Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Palmetto High's Jordan Smith has career night against 7th ranked Michigan

Ever since he was a little kid, Palmetto High product Jordan Smith has always dreamed about playing basketball on the big stage.

The sophomore got his chance on Tuesday when South Carolina State traveled to take on Big 10 power and seventh ranked Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Smith made the most of the opportunity pouring in a team high 19 points. The sharp shooting guard drained five of nine from 3-point land. Overall he connected on six of 13 shots and did his damage in only 24 minutes on the floor.

Unfortunately, South Carolina State suffered a 93-59 drubbing from the Wolverines, but it is a night the 6-2 Smith will remember and hopes to add a lot more big games after transferring to SCS following a year at Brevard College.

"I opened a lot of eyes. I was feeling good," Smith said. "I just want to continue to play well and help get our team going. To play and to start at Michigan was very special to me. I want to build on this."

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Despite being maligned and ridiculed Schiano says he is having fun

Has Greg Schiano really lost it?

Despite being maligned, criticized and ridiculed with signs going up all over the Tampa Bay Area calling for him to be fired, the Tampa Bay Bucs head coach says he is having fun.

"Everyday, everyday, I love what I do," Schiano said Wednesday at his daily presser.

"It isn’t always fun for what your family has to go through but as far as my job? It’s the best! What I do for a living, I wouldn’t trade it. I love it. I know I speak for our coaches and players, that’s what makes it exciting," Schiano said.

Okay, everybody has their own idea of what fun constitutes so give Schiano his do. It would be nice if he would win a game, which is probably the only thing Bucs' fans would consider fun.

Winless Tampa has lost seven straight and that number figures to grow to eight when the Bucs visit Seattle on Sunday.

Have fun Greg!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Bucs Carl Nicks has surgery to remove MRSA

Former All Pro guard Carl Nicks, one of the Tampa Bay Bucs prized acquisitions last year, has undergone surgery to remove MRSA from his toe.

Nicks was diagnosed with the deadly infection in training camp, but after treatment was ruled healthy enough to play in week three.

Unfortunately, he suffered a reoccurrence of the disease shortly afterwards and had to sit out last Sunday’s game against Philadelphia.

Nicks is the third Bucs player to contract MRSA, joining former kicker Lawrence Tynes and rookie cornerback Johnthan Banks. Banks was cleared to play last week after an independent doctor ruled he could not infect other players.
It’s uncertain how long Nicks will be out, but one report said he would be back next month.  The Bucs are shuffling their offensive line. Ted Larsen replaced him at left guard last game.

At practice on Wednesday, the Bucs had Jeremy Zuttah at left guard with Larsen at center and Gabe Carimi at the other guard. Two time Pro Bowl selection Davin Joseph, who missed all of last season, is listed day to day because of a sore knee.






Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Donald Penn defends Freeman and now blames media

Donald Penn, the Tampa Bay Bucs well respected offensive lineman, has accused people of trying to bring down quarterback Josh Freeman.

But Penn never said what everyone wanted to hear: Who is "they?"

That was in the morning. Later in the day Penn named the enemy and wouldn't you know it was the media.

“The media. The Media. The Media. The Media. Y’all,” Penn said. “Y’all are all trying to find any way to tarnish his character and make it sound like he is not a good guy, like he is not a good person, like this is all his fault," Penn said.

Its ironic because Freeman never blamed the media. He said the damaging information was coming from inside One Buc Place.

Donald Penn defends Freeman off the field
Since Freeman was benched last week numerous reports have come out painting him as an irresponsible malcontent. It was revealed that he was in stage 1 of the NFL's substance abuse program and has missed team meetings and functions.

"It’s like they’re really trying to bring him down and Josh is a great guy. Josh is a very humble spirit. He’s a very good guy. He’s a very good person and he really cares about him teammates and cares about his team.” Penn said.

Throughout this whole ordeal Penn said Freeman has never said anything bad about any of his teammates and even helped rookie Mike Glennon, his replacement at quarterback.

"Josh has not said one negative thing since all this happened and I talk to Josh all the time. It’s just a tough time right now. We’re getting through it. We’re sticking together," Penn said.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Bucs de-activate Freeman; he won't be on the field for game.

Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman has been de-activated for today's game against Arizona and ordered off the sidelines. He will watch the game from a suite if he decides to show up.

It was the decision of Bucs head coach Greg Schiano to bench Freeman and it seems he is behind the de-activation. The last thing he would want is for starting quarterback Mike Glennon to struggle badly or get hurt and then have to go back to Freeman.

The drama hasn't let for the Bucs since training camp.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Bucs Carimi will start for Carl Nicks

Gabe Carimi will start for Carl Nicks; also on inactive list for Bucs are: Orlovsky, Melvin, Lorig, Crabtree, Gholston and Jones 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Former Taggart players have good day

 Willie Taggart had a rough debut as new head football coach of USF, but his former team Western Kentucky and players he recruited there from Manatee County had a big day. 
Former Manatee High running back Leon Allen gained 92 yards on 10 carries in WKU's 35-27 victory over Kentucky Saturday.  
Willie McNeal from Braden River caught six passes for 57 yards and defensive back Jon Dowling from Southeast preserved the victory with a forced fumble late the game. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Austin Reiter likes the job Willie Taggart is doing at USF

Bulls Austin Reiter praises coach Taggart

USF center and Lakewood Ranch product Austin Reiter says he likes the energy the new coaching staff under Willie Taggart brings to the program.
"They want to win games, that's the whole mantra they have and that's what we want to do," Reiter says. "The camaraderie on the team is a lot better. Every coach wants to win, but coach Taggart has fun with it. The music we have in practice that really helps."
Reiter started all 12 games for USF last season and is on the Rimington Trophy Watch List that goes to the top center in college football.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Mike Galati becomes third offensive lineman to commit to USF

Mike Galati was out fishing last weekend when he got the word that USF head football coach Willie Taggart offered him a scholarship.

