BRADENTON, FL. - The Manatee High Hurricanes are ranked number one in the latest USA Today coming off a nationally televised win on Sunday.
It's right there on the front page of the sports section in USA Today for all the world to see. The hurricanes are number one in the super 25 high school rankings.
For the players, it's a moment to savor. "It was a real honor to be number one recognized as the number one team in the nation. There are a lot of good teams out there and to be e number one is pretty cool," says Quarterback Cord Sandberg.
But it was the first of the season, and the players don't want to get too cocky. "It's a good feeling as of right now not as good as it would be at the end of the season to be number one," says Safety Willie Smith.
That’s something Coach Joe Kinnan is determined not to let the players forget. “People don't remember who was ranked number one at the beginning of the year they remember who was ranked number at the end of the year."
Kinnan says this number one ranking will actually make the season harder, because every team on their schedule will be gunning for them, and the players know that’s true. "It's a great honor to be put up so high, so we've got a big bull’s-eye on our backs," says Defensive End Marquis Dawsey.
Kinnan says right now a lot of their competitors are putting this article up in their locker rooms to inspire their players to make their best effort against Manatee. "I know if I were on the other side of the coin it would be going up in plastering and do all we can to say what a great opportunity they have to make a statement."
Kinnan has been here before. Manatee was ranked number one in 1991, and he knows how hard it is to bring everything together to build a national champion.
Some of the reasons they're so highly ranked, Kinnan says, is that Manatee has a great off season training program, continuity with great assistant coaches who've been there a long time, and a special bunch of players.
“There's a lot of leadership and experience on the team," says Tackle Thor Miller.
"We're a real tight team like brothers we know each other's mothers where we live we hang out all the time we're just a good group of guys and we've got a lot of talent on the field," says Dawsey.
But it is a long season, 14 more games to go if the canes make it into the playoffs. Coach Kinnan says he and his staff are determined not to let the team blow this opportunity of a lifetime.
"What we want them to do is not at the end of the year not say what could have been we let it get away," says Kinnan