Manatee to face its toughest opponent thus far in 2013

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The Manatee Hurricanes have five state titles under their belt. They're currently the top ranked high school football team in Florida. On their way to being the Class 8A District 7 district champions for 2013, they've won 33 of their last 34, with their most recent regular season loss coming two years ago. It'd be a harsh understatement to say the Hurricanes are tough to beat, yet their next opponent may be just as tough.

“We may not win, but we wanted to face competition that's comparable to the best 8A teams in the state,” Manatee Head Coach Joe Kinnan said.

The team Kinnan is referring to – the team he considers such fierce competition that a loss is something that can even be considered – are the University School of NSU Suns (out of Fort Lauderdale). The Suns come into Friday night's game undefeated on the season, also winners of 33 of their last 34. Though a smaller school than Manatee, University also touts a spot near the top of the state rankings. And when they make the trip to Manatee for their late-season matchup, they'll be posing the biggest challenge the Hurricanes have faced in 2013.

“It's probably the premiere game in the nation this week,” Kinnan said.

Kinnan noted that the Suns had 12 NCAA Division I signees last year, and compared University's exceptional level of player personnel to that of St. Thomas Aquinas' (the last team able to defeat Manatee). But not to be outdone, Manatee has top recruits of its own leading the team on the field every Friday night. To name a few, receiver Brodrick Yancy is a Temple commit, offensive lineman Mike Galati is slated to play for USF and defensive tackle DeMarcus Christmas has committed to Florida State.

With the Hurricanes wanting the best competition possible as they gear up for yet another playoff run, it comes as no surprise that the Suns are showing up on the schedule in late October. And while they already have a championship pedigree, a win against a fellow state powerhouse would further propel the Hurricanes into the postseason.

Kick-off in Manatee for this game of the week is set for 7:30 p.m. ABC 7 will bring you additional coverage of the game on Friday's 6 p.m. broadcast, with stats and highlights on Football Friday Night at 11:15 p.m.