It was the one the Manatee High offensive lineman had been waiting for, but when he returned from his fishing trip he couldn’t get a hold of Taggart.

To the relief of the 6-3, 280 pounder, the two finally hooked up Thursday and he was able to give Taggart a verbal non-binding offer he doesn’t see changing.

“I’ve been wanting to commit all week. When we finally talked I was so happy and so was coach Taggart,” Galati said. “He welcomed me into the family. They have always been my number one choice for a lot reasons. They are only an hour away so my family can go to all the games and I like coaching staff.

“I first met coach Taggart on junior day at USF and he is such an exciting person.  I like the offense he runs and his style of running a program and the way he talks about his program.”

Galati is the third offensive linemen in the class of 2014 that has committed to USF. He will be going into his third year as a starter at Manatee and said he expects to play tackle. He played guard last year and tight-end as a sophomore.

 When he arrives at USF for the 2014 season he will join another Manatee County offensive lineman in Bulls center Austin Reiter, who is a graduate of Lakewood Ranch.

Galati’s main recruiter is Ray Woodie, the former head coach at his alma mater Palmetto and previously at Bayshore. Taggart is a Manatee High legend who went on to set a slew of records at Western Kentucky where he started for four years.



Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Bad day for Bucs; Adrian Clayborn suffers injury in practice

No matter how you look at the Tampa Bay Bucs practice Wednesday it couldn't be considered a good day.

The deal breaker on this steamy hot day was a groin injury to defensive end Adrian Clayborn, who is carrying the hopes of a Bucs pass rush that really never got there last year and tied for 29th in sacks.

"Today Adrian Clayborn injured his groin.  He couldn’t practice the rest of day and that's not a good sign. He is incredibly frustrated," Bucs head coach Greg Schiano lamented after practice.

This is a huge blow for a pass rush that bordered on anemic last year. The Bucs first round pick in 2011, Clayborn played in only three games last year and is coming off surgery after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee. To make things worse, the Bucs allowed defensive end Michael Bennett, last year's sack leader (9), to leave via free agency.

In his 19 career games with the Bucs, Clayborn has 28 solo tackles and14 assists. He led the Bucs in 2011 with 7.5 sacks.

 Clayborn was hurt last year in a game against Dallas when he got tangled up with Gerald McCoy. He suffered his injury today doing individual drills. Schiano said he wasn't sure about the severity of the injury, but didn't sound optimistic.


Friday, July 19, 2013

Bucs trade cornerback Eric Wright to San Francisco 49ers

In what might be a surprise to some, the Tampa Bay Bucs announced late today they have traded troubled cornerback Eric Wright to the San Francisco 49ers for a 2014 conditional draft pick.

Wright had gotten himself into quite a bit of trouble since the Bucs acquired him last March and was suspended for four games at the end of last season for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.

However the Bucs were able to restructure his five year $38 million contract at a vastly reduced rate because of his suspension to $1.5 million (one year) and with them being so thin at cornerback it seemed likely Wright would stay.

It now figures that rookie Johnthan Banks will start at one CB position opposite free agent acquisition Darrelle Revis.

Wright was arrested last Friday (June 12th) in Los Angeles for suspicion of driving under the influence.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Is Florida to blame for not reeling in Aaron Hernandez before it was too late?

The misdeeds of Aaron Hernandez has stirred up a lot of controversy with some wanting to point fingers at who is indirectly responsible for not saving him from himself before it was too late.

Of course the University of Florida football program under then coach Urban Meyer has become a target. But is that fair or not?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

NFL exceeds last June's arrest total with Hernandez bringing this month's total to 5

As reported in a column last weekend, the number of NFL arrests hits high gear from the end of minicamps in June to the open of pre-season camps in late July.

Well this "arrest season" really kicked into high gear this week with the arrest of New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez today in connection with a murder investigation.

Hernandez arrest followed the arrest Tuesday of Cleveland Browns rookie linebacker Ausar Walcot (from the University of Virginia) on an attempted murder charge after he allegedly punched a man outside a bar in New Jersey. The Record (New Jersey) reported the victim remains in critical condition.

In the month of June there have now been five reported arrests of NFL players, which surpasses the four NFL players arrested in June of last year.

This could be a bad omen because the big month for NFL arrests is July. There were 11 reported arrests of NFL players in July of 2012, which was the highest monthly total of the year.

The three other NFL players reportedly arrested this month are: Cincinnati Bengals DB Adam Pacman Jones for assault; Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle Jason Peters for drag racing and resisting by flight and Baltimore Ravens running back Damien Berry for failure to appear in court on a driving with a suspended license charge.


