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October 5, 2012

Midpoint musings - What we've seen so far

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So, we have reached the midpoint for some (others will get there this week) of what looks like it could be a very memorable 2012 football season.

There have been storylines aplenty, and here's a glance back at perhaps the three biggest (as well as some peeks ahead).

Manatee swims

When the year began, Bradenton Manatee was one of a handful of teams thought to be worthy of a national No. 1 ranking.

The Hurricanes have done nothing to disappoint.

They enter this week's game at District 10-7A rival Braden River boasting a 4-0 record that includes victories against Broward and Miami-Dade powers Miramar and Miami Central (more on the Rockets in a bit) by a combined score of 85-40.

And Manatee isn't yet done battling South Florida's finest, as Weston Cypress Bay will visit in two weeks for the Hurricanes' homecoming (talk about bold!).

What will happen the rest of the way?

Look for senior quarterback Cord Sandberg (70-of-101 for 923 yards with 11 touchdowns and no interceptions - verbally committed to Mississippi State)to continue his efficient ways. But it would be asking too much to expect him to finish the season without throwing one to someone wearing the other jersey, wouldn't it?

Also, expect defensive end Blake Keller to reach double figures in sacks. Despite being kept away from the quarterback by Central, the UCF commitment already has 5.5 sacks this year, including 2.5 against Miramar.

The pick here?

The Hurricanes go undefeated, win the FHSAA Class 7A state championship and at least one national title.

Consider that a sneak peek. We'll be back with a full list of way-too-early state championship picks in this space next week.

Is Mr. Football decided?

No offense to any of the other outstanding players in what is a deep year for talent in the Sunshine State, but Yulee's Derrick Henry looks to be about as sure a thing as mudslinging in a Presidential race.

The 6-foot-3, 243-pound Alabama commitment has carried 167 times for 1,753 yards with 24 touchdowns and, get this, no fumbles in five games.

He is averaging 350.6 yards-a-game with a season low of 242 on just 15 carries in a 55-0 defeat of Potter's House.

His high?

That would be the state-record 502 yards he put up in a 45-28 defeat of Jacksonville Jackson on Sept. 21.

If Henry stays healthy, he could finish with one of the greatest seasons in Florida history.

Maybe that will be enough to get him the fifth star he so richly deserves.

Rocket ride

Who has played the toughest schedule in Florida (and maybe the country)?

That's easy. Miami Central.

The Rockets visited national No. 1s, depending on the poll, in two of their first three games, losing to Loganville (Ga.) Grayson, 35-3, and Manatee, 44-34.

The other two games came against teams that could very well make lengthy playoff runs in Miami Booker T. Washington and Miami Columbus.

And how is this for difficult: Central's next three opponents (Homestead, Carol City and Northwestern) are a combined 13-2, and those teams aren't considered to be quite at the level of any of the Rockets' first four foes.

Wow... That schedule could make the games they'll play in the Class 6A state playoffs almost seem easy in comparison.

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