Skyline to host powerhouse football team from Florida

March 13, 2012

By Mason Kelley

When Skyline High School got an opportunity to bring a nationally prominent football program to Sammamish next season, coach Mat Taylor didn’t hesitate.

The Spartans, defending Class 4A state champions, will play Manatee, of Bradenton, Fla., on Sept. 15 at Skyline. Game time has not been determined.

“We jumped on it and we’re really excited, not only for the motivation in the off-season for our kids, but just our community and, hopefully, showcasing Washington football and being able to represent our league and our state and our school,” Taylor said.

Skyline opens the season against Bothell, and then will travel out of state in Week 2 for another showcase game. The school is still working on that matchup.

“It’s just starting to show there is great football in Washington,” Taylor said. “Whether it’s a ranking system or whatever, we might not always get recognized as well as we think we should be recognized, but it’s awesome.”

Manatee won Florida’s Class 7A championship in 2011 and brings back plenty of talent from a team that finished the season No. 12 in the ESPNHS Powerade Fab 50 rankings. Four Hurricanes defensive linemen who combined for 43 sacks are believed to be returning, Taylor said.

“They’re very talented,” the Skyline coach said. “Their quarterback is back. He’s got offers from a lot of the SEC schools. Everybody I’ve talked to says they’re very, very talented.”

The Skyline-Manatee game will also feature two top-tier passers. Skyline’s Max Browne is the Rivals.com’s No. 8 prospect nationally. Manatee’s Cord Sandberg was Florida’s 7A Player of the Year.

It will be the second Skyline game in three years featuring two highly rated quarterbacks. In 2009, led by quarterback Jake Heaps, the Spartans lost, 28-25, to Oaks Christian, of Westlake Village, Calif., and Nick Montana in a nationally televised game at Skyline.

“It’s going to be really, really exciting for the state of Washington,” Taylor said.

Mason Kelley: 206-464-8277 or mkelley@seattletimes.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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