Sunday, June 23, 2013

NFL arrests figure to go up, which means receivers like Aaron Hernandez are in peril

NFL training camps open next month, but the arrest season is swinging into high gear, which means coaches are spending a lot of nights hoping not to get one of those late night phone calls.

Receivers lead in arrests
For receivers, who top the NFL's arrest list, it's a time to avoid police blotters the same way they try to avoid defensive backs.

It might be too late to reel in Aaron Hernandez, but others should hire a team of psychologists and body guards.

Good luck to all and to those prone to attract trouble it's probably a good idea not to venture outside the house after midnight.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Johnny "Football" Manziel at 40; What is the real reason for this photo?

What was the NCAA thinking with this photo of Johnny "Football" Manziel on its 2014 video game.
Is the Ed O'Bannon lawsuit forcing college sports' governing body to take extreme measures in arguing athletes shouldn't get paid for using their likeness in video games.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Taggart/USF gets verbal commitment from Miami Jackson standout Quinton Flowers

Willie Taggart's knack for being a top notch recruiter was validated again Friday when it was reported that Miami Jackson standout quarterback Quinton Flowers has committed to the USF football team.

Listed as an athlete who will play quarterback or receiver at the next level, Flowers is a four star recruit on several publications and reportedly has offers from Alabama, Texas, Nebraska,Tennessee, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Syracuse, Mississippi and Mississippi State among others.

The 6-0, 210 pounder reportedly committed to the Bulls after attending one of USF's satellite camps Friday in Miami. rates Flowers the nation's 10th best receiver while 247 has him as the 9th best dual threat quarterback in the country.

It has been reported that USF assistant coach BTelly Lockett, former head coach of Miami Central, played a key role in corralling Flowers, but you can't discount the influence of Bulls head coach Taggart. .

Flowers has said he wanted to go to a school that would give him a chance to play quarterback. Taggart has made that promise and Flowers just might fit the mold of the dual threat quarterback that Taggart was at Manatee High and Western Kentucky.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Lakewood Ranch athletic duo commits to Hiram College for next season

Lakewood Ranch standouts Chaz Grady (basketball) and KiJana Brown (football) have committed to play for Hiram College next season.

A Division III school in Ohio, Hiram is not allowed to give athletic scholarships, but both athletes received a hefty financial aid package due in part to their high academic achievements and athletic abilities.

A 6-1 combo guard, Grady averaged 11.6 points and 6.4 rebounds per game last season chipping in with 2.5 assists and 4 steals per game. He was a Bradenton Herald first team All-Area choice as a junior.

Brown is expected to play cornerback. He was touted as one of the best defensive backs in the area because of his athleticism and speed.

USF makes impressive showing with APR scores

The University of South Florida continued to show progress in the NCAA’s most recent edition of the Academic Progress Rate (APR) report released this week.

It was highlighted by three programs earning special recognition and nine teams posting perfect annual scores of 1,000.

The football program produced the best four-year improvement by a BCS school and men’s basketball had the fourth-best, four-year jump out of the power six conferences. The 2013 APR report consists of multi-year data from 2008-09 through 2011-12.
“We’ve been extremely happy with the progress we’ve made in the APR over the last few years and that success has continued in the most recent report,” said Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Doug Woolard. “Our coaches and student-services department have continued to stress the importance of being strong academically and our student-athletes have done a tremendous job committing themselves to academic excellence, which has produced these stellar results.”

Friday, May 24, 2013

Vitale Gala reaches $1.7 million mark but donations still coming in

The Dick Vitale Gala raised $1.7 million this year at its annual event to raise money for pediatric cancer research, but Dickie V. says people are still contributing and the number could go higher.

Vitale said the Gala raised $2.1 million last year thanks to an anonymous donor who gave $500,000 after the Gala was over. This year he is hoping to reach that $2 million mark again.

"Things have been great. We've raised $10.3 million since we started this eight years ago. It's awesome," Vitale said. "We've had great responses from the coaches and many of the people who were there. Many said it was the best event they've ever attended and it certainly is for a good cause."

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Willie Taggart/USF get new quarterback for next season

The quarterback situation for the University of South Florida and head coach Willie Taggart just got a lot more competitive and perhaps better.

Penn State quarterback Steven Bench announced on his twitter Thursday that he is transferring to USF. He will be eligible to play immediately because of the sanctions the NCAA has leveled on PSU in the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

Bench, who played behind Matt McGloin last season completing two of eight passes for 12 yards, will have three years of eligibility. He was considering North Carolina State and Mississippi State, but decided to forego visits to those two schools after visiting USF this week.

The 6-2, 225 pound Bench appeared to have a good spring game for the Nittany Lions completing 9 of 15 passes for 99 yards and a 27 yard touchdown. However, it was reported that he was behind junior college transfer Tyler Ferguson.

Bench was a three star recruit out of Cairo High School (2012) in Georgia. He originally committed to Rice and then switched to Penn State. He reportedly had a 3.86 GPA.

Bench will be competing against Matt Floyd and Bobby Eveld for the Bulls quarterback job. After the Bulls spring game, Taggart said he had not decided on his quarterback.







Friday, May 10, 2013

Lakewood Ranch looks confident

Lakewood Ranch looks confident in warmups though head coach Tony Cummins showing signs of worry here in class 6A state softball semifinal at Vero Beach; reports of bad weather circulating this could be a long day

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Warren Sapp will join Bucs Ring of Honor and have number retired

The Tampa Bay Bucs announced today that Warren Sapp would become the fifth member of the team’s highly prestigious Ring of Honor.

