BRADENTON, Fla. - Coach Joe Kinnan has been a fixture at Manatee High school for three decades.
“Joe Kinnan is Manatee Football. The field is named after him. You come here and it is Joe Kinnan Field at Hawkins Stadium,” said Dave Bristow.
“People don’t remember who was ranked number one at the beginning of the year, they remember who is number one at the end of the year,” Coach Kinnan told ABC 7 in 2012 after the Hurricanes were ranked number one in the nation.
Plenty of people remember the Manatee Hurricanes because under Kinnan's leadership his teams finished number one at the end of the year five different times.
“Five state championships, basically in the playoffs every year, deep runs in the playoffs,” said Bristow whose day job is spokesperson for the Manatee County Sheriff's Office. During football season, Bristow is the radio play by play announcer for the Hurricanes. He tells ABC 7 Coach Kinnan called him Friday to say he was taking a year off from coaching for medical reasons.
“He went to the doctor and basically the doctor told him it wasn’t a good idea to coach this coming year.”
Kinnan has been in this position before. In 2000 he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and took off four years before returning to the sideline full time.
“We definitely think the program will continue to thrive but we certainly would like to see Joe come back,” said Bristow. He said he is confident Manatee High school football fans will see a good team on the field this year but who will be the head coach is still undetermined.
“We don't really know what is going to happen because we don’t know what the principal will do as far as a coach goes. He could take an interim coach that would be here for one year and then, of course, there is always a chance he could find someone that he really liked and bring him on.”
Bristow believes a coaching decision will be made by early next week. One thing is certain, whoever is chosen to coach the Manatee Hurricanes this season will have some big shoes to fill.