Sunday, July 25, 2010

Southeast runner-up in 7 on 7 Tourney

Southeast made it to the championship game of the 7 on 7 Tournament Saturday at the IMG Academies field while Manatee High’s promising sophomore quarterback Cord Sandberg had to pack it in early and the Hurricanes chances faded with him.

The ‘Noles fought their way out of the loser’s bracket and put themselves in a position where they had to beat Texas LaVilla twice. They did it the first time, but fell short in the title finale.

Manatee’s hopes took a hit early when Sandberg had to retire in the ‘Canes second game because he had worn out his arm the previous night throwing what was estimated to be about 500 passes at the University of Florida’s Friday Night Lights camp.

Mike Blakely, the ‘Canes highly touted running back, took over the signal calling duties and Manatee couldn’t make it to the final, finishing in third place.

Blakely was also at the Friday Night Lights camp along with teammate Quenton Bundrage, a senior receiver. Also at the camp were Southeast junior defensive back Brian Poole Jr. and defensive lineman Giovani Francois.

It was a day of upsets. South Carolina Wren, which finished undefeated in pool play and was the first seed in the elimination round, lost twice Saturday including a 42-25 defeat to LaVilla and never made it to the finals.

“This was good because we had a situation where we scored three touchdowns quickly and something like this helps your kids understand you are not necessarily out of it until that final whistle blows,” Southeast head coach Paul Maecthle said. “During the regular season you have to wait a week after you lose a game, but here we had a chance to play again right away. I think it helps you handle adversity.”

“My son is fine and feels good. He was just a little tired and we decided it was better that he didn’t play on Saturday. He feels really good today (Sunday),” his dad and Manatee receivers coach Chuck Sandberg said.

USF-Florida kickoff time is set

For USF fans, a day many have been waiting for since the Bulls football program began in 1997 now has a starting time.

When the Bulls travel to face Florida on September 11th in the inaugural meeting between the teams, the kickoff will be at 12:21 for the battle in The Swamp. The historic game (at least from a USF perspective) will be televised on the SEC network.

USF will open its season at home a week earlier against Stony Brook from the Big South Conference, the only FCS (formerly I-AA) team on its schedule.

The first five games of the season for USF will all be in Florida. Besides the game at UF’s Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and Stony Brook, the Bulls are home against Western Kentucky, FAU and Syracuse.

Bulls The enter the 2010 season under new head coach Skip Holtz, who will be trying to guide USF to its first Big East Conference championship after winning two Conference USA titles at East Carolina.

Bulls appear headed to old Dodgertown

It appears the USF football program will undergo a first under new head coach Skip Holtz.

The former East Carolina coach wants the Bulls to hold most of their pre-season training camp at the Vero Beach Sports Village (the old Dodgertown), which is the former long time training home of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The complex has a large housing area that could accommodate the entire team, coaching staff and other personnel deemed important to the camp.

The younger Holt got the idea to do a training camp from his dad, Lou Holtz, when he was head coach at Notre Dame. Skip did it when he was head coach at Connecticut and liked it.

He says it helps build team chemistry and sharpens each player’s focus with the minimal amount of distraction. The team would likely start practicing there on August 6th and spend about two weeks there before returning for the start of classes on August 23d.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Carlton to walk-on at USF

Former Lakewood Ranch High multi-sport standout Jake Carlton has decided to walk on to the USF football team.

It’s not certain how the Bulls will use the 6-3, 210 pound tight-end, who was also a two year starter on the Mustangs basketball team. He was used as a tight end last season and previously had worked as a defensive back.

Though he will not receive an athletic scholarship, at least in the beginning, Carlton will have most of his costs taken care of by his Bright Futures Scholarship. At USF, he will join his former teammate, Austin Reiter, who was the Mustangs top offensive lineman last season and enrolled in college in January.

Last season, Carlton caught 21 passes for 323 yards and two touchdowns. He gained a reputation as a very physical, hard-nose player who was very good at blocking in the Mustangs run game. He also ran the ball five times for 43 yards.