Sapp follows Hall of Famer Lee Roy Selmon, former head coach John McKay, tight end Jimmie Giles and long time left tackle Paul Gruber.

Sapp was selected in the first round (12th player overall) by Tampa Bay in 1996 and was named to the All-Rookie Team. During his career Sapp amassed 96.5 career sacks
The defensive tackle became a first ballot NFL Hall of Famer last February and will be inducted into the HOF on August 3d in Canton, Ohio. He will also have his famous number 99 retired when the Bucs play host to the Miami Dolphins in a Monday night game next season.

Sapp was an NFL All Decade Player for the 1990s and 2000s and seven time Pro Bowl selectee. He ranks second in the NFL for defensive tackles.


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Braden River looking at retiring Courtney Mirabella's number; girl who hit homer was 0 for 13 against her

There is serious talk that Braden River High will retire Courtney Mirabella's number. An announcement that her #3 will go up in the gym rafters could be forthcoming soon.

The flame throwing senior softball pitcher set a bevy of school records with her arm that very well could stand the test of time. She gave the Pirates a four year run that was the best in the history of the program.

By the way Alysaa Price, the Sarasota sophomore who hit the homer off a 3-2 pitch with two outs in the top of the seventh to send Tuesday night's region semifinal into extra innings, was 0 for 13 against Mirabella.

It led to the Sailors 2-1 upset. Sarasota had lost three times to Braden River, but all the games were close. 1-0, 2-0 and 4-2.

Mirabella finished her season with 288 strikeouts in 146.2 innings while compiling a 16-4 record with a 0.24 ERA. She hit an even .300 and was second on the team with 14 RBIs.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Ace Sanders goes to Jacksonville in fourth round

When he was debating whether to come out for this year’s draft Ace Sanders was informed by the NFL Draft Advisory Committee that he would likely be a fourth round pick.

The prediction turned out to be accurate Saturday when the South Carolina receiver/punt returner, who began his career at Manatee High, was the fourth player selected in the fourth round by the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Jaguars traded the number one selection in the fourth round (98th overall pick) to the Philadelphia Eagles for the 101st pick and used it to choose Sanders.

The 5-8, 175 pounder was the SEC Co-Special Teams Player of the Year in the SEC last season and first team All-SEC punt return specialist.

Sanders was second in the nation last year in the FBS in total punt return yardage with 429 yards and ranked fourth with 15.32 yards per return. He led the Gamecocks with 45 receptions and nine receiving touchdowns and was second in receiving yards.

Ace’s dad Tracy Sanders went undrafted out of Florida State, but signed with the Buffalo Bills. An injury jettisoned his NFL career, but he had a successful pro career in the Arena Football League with the Tampa Bay Storm.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Trevon Young earns All-State basketball honors

Trevon after signing with Florida
Trevon Young, Braden River’s basketball star turned Florida Gators football signee, has been named to the All-State boys basketball team announced by the Florida Association of Basketball Coaches and Source Hoops.
The 6-6 Young, who finished his career with more than 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds, was selected to the Class 7A third team. He is the first player from Braden River to earn all-state basketball honors.
Young finished his career with 1,465 points and 1,121 rebounds. Last season he averaged a double-double for the second year in a year putting up 17 points and 12 rebounds per game. He also averaged 1.5 blocks.

Southeast quarterback Braxton-Johnson headed for Georgetown

Southeast quarterback Myles Braxton-Johnson announced he will play for Georgetown University on Wednesday.

Braxton-Johnson will move to slot receiver for Georgetown, an FCS school (formerly I-AA), which plays football in the Patriot League along with Bucknell, Colgate, Fordham, Lafayette, Lehigh and Holy Cross.
The Hoyas were 5-6 overall and 2-3 in league play last season. The 2013 season includes two games against Ivy League teams. They will travel to Brown on September 21st and play host to Princeton on Sept 28th.

 “I am going there as an athlete, but I am going to play the slot,” Braxton-Johnson said. “It’s the best spot for me to get on the field and the coaches said they wanted a slot receiver who had experience playing quarterback. I think my background as a quarterback will help.”

 The 5-11, 185 pound Braxton-Johnson was born in Silver Springs, Maryland, which is less than an hour away from Georgetown and he has always been a fan of the Hoyas. He moved to Florida in the fourth grade.

A top level student with a 4.4 weighted GPA, Braxton-Johnson said he will major in pre-med and hopes to become a doctor. He said a combination of scholarships he has received will pay for his costs.

Braxton-Johnson has a lot of a good memories from his successful career at Southeast where he showed himself to be a cerebral quarterback who was not afraid to run the ball into heavy traffic. He started the past two years and was a backup as a sophomore.

“My fondest memory from Southeast is wining the district title last season at Palmetto. It was huge game for Southeast and for me,” he said.











Friday, April 19, 2013

USF football team signs pact to take on Wisconsin and Maryland

TAMPA – University of South Florida football fans have expressed concern that the Bulls future schedules were a little bare of quality opponents.

Those skeptics got a measure of relief Friday when it was announced that USF would play home and home series with Wisconsin and Maryland.

