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December 30, 2012
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As we come to a close in the year, it's time to take a look back at the landscape of high school football and see the '12 biggest stories' that shaped our season. Here are stories 4 and 3
No. 4 - Unbeaten teams fall like flies in the playoffs
No less than 24 teams entered the post-season with a perfect record. Only one finished that way.
In 8A - Dr. Phillips was the only unbeaten, and lost to Apopka (eventual state champ) in the state semi-finals.
In 7A - First Coast bowed out in the first round, Durant in the second round, Fort Pierce Central in the third round while Manatee and Kissimmee-Osceola left us in the state semi-finals.
In 6A - Lake Gibson, Largo and New Smyrna were the first to go - all bowing out in the first round. Then St. Augustine in the second round, Naples left the post-season in the state semi-finals and Gainesville was mauled in the 6A title game.
In 5A - West Florida went in the first round to eventual state title holder Godby - who also knocked out Wakulla in the second round. Pasco bowed out in the third round.
In 4A - South Sumter made it to the second round before losing to eventual state runner-up Bolles.
In 3A - University finished the season perfect, the only state champion to do so, knocking out American Heritage Delray in the process. Madison County - the state runner-up - beat First Academy in the state semi-finals.
In 2A - Lake Mary Prep was the first to exit - going out in the second round. First Baptist Academy fell to Dade Christian in the state semi-finals and Dade Christian bowed out to University Christian in the state finals.
In 1A - Union County and Trenton were the only two unbeatens. Union County lost to Newberry in the second round and Trenton fell to Northview in the title game.
Parity has arrived in high school football.
No. 3 - Manatee's dominant run comes to an end.
Speaking of unbeaten teams that fell - no one was more surprised than the Manatee Hurricanes.
This team was a juggernaut that rolled through the season - all 13 games - until a 35-18 loss to St. Thomas Aquinas.
During that run, Manatee scored an impressive 674 points - an average of 51 points a game. The Hurricanes' defense also did its job - allowing 10.8 points a game through the first 13 games.
Then came the St. Thomas Aquinas game.
Manatee gave up a season-high 35 points while scoring a season-low 18. The perfect season and the chase for a mythical national title came to an end at a place that the 'Canes were familiar with.
Brian Piccolo Stadium - the place Manatee has never won before.
Some called it ironic that the Raiders ended the 26 game run of the 'Canes. After all, in 2009 - at Hawkins Stadium - the Hurricanes upset then-number one St. Thomas Aquinas 28-20 to end a Raider run at a national title.
Both losses came at Piccolo Stadium.