SARASOTA, Fla. -- School starts back up on Monday, and that means the high school football season is right around the corner. Pre-season games kick off August 22nd, with the regular season beginning the following Friday.
Teams are gearing up for what should be another exciting year of high school football on the Suncoast, with plenty of great storylines to follow.
In Manatee County, Joe Kinnan Field will be without its namesake legendary head coach. Kinnan decided in the off-season to step away from the game, citing health reasons. John Booth, a former Manatee Hurricane and head coach at Valrico-Bloomingdale is taking over the reins.
The ‘Canes will also be without last year's starting quarterback Josh Meyer. His absence has nothing to do with the injury he sustained in last year's playoff loss to Ft. Pierce Central, but an arrest. Meyer transferred from Manatee after being charged with Lewd and Lascivious Battery.
Instead, senior Sloan Drummonds, a transfer from Sebastian River High, will take the snaps this season. He'll have last year's star backup running back Johnnie Lang to help on offense.
Across the river, Palmetto High will be led by quarterback Jack Allison, a University of Miami commit. The Tigers look to make the playoffs for a fifth straight season in a very competitive district.
One of those district teams, Braden River, could be this year's Cinderella story. The team's entire offensive line returns.
Not returning to the Southeast High sidelines this season is Paul Maechtle. The long-time head coach announced his retirement, but it didn’t last long. He's now an assistant coach for Cardinal Mooney, which just happens to have one of the best quarterbacks on the Suncoast: senior Reese Vita.
At Booker, Jeremiah Henderson is back at quarterback after the team's first playoff appearance in years. But the Tornados are without a huge piece of the offense, with running back Marlon Mack now playing college ball at USF.
Sarasota has a new head coach, Brian Ryals. He'll get to coach running back Justin Austin, who rushed for over 1,200 yards and 14 touchdowns last season.
The Riverview Rams will also have their star running back again this year. If healthy, Karan Higdon will no doubt once again be among the Suncoast's best rushers.
Down in Venice, Terry Polk is gone, and so is Dom Marino. But head coach John Peacock will keep his Indians in the playoff hunt with a stellar returning defense.
And in North Port, it may not be a year to remember for the Bobcats. The team welcomes a new head coach in Larry Detwiler, but last year's starting quarterback --Brennan Simms -- now a Charlotte Tarpon.
And we want to remind you that another high school football season means another year of Football Friday Night! Starting on Friday, August 29th, ABC 7 will bring you highlights and scores during our 11 pm newscast.
And just like last year, if you're heading out to a game this season, send us your pictures! We want to put them on the air. Just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.