USF will visit Wisconsin, who has appeared in three consecutive Rose Bowls, on Sept. 27, 2014 with the Badgers making a return trip to Tampa on Sept. 16, 2017. The Bulls will host Maryland on Sept. 6, 2014 and travel to play the Terps on Sept. 19, 2015.

The 2014 non-conference schedule consists of home games against Western Carolina (Aug. 30), Maryland (Sept. 6) and N.C. State (Sept. 13) along with the trip to Wisconsin (Sept. 27).
“This is the type of schedule we want to have here at USF,” said head coach Willie Taggart. “We want to challenge and prove ourselves against top competition. We think it is important to play these types of non-conference games not only for recruiting, but also to excite our fan base and for the continued growth of our program.” 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Antonio Blakeney earns first team All-State honors

Cardinal Mooney basketball standout Antonio Blakeney has been named to the Class 3A All-State first team selected by the Florida Association of Basketball Coaches (FABC) and

The sophomore averaged 24.8 points and 7.6 rebounds in earning Bradenton Herald Player of The Year honors for the 2012-13 season and leading the Cougars to the region final.

The 6-4 sophomore has scored 1,036 points for his career and is on track to break the school single season record of 2,096 points set by Mick Jordan in 1998.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Poole could be starter at safety after big spring game

Brian Poole should head into the summer feeling good about himself and his chances to get a lot of playing time next season for Florida.

 Playing safety and cornerback in Florida’s version of its spring football game, Poole made the biggest impact among all the defensive backs.

 The Southeast High product, who will be a sophomore next season, recorded two sacks off safety blitzes and picked up a fumbled bad snap for what would’ve been a touchdown in game circumstances.

Poole is being used at cornerback and safety, but figures to see more time at the latter position because of his physical attributes and Florida’s needs. Defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin showered him with praise on more than one occasion.

Poole figures to be one of the starters at safety along with Cody Riggs. Some members of the coaching staff are predicting he can be in the same class as last year’s starting safety Matt Elam, who left early and figures to be an NFL first round draft pick this month.

In his senior year at Southeast, Poole was rated the number two cornerback in the country and the 25th best player in the country. He has the speed to play corner, but coaches like him at safety because of his size (5-10, 210 pounds) and toughness.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Braden River gets no-hit in Sarasota Baseball Classic

Trae Ratliff threw a no-hitter and allowed only one base runner (via a walk) to lead Hernando County to a 5-0 victory over Braden River, Monday night in an opening round game of the Sarasota Baseball Classic.

The game was originally scheduled for a 7:30 start at the Buck O'Neil Complex, but lighting knocked out the power at the field and there were no lights. The game was swtiched to Sarasota High.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Rodgers-Cromartie preferred one year deal

Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie says he preferred a one year contract with Broncos because he is out to prove a lot of  people wrong and Denver promised long term deal with more money if he has big 2013 season.

The Lakewood Ranch product said he was real impressed with Denver's head guy John Elway and sees this as perfect match. He cancelled scheduled trip to visit Indianapolis Colts, who were courting him..

Mirabella strikes out 20; misses perfect game in last inning

Courtney Mirabella stuck out 20 and just missed a perfect game allowing only one –hit to lead Braden River to a 1-0 victory over Texas Ridge Point Thursday in opening round play of the Sarasota Spring Break Softball Tournament at Sarasota High.

The only hit off Mirabella was a bloop single with one out in the seventh inning. She had struck out 18 of the 19 batters she faced until that point.   

Freshman Bethaney Keen doubled in the third to drive in the Pirates run. Ashley Allard, who reached on a walk, scored on the play. The only other hit for Braden River was first inning single by Brittany Cole.

Mirabella (7-1) now has 130 strikeouts in 59 innings.



Monday, March 4, 2013

Today is 20th anniversary of Jim Valvano's famous "Don't Ever Give Up" speech

March 4th commemorates the 20th anniversary of Jim Valvano's memorable ESPY speech in which he announced that with ESPN, he would be forming The V Foundation for Cancer Research.

The Foundation kick-offs its 20 year anniversary this year and the money it has funded through donations have helped enormously in the battle against cancer that Dick Vitale has spearheaded.
The V Foundation has contributed to the fight against cancer with made many grants and donations. One significant example is a recent breakthrough by Dr. Reuben Harris and Dr. Douglass Yee of the University of Minnesota Masonic Cancer Center.

Their work with others over the years has led to the discovery of an enzyme that is believed to be the probable source of many genetic mutations in breast cancer. If scientists can find a way to block this enzyme, it may slow or stop the cancer from growling, researchers say.
The discovery, reported last month in the prestigious journal Nature, could pave the way for better ways of diagnosing and treating the disease, said Harris, who led the research.

The researchers found an enzyme called APOBEC3B that they say is the "probable source" of DNA mutations that are found in the majority of breast cancer cases.
"Mutations cause cancer. The enzyme appears to act like a 'genetic fuel,' causing cells to mutate and turn cancerous,” Harris said in announcing his findings to media outlets.

f an enzyme (A3B for short) that is the probable source of many genetic mutations in breast cancer. If scientists can find a way to block this enzyme, it may slow or stop

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Could Mike Jenkins be headed to San Fran or Tampa?

Mike Jenkins appears to be ready to leave the Dallas and the Cowboys seem to be accommodating. The question is where will the Southeast High product wind up.

