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Florida high school football preview: Manatee at Port Charlotte

Hurricanes and Pirates meeting sets up possibly top game on the South Suncoast
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PORT CHARLOTTE, FLORIDA - One of the top high school football games on the South Suncoast takes place tonight at Port Charlotte High School. 

The Manatee Hurricanes will take on the Port Charlotte Pirates in a highly anticipated matchup that could be the top contest all season. 

Last year’s tilt between the two programs wasn’t as close as some expected it to be, with Port Charlotte pulling away 29-6. This time around, both teams are playing at a high level and is likely to be a tighter game down in Charlotte County. 

It wasn’t too long ago that the Hurricanes were down on their luck as in 2021, Manatee in Jacquez Green’s first season went 2-7. Now sitting at 4-0, the team is starting to look reminiscent of the old Hurricane teams. 

With some of the talent all over the roster, Manatee could be a viable contender in Class 4S. The Hurricanes began the season with an impressive road win, defeating Lake Minneola 46-27. 

Since then, Manatee has rolled through local competition like Sarasota, Charlotte and Braden River. The Hurricanes begin a stretch of when they face Port Charlotte, Venice (Oct. 6), Sarasota Riverview (Oct. 20) and Palmetto (Oct. 27.). 

Green’s club has gotten solid quarterback play under center from junior signal caller Andrew Heidel, who completed 53-of-88 passes for 613 yards and six touchdowns to just one interception. The backfield also includes Keishawn Smith (25 carries, 230 yards), Cory Sanders (46 carries, 199 yards) and Braden River transfer Trayvon Pinder (22 carries, 87 yards).

Heidel’s top targets are wide receivers Bonshavior Bean Jr. (11 receptions, 212 yards) and Torey Gilley (18 receptions, 129 yards). 

On defense, the Hurricanes feature one of the top units on the western coast of Florida, with linebacker Maximus Freeman (22 tackles, four for loss) and defensive lineman Ean Johnson-Kelley (six tackles for loss, three sacks). 

Port Charlotte (3-1) is riding a 3-game winning streak after opening the season with a 56-21 loss to Bishop Verot. The Pirates have defeated Charlotte, Gulf Coast and Ida Baker, all shutout victories. 

Venice transfer Eli Manley has played exceptional for the Pirates, completing 30-of-50 passes for 503 yards and seven touchdowns. Joining Manley in the backfield is running backs Ike Perry (28 carries, 229 yards) and Edd Guerrier (27 carries, 181 yards). 

South Dakota commitment Jamal Streeter is the team’s top wide receiver and has caught 16 passes for 243 yards, three touchdowns. The wide receiver tandem of brothers Justice and Cameron Becerril have combined for 270 yards, three touchdowns. 

The defensive line is the strongest suit of the defense with linemen Myron Charles (three tackles, two for loss) and Samuel Luther (seven tackles, two sacks). Sophomore linebacker Carlos Serrano leads the team with 19 tackles and five for a loss. 

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-- Andy Villamarzo | | @sblivefl