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Manatee Hurricanes 2012 Year-in-Review

While the 2012 season came to a heart-breaking end, the Canes journey was one worth remembering.

The season began with sky-high expectations. As the Hurricanes proceeded to demolish opponent after opponent, state and national title aspirations began to come into view. However, as the season wore on and injuries mounted, the Hurricanes fell short in Fort Lauderdale at the state semifinals. The Hurricanes were down eight starters and struggling to find answers. The Hurricanes carried the banner of the #1 national ranking in two polls for several weeks and marked tremendous team victories and individual accomplishments along the way.

While the season finished on an unexpected note, it was one to remember.

Week 1: The Hurricanes blasted then nationally-ranked Miramar 41-6 on national TV. Junior Trevon Walters had a breakout game gaining 163 yards of offense. Senior defensive back Willie Smith had six tackles and two interceptions as the Canes established themselves as the team to beat.

Week 2: The Hurricanes traveled to Riverview and dominated their district opponent 49-7. Senior quarterback Cord Sandberg shredded the Rams for 272 yards and three touchdowns. He only threw four incompletions the entire game, while junior receiver Broderick Yancy went off for 104 yards on six catches.

Week 3: Manatee rolled up eventual Class 6A state champion Miami Central 44-34. The Hurricanes ran out to a 23-7 halftime lead before letting the Rockets back in the game a little in the fourth quarter. Walters had a massive effort gaining 233 yards of offense while Sandberg threw for 238 yards and four touchdowns. Senior Darrian Mabrey had 11 solo tackles in the effort.

Week 4: bye week

Week 5: The Canes traveled to Southeast and thumped the Seminoles 52-13. Sandberg and Walters combined for 327 yards of offense as the Canes improved to 4-0.

Week 6: Manatee traveled to district foe Braden River and blew the doors off the Pirates 56-0. The Canes were able to spread the ball around to some of their reserve players in the blowout. Three players took snaps at quarterback, nine got to carry the ball, eight caught passes, and 19 recorded tackles.

Week 7: The Canes hosted Cypress Bay in their homecoming game. The Lightning would go on to play in the Class 8A state finals but they were dropped by Manatee 42-20. Sandberg threw his first and only interception of the season in that game but rushed for 111 yards on 16 tries. Mabrey led the team with 14 tackles.

Week 8: Manatee hosted Venice and pounded the Indians 56-27 claiming the district title. Walters and junior receiver Marquel Hines went off for 269 yards of offense between the two of them. Mabrey again recorded double-digit tackles along with seniors Marquis Dawsey and Malik Brooks.

Week 9: The Canes mopped up area rival Palmetto 62-0. Manatee led 41-0 at the half and cruised to an easy victory. Walters scored a 79-yard touchdown en route to a nine carry 156-yard performance.

Week 10: The Hurricanes cleaned up district play by dispatching Sarasota 51-9. The Hurricanes honored their 1992 state championship team at that game and wrapped their undefeated district record.

Week 10: The Canes finished the regular season by punching out Lakewood Ranch 49-6 on senior night. A 35-point first quarter set the tone as the Canes gained 463 yards of offense while junior Arin Pruitt and senior John McElfresh notched double-digit tackles. It wrapped an undefeated regular season.

Regional quarterfinals: Manatee drew Northeast in the first round of the playoffs and walloped them 65-12. A 42-point first half allowed the Canes to run away with the game and spread the ball around on offense. Defensive linemen senior Marquis Dawsey and junior Demarcus Christmas both had 12 tackles and five sacks apiece.

Regional semifinals: The Hurricanes faced Venice again and the Indians fared no better, getting crushed 56-7. Freshman running back Johnnie Lang had a breakout game with 83 yards on just nine carries, with a pair of touchdowns.

Regional finals: The Canes traveled down to Fort Pierce Central where they were supposed to meet with their toughest game of the season. The Canes rolled 51-0 over the Cobras behind a monster game from Sandberg, 17 of 27 for 257 yards and five touchdowns. Walters added 146 yards on the ground with three touchdowns and senior receiver Ja Jaun Pollock added 144 yards with four touchdowns.

State semifinals: Manatee could not have been riding higher going in and could not have fallen any harder as they lost 35-18 to the St.Thomas Aquinas Raiders, who would go on to win the Class 7A state title. The Hurricanes were limited to just 66 yards rushing and played from behind most of the game; a situation they had not experienced all year. Injuries were a major problem. The Hurricanes were already without seniors Anthony Lauro and Willie Smith, they were already short-handed. Walters was injured on the opening drive and at one point the Hurricanes were down eight starters.

Sandberg finished his senior year with 2,674 yards and 34 touchdowns to just one interception. Sandberg's 70 percent completion rate was tops in the state of Florida for 2012. Walters gained more than 1,500 yards of offense and scored 20 touchdowns. Mabrey led the team in tackles with 103, and Dawsey led with 14.5 sacks.

Unseen in most stat lines were the contributions from special teamers in seniors Jonathan Hernandez and Greg Moss. Hernandez finished the season with a 41.4-yard punting average, good enough for ninth in the state, while Moss put 29 of his 57 kickoffs into the endzone for touchbacks.

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