Jenkins, who earned All-American honors at cornerback for USF, is an unrestricted free agent. He has had to battle injuries the last couple of years and was not happy that prior to last season Dallas owner Jerry Jones drafted CB Morris Claiborne and signed free agent CB Brandon Carr to a $50.1 million deal.
Mike Jenkins
The 27 year-old lost his starting job to Claiborne, but then Jenkins wound up starting at the slot corner when Orlando Scandrick injured his hand.

Jenkins reportedly angered Dallas when he did his off season rehab from shoulder surgery in Florida and didn’t attend voluntary workouts with the Cowboys though he was at all the mandatory sessions.

 “Do I want to come back? I’ve been here for five years, I’ve grown attached to everybody here. It’s hard to just get up and leave and not want to come back. At the same time, you want to go somewhere and have a fair opportunity and I guess I go on from there,” Jenkins told

One possible destination could be Tampa. Bucs head coach Greg Schiano knows Jenkins from his best days when he played against Schiano’s Rutgers teams.

The Bucs are in dire need of cornerbacks and at worse Jenkins has never gotten in trouble ala Tampa’s troubled cornerback Eric Wright, who has been dodging the law since his days at USC.

But another destination could be San Francisco. Jim Leavitt, who was the USF head coach when Jenkins played there, is the linebackers coach for the 49ers. He has always had nothing but good things to say about Jenkins and has considered one of his best all time recruits.







Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Marquel Blackwell back at USF to work under Taggart

Marquel Blackwell, who many believe to be the best quarterback in USF history, is returning to the Bulls to work under head coach Willie Taggart.
Blackwell was a four-year standout quarterback for USF from 1999-2002 when the program made the leap to I-AA under then head coach Jim Leavitt
Marquel Blackwell

The St. Petersburg Dixie Hollins product holds most of the USF career passing records, including touchdowns (67), completions (795), attempts (1,417) and passing yards (9,108) and ranks ninth in career rushing yards (1,235) and fifth in rushing touchdowns (20).

Blackwell served on the Bulls’ coaching staff as a program assistant from 2009-11 and spent last season as a graduate assistant at Western Kentucky under coach Taggart. Prior to his first stint on the USF coaching staff, Blackwell served as the head football coach at Freedom High School in Tampa from 2007-08. He will serve as Director of Player Development.

Taggart has also hired Paul Gonnella
, who will serve as the staff’s Director of Player Personnel. Gonnella spent the 2012 season as director of player personnel at Alabama, helping the Crimson Tide sign the nation’s top class. He had the same role at Purdue in 2011 and at Memphis in 2010.

Gonnella has also spent time at Miami, Tennessee and North Carolina in similar roles and capacities .A native of Wakefield, Mass., Gonnella began his career as a coach and has worked with high schools in his home state as well as in Georgia.

 Taggart has also moved coach Stu Holt to special teams coordinator. Taggart also announced he was moving Stu Holt into the special-teams coordinator.

Holt has worked with special teams on numerous occasions throughout his coaching career, including stints as the special-teams coordinator at Western Kentucky in 2005 and ’09. In 2005, he helped the Hilltoppers rank fourth in the nation in punt returns.

He helped place-kicker Chris James earn first-team All-Star and all-Gateway honors, after pacing the league with 1.36 field goals and 7.91 points per contest. In addition, Dennis Mitchell was a second-team all-conference choice as a return specialist after finishing sixth nationally in yards per punt return.

In 2009, Holt coached four players that ranked in the top five of Sun Belt Conference statistical categories, including Jeremy Moore and Bobby Rainey, who led the league in punting and all-purpose yardage, respectively. The Hilltoppers kickoff return unit also ranked second in the league.


Ray Woodie might have bigger recruiting role with USF

Ray Woodie has been Willie Taggart’s right hand man ever since Taggart hired him as an assistant coach at Western Kentucky.
The Manatee County products have formed quite a tandem with Woodie named the top recruiter in his first year at Western Kentucky and just recently cited to be among the best recruiters in the Big East Conference despite only a few months on the job at USF.

Ray Woodie top recruiter
But Taggart might need more out of Woodie following the recent resignation of Larry Scott, who left USF to become an assistant with Miami this week.

Scott had been with USF since the Jim Leavitt days and had a solid beat on the Miami area. He agreed to take the Miami position after Hurricanes assistant Mario Cristobal (the fired FIU coach) left for Alabama.

 The only holdover from the Skip Holtz era, Scott was noted for recruiting some of the top players out of the Miami area, including this year’s four star signee, defensive back Lamar Robbins.

Now Scott is gone and it might mean more work for Woodie. The Palmetto native is solid on recruiting the Manatee-Sarasota-Charlotte County corridor and Tampa Bay area and is not adverse to increasing his territory.




Thursday, February 7, 2013

Trevon Young will sign with Florida on Friday according to Braden River head coach

Trevon Young will sign  a scholarship to play football at the University of Florida on Friday morning, Pirates head football coach Curt Bradley said.

Young was a late addtion to the Florida recruiting class of 2013. Gators head coach Will Muschamp brought him up to Gainesville last weekend and offered him a scholarship, prefereably to play tight end.

The 6-6, 260 pound Young was also being pursued by USF and had offers from Purdue, Missouri, FIU and FAU. But the hold up was a basketball scholarship offer he had to play for Division II Eckered College.