On the basketball court, Carlton was known for his toughness and ability to get down in the post and mix it up with taller players. He was a very unselfish player and a had good mid-range jumper.

Milledge making most of new chance

Looks as if Lastings Milledge is getting the chance to be an everyday player and so far the results are good.

The Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder started his third straight game since the All-Star break, all against right handers, and has some nice numbers to show for the new faith Bucs manager John Russell has showed in him.

The Lakewood Ranch High product has five hits in 12 at-bats during those three games with three RBIs and three runs scored while showing his defensive prowess.

For the month of July, Milledge is hitting .355 and has hit safely in seven of nine games. He played a big role in the Pirates snapping a seven game losing streak Saturday with two hits, two ribbies and a run scored in a 12-6 victory. On Sunday,
Milledge had two more hits, drove in a run and scored a run a 9-0 whitewash over Houston.

In Saturday’s victory, Milledge leaped high in the air into the fence to rob Houston’s Michael Bourn of an extra base hit and stop what might have been a big inning.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Russell continues to treat Milledge poorly

John Russell’s handling of Lastings Milledge continues to be the most baffling bit of managing going on in the major leagues. But maybe that is another reason why the Pittsburgh manager is sitting with the worst record in the National League and second worse overall to the lowly Baltimore Orioles.

Russell continues to platoon the right handed hitting Milledge with lefty hitting Ryan Church despite numbers that say this is an extremely counter-productive move.

Milledge was hitting .276 overall heading into the all-star break. He is batting .318 against lefties and .255 against right-handers (42-265). Church is batting .194 against right-handers (24-124) and .156 against lefties for an anemic overall BA of .186.

But it gets worse. With runners in scoring position against the so-called righties he can’t hit as suggested by Russell’s maneuvering, Milledge is batting .361 (13-36) while Church is hitting .167 against right handers with runners in scoring position.

Looking at the other skills makes this platoon system even more senseless. At 25, Milledge is six years younger than Church. The Lakewood Ranch High grad is more athletic, better defensively, can cover more ground in the outfield and can run the bases so much better.

In the last seven days before the All-Star break, Church had 1 hit in 11 at-bats and struck out five times, but continues to start when a right hander is on the mound.

Church is a 14th round draft pick, who has a career .249 BA with runners in scoring position that includes striking out 130 times in 428 at-bats, which means he striking out every 3.3 times with RISP.

A first round, 12th overall pick, Milledge’s career batting average with RISP is .281 and with RISP and two outs .269. He has 69 strikeouts in 349 at-bats with RISP, which is a 5.0 ratio.

It makes you wonder if Russell is hoping to make one less person mad at him by putting Church in the lineup.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

LeBron to Miami guarantees nothing

LeBron James and Chris Bosh joining Dwayne Wade in Miami guarantees nothing, though frustration could be a by-product.

It doesn’t assure the Miami Heat will win an NBA title or the club will make money during the length of this deal. There were a lot of empty seats during Heat home games this past season and if this so-called “magnificent trio” doesn’t win a title and the novelty wears off, it could turn into a financial bust.

Going back to the sixties and up through today, NBA history has shown teams with super-stars more often than not fail to win championships. The two best examples are the Lakers with Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor and the ’96 Houston Rockets team that had Charles Barkley, Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler.

click here for full story

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

McKenzie highly touted heading into 2010 season

Former Bradenton Prep receiver Jermaine McKenzie is listed as a first team receiver heading into his inaugural season at Memphis and has been named a fantasy football sleeper for the upcoming 2010 campaign by College Football Fantasy Insider.

McKenzie stood out in the Tigers spring game where he caught a 72-yard touchdown pass and showed some of the promise that made him a highly touted recruit in high school.

He came to Memphis in 2009 and played in last year’s spring game, but McKenzie had to sit out last season because of the NCAA transfer rules and has two years of eligibility remaining.

The 6-2, 185 pound, junior came to the Conference USA school from Miami where his career was interrupted by a car accident he was involved in during his freshman year. He had to sit out the rest of the season and struggled to get playing time, which preceded his decision to transfer.

