Spectrum Sports Top 20: No. 9 Manatee

By Katherine Smith, Spectrum Sports
Last Updated: Wednesday, August 09, 2017, 10:23 AM EDT

No. 9 Manatee Hurricanes

2016: 7-4, lost in the first round of the Class 8A playoffs to Dr. Phillips (39-7)

Head Coach: Yusuf Shakir, first year head coach at Manatee, eight seasons at Tallahassee Lincoln, two seasons at Gibbs

Key Returners: RB Keyon Fordham, CB/QB Sir Williams, RB Joshua Booker, WR Javarius Pollock, WR Jadan Robinson, MLB Brandon Dossey, OLB/SS Gary White, DL Carter Sysak, S Josh Betts, DB Cedrick Waters, DB Frank Waiters

The Scoop: The two biggest questions marks going into the season for the Canes – who will replace former head coach John Booth, who left just after the spring game and who will replace former starting quarterback A.J. Colagiovanni, who accounted for 2,842 of Manatee’s 4,544 offensive yards last season.

The answer to the first part, Shakir, the former Tallahassee Lincoln and Gibbs head coach. Shakir was selected from more than 100 applicants.

The answer to the second part was supposed to be Ryan Overstreet. He started for the Canes in the spring game and was penciled in to replace Colagiovanni. But he transferred to Plant City, where former offensive coordinator James Booth is now the head coach.

That leaves four quarterbacks on Manatees roster vying for the starting spot, none with starting quarterback experience.

Quotable: "We have a lot of kids that understand the program, that understand the level of success that's expected of them." Shakir

Schedule:

8/25 vs. Lakeland

9/1 at Palmetto

9/8 Braden River

9/15 Newsome

9/22 at Steinbrenner

9/28 at Alonso

10/6 Palm Harbor University

10/13 at Sarasota Riverview

10/20 at Riverview

11/3 Venice

Story:

It’s all about tradition with the Manatee Hurricanes. Loyalty to the program runs deep for some.

“I’ve had family that’s played there,” senior safety Josh Betts said. “I’ve had family that’s won state championships here. It’s very important to me. It’s an honor to put on a jersey every Friday night and showcase what Manatee football is all about.”

When you’ve won five state titles and a national championship, tradition has a way of seeping its way into the foundation with every lift, every sprint, everything. And when that foundation is rocked, like Manatee’s was when former head coach John Booth resigned just before the spring game and replaced with Yusuf Shakir a couple of months ago, weathering the storm becomes a necessity.

“We just came out and we just said, you know what guys, this is our new head coach and we’ve got to get adjusted to him and let’s just do it,” senior wide receiver Javarius Pollock said.

“I think it brings us together and unifies us more, for sure,” Betts said. “Just in the sense that we’ve all got to work together. We’ve got to have each other’s backs. We’ve got to pull together to have a good season.”

New head coach Yusuf Shakir inherited a young roster, a lot of unproven talent. He was also thrown a curve ball when his projected starting quarterback Ryan Overstreet transferred to Plant City just before the start of the season.

“We have an inexperienced team, a team that doesn’t have a lot of experience in games,” Shakir said. “We don’t have a quarterback that’s played in a Varsity game yet. So we have a lot to develop, a lot of guys starting who are going to be starting for the first time.”

Young, but hungry. And proud. Putting on the Canes colors means something to these players and that pride provides hope for the future.

“I’m excited about it,” Shakir said. “New beginnings always excite you.”

Time to build some new traditions at Manatee.