The career scoring and rebounding leadert for Braden River, Young said earlier in the week he was torn between playing basketball and football for the Gators. Then USF garnered his interest and with all the uncertainty he did not sign on Wednesday's national signing day.

The three star prospect did not play football until his junior year. But several college coaches have said he has NFL potential as a tight end because of his size and athleticism he showed in basketball.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

@gatorzone @bradentonherald tight end #TravonYoung from #BradenRiver says he will likely sign with #Florida on Thursday

Monday, January 28, 2013

Taggart reels in another highly touted prospect for USF

Willie Taggart and the USF football program had a bonanza of weekend.

The Bulls head coach picked up his second four-star verbal commitment in a week Sunday when Miami Southridge cornerback Lamar Robbins announced he would sign with USF.

Robbins is a highly sought after commodity, particularly at conerback where he can use his 6-3, 188 pound frame to cover tall receivers and has the size to more than hold his own in the tackling department. He had visited and received offers from Oklahoma, West Virginia, Lousville and Purdue.

It was the Bulls second four star recruit to commit. Taggart, the Manatee High legend, last week convinced Hurricanes four star defensive tackle Derrick Colloway to committ to USF after he had  pledged to Louisville.

Taggart, who took over the program in December, has now garnered both of USF's four star recruits.

Rivals currently has USF's 2013 recruiting class ranked third in the Big East, but the Bulls are only a few points behind second place Rutgers and could surpass the Knights when signing day concludes on February 6th. They could also pass number one Pittsburgh.

Robbins is a welcome addition for a Bulls secondary that allowed 252 yards passing per game last season and had only two inteceptions.

This past weekend, the Bulls also received a verbal commttment from running back Stafon McCray, a 5-11, 196 pound three star recruit from Kissimmee Osecola.

The running back rushed for more than 1,700 yards and scored 25 touchdowns in leading his team to a 13-1 record last season and has amasssed more then 3,200 rushing yards and 45 touchdowns the past two seasons.

Friday, January 25, 2013

On the road back, Dylan Lee signs baseball scholarship after football injury

When the school year began Dylan Lee was set on turning his senior year of baseball into a season that would bring him a Division I scholarship.

The Braden River first baseman/outfielder had put together an impressive career and finished his junior season with a .444 batting average that included a .549 on base percentatege, five triples and two homers and 11 doubles. He holds the school career record for homers with seven and will be one of all time leaders in hits when he walks through the graduation line.

Lee felt so good about baseball being the spring board to his dreams he decided to give up football to avoid an injury problems.

About a week before the season after talking with the football coaches at Braden River, the 6-1, 210 Lee changed his plans and came out for football. He had been an oustanding defensive lineman for the Pirates prior to his senior year.

His worst fears hit him almost immediately. In the pre-season game against Booker he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. He had surgery in September and is still undergoing rehab.

Despite the injury, Lee said he has no regrets about playing football.

"I wasn't going to play, but I missed it and decided to play," Lee said. "I have no regrets. I am going to DH at the beginning of the season hopefully for no more than about five games. When I got hurt the doctor said I wouldn't be able to play baseball, but I am able to play."

Those colleges who were looking at him as a baseball prospect said they wanted to take and wait and see attitude according to his father Ian Lee.

St. Johns River State College, a two year school for baseball in Palatka, stuck by him and said he had a standing offer. Lee liked the loyalty shown by the coaches and on Thursday signed  a scholarship The school that plays in the state junior college athletic association formerly known as the Florida College System Activities Association (FCSAA).

"Even though the coach there knew he was hurt they offered and we appreciated that. It's a full deal with books and tuition," Ian Lee said. "The (Braden River) coaches talked Dylan into playing and then wouldn't you know it he gets hurt the first freaking game. I knew it was going to happen. He is about 85 percent healthy right now."

Friday, January 11, 2013

Tampa Bucs DB coach Ron Cooper joins Taggart at USF

Ron Cooper has left the Tampa Bay Bucs to become Willie Taggart's assistant head coach at the University of South Florida.

Cooper will also coach the USF defensive backs. He was the defensive backs coach for Tampa this past season and served in the same capacity at LSU three years prior. In 2011 he coached Morris Claiborne, the first cornerback selected in last year's NFL draft.

Cooper brings 30 years of coaching experience including two different stints as a defensive coordinator and three as a head coach on the collegiate level.

“Ron Cooper is a valuable addition to our staff,” Taggart said. “His experience will be a huge asset in his role as assistant head coach. In addition, he has recently worked with some of the top secondaries and defensive backs in college football, which will serve us greatly both on the field and in recruiting.”

Cooper spent three seasons (2009-11) as LSU’s secondary coach. Under his tutelage Claiborne and fellow cornerback Patrick Peterson won the Thorpe Award, which goes to best defensive back in college football. Those two along with Tyrann Mathieu were consensus All-Americans 
In 2011, Claiborne (Coaches) and Mathieu (AP) each earned SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors.  Peterson earned SEC Defensive Player of the Year in 2010 before being selected fifth overall in the '10 NFL Draft.
 Cooper was head coach of Louisville ('95-'97). His '95 team led the nation in takeaways and finished No. 9 in the nation in scoring defense. The following season, the Cardinals ranked No. 4 in the country in both total defense and rushing defense.
The Tampa Bay Bucs ranked  last in pass defense in 2012. It was beset with injuries and its two top cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Eric Wright were suspended for four games each because they violated the league's substance abuse policies. Talib was subsequently traded and Wright is not expected to return next season. Their fill-ins were mostly undrafted free agents and late round draft choices that were considered well below NFL standards for cornerbacks.
Cooper earned his bachelor's degree from Jacksonville State in 1983 and later received his master's degree from Appalachian State in 1986. He and his wife, Djuna, have a daughter, Tyler, and two sons, Tristan and Ronald, Jr.