McKenzie tried to get a waiver to play last year at Memphis, but was turned down. He has a great opportunity now with the Tigers losing their top two receivers from last season.

Also on the Tigers roster is his brother Tremaine McKenzie, who played in two games for Memphis last year on special teams before suffering a shoulder injury that forced him to miss the rest of the season.

Tremaine had transferred to Memphis from College of Siskiyous in California where he played safety and had a standout season racking up 33 tackles, including 22 solos.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Dowling better than advertised

Phil Steele’s College Football Preview Magazine has been the rated the most accurate prognostication publication for its sport over the last 12 years.

With that in mind, the magazine’s 2010 edition lists Southeast High graduate Jon Dowling as one of the top 500 freshmen in this year’s class.

Having spoken to Phil a few times, I have the utmost respect for him, but I have to disagree with some of his fortune telling for 2010, particularly in this case.

He has Dowling listed as the 18th best defensive back entering college. I figure he is much better than 18th and will prove it unless Gators coach Urban Meyer moves him to receiver as has been discussed.

Similar to many other publications, Steele has St. Thomas Aquinas grad LaMarcus Joyner (headed for FSU) as the second best DB in the ’10 freshman class. The 5-8, 165 pound Joyner sure didn’t show anything special when his team saw its national number one ranking and unbeaten streak end in a loss to Manatee in the state semis.

The cornerback has a size issue for his position. People are saying he makes up for that with his speed and acceleration, but have to feel the 6-3, 185 pound Dowling can bring a lot more to the table, including a physical presence.

Weatherford commits to USF

USF head football coach Skip Holtz received some good news last week when Land O’ Lakes High quarterback Stephen Weatherford verbally committed to the Bulls.

The 6-3, 205 pound Weatheford is the first quarterback in the Class of 2011 and sixth player overall to commit to the Bulls. Nothing is binding until players sign a letter-of-intent in February of 2011.

Weatherford reportedly chose USF over Big East rival Cincinnati, which along with Iowa State, were the only other BCS schools to make an offer. He hopes to graduate high school early and enroll in college for winter semester of 2011.

As a junior, Weatherford threw for 2,052 yards and 27 touchdowns with only five interceptions playing for Matt Kitchie, who took over the Land O’Lakes job last year after serving as the Saint Stephen’s head coach for three years. Rivals.Com rates him a 3-star recruit and Scout.Com has him a 2-star.

Of course, Weatherford has a quarterback bloodline, which some consider strong and others might question. His oldest brother Drew played for FSU and is now with the Tampa Bay Storm in the Arena Football League. His other brother Joe transferred to West Georgia after originally signing with UCF.

The quarterback situation at USF appears fluid. B.J. Daniels, a rising sophomore, is solidly entrenched as the incumbent and Jamius Gunsby, who will be a true freshman this season, figures to be the backup unless they decide to redshirt him.

Ford 's troubles continue to mount

The recent arrest of former USF running back Mike Ford is another example that athletic ability doesn’t guarantee success.

Ford participated in last week’s Slam Jam celebrity charity basketball game at the Manatee Convention Center. He said he was headed for the Canadian Football League’s Toronto Argonauts, but now that seems to be another vanished dream.

Ford’s career has been on a downward spiral with a few bumps upward since the graduated from Sarasota High in 2005 as arguably the best high school running back the Manatee-Sarasota County area ever produced.

It took Ford two years to finally get into college and his three years at USF were marred by off the field troubles along with a disappointing ankle injury his sophomore year that ruined what most people thought would be his break-out season.

Ford was booted off the USF football team in the spring for violating unspecified team rules. There was talk he would transfer to Division II North Alabama or try his hand at professional football.

The 6-2, 225 pound running back has been arrested for traffic violations that included non paid tickets and driving without a license.

His most recent arrest is on a misdemeanor count of domestic battery, which he claims is not true. Regardless of how this case turns out, Ford is definitely running out of chances to play football.

In 2004 for Sarasota High, Ford rushed for 37 touchdowns and 2,836 yards, which is the sixth highest single season mark in state history. It is 82 yards shy of NFL Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith, who recorded that number in 1985.