a first national title.
Southeast (1-1) should have a chance to work on what can only be called shaky play, especially by their offense, which hasn't yet managed 30 points on the season, as they host a struggling Booker High squad. Coach Marino will get to continue to refine Palmetto's (2-0) explosive and revolving offense against DeSoto at home, while Bayshore (0-2) will have its hands full at Lakewood Ranch (1-1).
Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Miami Central @ Manatee
DeSoto @ Palmetto
Booker @ Southeast
Bayshore @ Lakewood Ranch
Braden River @ Miami Palmetto
Bradenton Christian @ Cambridge Christian (Tampa)
Saturday, 6 p.m.
St. Stephens @ Southwest Florida Christian (Fort Myers)
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