Coaching Experience
1983: Appalachian State (Graduate Assistant)
1984: Minnesota (Graduate Assistant)
1985-86: Austin Peay (Assistant Coach)
1987-88: Murray State (Defensive Coordinator)
1989: East Carolina (Assistant Coach)
1990: UNLV (Defensive Coordinator)
1991-92: Notre Dame (Assistant Head Coach)
1993-94: Eastern Michigan (Head Coach)
1995-97: Louisville (Head Coach)
1998-2001: Alabama A&M (Head Coach)
2002: Wisconsin (Assistant Coach)
2003: Mississippi State (Defensive Coordinator)
2004: South Carolina (Defensive Backs)
2005: South Carolina (Outside Linebackers/Special Teams Coordinator)
2006-07: South Carolina (Assistant Head Coach/Secondary)
2008: South Carolina (Safeties)
2009-11: LSU (Secondary)
2012: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Defensive Backs)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Manasota Hoops Classic tips off Saturday at Lakewood Ranch

The second annual Manasota Basketball Classic will be held Saturday at Lakewood Ranch High School. It’s the 23d year Manatee and Sarasota County teams will compete in the event that originally began as the Sarasota County Youth Foundation Classic. Action tips off at 11 am with the Bayshore girls facing Sarasota Christian girls. The final game pits Braden River boys against the Riverview boys.

Taggart hires successful NFL coach as his defensive coordinator at USF

The Willie Taggart-Jim Harbaugh connection helped the new USF head football coach secure a defensive coordinator who has known much success in the NFL.

Chuck Bresnahan is the Bulls new defesnsive coordinator, Taggart announced on Wednesday. The 52 year-old was defensive coordinator for the Oakland Raiders from 2000-03 holding that position when the team reached Super Bowl XXXVII.

Bresnahan also served as defensive coordinator for Cincinnati for three years helping the Bengals capture their first division title in 17 years in 2006. He went to Cincinnati after six successful seasons with Oakland. The Raiders won three straight AFC Western Division titles and played in a Super Bowl with Bresnahan as defensive coordinator.

Taggart has stressed he is always looking for good leadership skills in his coaches and with his experience as a player at the Naval Academy Bresnaham seems to fill that requirement. He was a three year letterman for the Midshpimen where he helped Navy win three Commander-in-Chief Trophies, played in two bowl games and then became a commissioned officer.

Bresnahan has some good football lineage. His father Tom, served in the NFL for 17 years as an offensive line coach and was a member of Marv Levy's Buffalo Bills staff that went to four consecutive Super Bowls.

"I couldn't be more excited about the talent and experience we've added to our defensive staff," Taggart said. "Chuck has coached at  the highest levels and will bring a wealth of knowledge on the defensive side of the ball. His ability to teach the game and mentor our players will be an asset to this football team and I know he'll be a terffic recruiter."

It was through San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh that Taggart was able to connect with Bresnahan.

Harbaugh,who has been a mentor to Taggart, was Oakland's quarterback coach two of the years that Bresnahan served as the Raiders defensive coordinator. They were also together in 1996-97 when Harbaugh was the Indianapolis Colts quarterback and Bresnaham coached the linebackers there.



Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Southeast girls; Cardinal Mooney boys earn top 10 rankings

The Southeast High girls and Cardinal Mooney boys were the only area teams to earn a spot in the top 10 of their respective classes in the latest FABC-Source Hoops poll released on Tuesday.

Southeast (13-3) is ranked eighth in the Class 5A poll, but getting out of the district is going to be a tough task even for a team as talented as the Seminoles.

Three teams from 5A-12 are ranked in the top 10 in the 5A poll. Along with Southeast, St. Petersburg Lakewood (13-3) is fifth  and Gulfport Boca Ciega (13-5) is ninth.

Southeast defeated Boca Ciegao 55-40 earlier in the year. The Seminoles losses are to state ranked teams: 52-47 to Lakewood; 76-60 to Ft. Myers Dunbar, ranked third in 3A and 58-52 to Leesburg, (#8 in 6A).

Cardinal Mooney (14-1) is ranked 8th in Class 3A. The Cougars have some impressive notches on their belt with victories over Fort Myers (#8 in 6A), Tampa Sickles (#10 in 6A) and Miami Carol City, which is 10th in 8A.

Cardinal Mooney looks to have a good chance of making it out of its region. The Cougars are the highet ranked team in Class 3A-Region 3, two spots head of #10 Community School of Naples (14-3).

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Ace Sanders gets 63 yard punt return for TD in Outback Bowl

South Carolina receiver/punt returner Ace Sanders said he wanted to put on a show for home folks in Outback Bowl.

The former Manatee High standout out is on his way with a 63 yard punt return for a touchdown in first quarter against Michigan. It was his second punt return TD of the season.