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Manatee High School Class of 1994

Elizabeth Jane "Liz" Casteel Lopacki, Student Athlete

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Liz was frequently featured as one of the state's top cross country runners and the only female at MHS that trained with the boys’ varsity. Her long effortless stride gave her the appearance of gliding while others were exerting themselves. Liz excelled in track at MHS finishing 4 times as District Champion, 2 times as Region Champion, 4 times state finalist and, with a time of 5.09, is the first 1600 meter female State Champion in 1992 for both MHS and her coach. Liz continued her education and her passion for running at University of Alabama and ran #1 on their cross-country team by her senior year. After college, Liz coached for a few years and is now teaching at Palmetto High School.   Liz lives in Palmetto, Fl 

Manatee County High School Class of 1951

Robert Edward "Ed" Culpepper, Student Athlete

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Ed starred for Canes football for 3 seasons playing his final season at MCHS for new head football coach Wheeler Leeth.  Ed also earned varsity letters in basketball, track & field receiving a full football scholarship to University of Alabama where he lettered all 4 seasons.  He was drafted by Green Bay Packers (Round 9, Pick 101) but decided to serve his Country instead in the United States Army.  Upon his discharge, he was signed by Chicago Cardinals and played for 6 seasons in the NFL/AFL with the Cardinals, the inaugural Minnesota Vikings where he was teammates with Hall of Famer Frank Tarkenton and concluding his career with the Houston Oilers.  Ed was one of the first Manatee County players to receive a full scholarship to a major university, the first player from Manatee County to be drafted by the NFL and is one of the oldest living former NFL players.  After his NFL career, Ed and his family came home to Manatee County where he has been a 'Canes season ticket holder for many years attending every home game.  Ed currently lives in Sun City, FL  He was nominated by Scoopy Davis, MCHS Class of 1951.

Manatee High School Class of 1992

Tommie James Frazier, Jr., Student Athlete 

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Tommie Frazier, an outstanding quarterback at Manatee High School, played varsity basketball and was a member of the Youth Advisory Council. He is known as one of the best college football quarterbacks of all time playing for the Nebraska Corn Huskers and is the only player to ever win 3 straight National Championship MVP Awards. Tommie received 2 consecutive Orange Bowl MVPs, one Fiesta Bowl MVP, and the 1995 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and was named the 1996 Top NCAA QB. He was an All-American, and part of the 1995 team voted the best college football team in ESPN history. Health concerns kept him from the NFL but he continued his love of football as a Coach.  

Manatee High School Class of 1971

James Marvin Griffith, Student Athlete

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Jim may be one of the most unique student athletes to come from MHS since swimming was started in 1969 when Jim volunteered to represent MHS as the lone member of the team. During his time at MHS, Jim was a State Champion in the 100 yard & 200 yard freestyle, All American and his lone man team finished  8th in the state in 1969, 7th in 1970 and 6th 1971. At UF and University of Southern California, Jim was College All American in Freestyle. After college, he was 11 times US Masters Swimming Champion, a member of the Olympic Club Master's program in San Francisco, has raced in San Francisco Bay around Alcatraz, through the Golden Gate Bridge, the Maui Channel swim in Hawaii and races across Lake Tahoe just to name a few. Jim not only excelled at swimming, he was a member of White "M", graduating in the top 4% of his class,  he was President of Interact, member of Student Council, and Vice President of his class.  Jim currently lives in San Francisco, CA

Bradenton High School Class of 1948

Charles Lee Jones, Student Athlete


In his senior year, Charlie Jones held the state high school record for both the low and high hurdles and was regarded as the most promising young hurdler Florida ever had. He stepped across the 120 yard high hurdles in 14.3 seconds and the world record at that time was 14.2 seconds. He was a natural hurdler, walking across walking across the tall sticks with the greatest of ease. Charlie accepted a 4 year scholarship to UF after smashing the South Florida Conference and state high and low hurdle records. Charlie rushed for 19.2 yards a carry in football his senior year and the team won the South Florida Conference Championship. After college, Charlie had a distinguished 22 year career in the Army and retired with the rank of Colonel.  Charlie lives in Bradenton 

Manatee High School Class of 1963

Joseph Francis "Joe" Kinnan, Jr., Coach

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Joe was the same kind of football player that he wanted all his players to be.He was a two year starter on the football team where he played offensive and defensive guard under Head Coach Wheeler Leeth and Bob Stewart. Manatee was 8 – 2 and won the Western Conference championship in 1962.  The team lost its opener 20-7 to Sarasota but bounced back quickly. Two weeks later, Joe recovered three fumbles against Tampa Chamberlain, the 1961 mythical state champion, and the Canes pulled off a 706 upset. The Canes held 8 opponents to a touchdown or less and won the school’s first WC title in 6 years. Joe was responsible for a lot of that defense. Joe was one of four MHS players who were named All-Western Conference. In the 1962-63 school years, he received varsity letters in 3 categories. A red “M” for athletics, a white “M” for academics and a blue “M” for music.Kinnan won five state titles (1983,1985,1989,1992 and 2011) and 290 games as the head coach at  Manatee High School in the Bay Area as he built a program regularly ranked among the best in the nation. Kinnan had a 290-72 record in 29 seasons as coach. He was inducted into the Florida Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame and, in 2007, was one of 12 coaches named to the Florida All-Century High School coaching staff for the first 100 years of prep football in the state. In 2013, he won the voting for the top high school coach in Florida in a USA Today contest.His record of accomplishments is definitely impressive and his legacy will always be remembered at MHS.  Joe is currently with the University of South Florida Bulls Football Team as a Consultant

Manatee High School Class of 1986

Trevor Willington Kronemann, Student Athlete

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At MHS, Trevor won the 1985 Florida Class 4A state singles title and was ranked 28th in the 1985 national 18 and under rankings. Trevor graduated from University of California-Irvine in 1990, having led the Anteaters to four Big West titles, four NCAA tournament appearances and was Big West Player of the Year in 1990, the number one ranked doubles player in 1990 and a six time All American (4 times in singles and 2 in doubles). He was inducted into the UC Irvine Athletics Hall of Fame in 1999, played professional tennis for eight years winning 6 doubles titles and finished runner-up an additional 5 times, achieving a career high doubles ranking of #19 in the World in 1995. Trevor served as head coach of Cal Poly before returning to UC Irvine as the head men’s tennis coach and is currently Director of Junior Tennis for The Southern California Tennis Association.  Trevor lives in Mission Viego, CA 

Manatee High School Class of 1970

Henry Lawrence, Student Athlete

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 Henry was a 6'4" lineman at Lincoln High School where he earned All-American honors when Lincoln was closed and over 500 students moved to MHS in 1969. Henry played on the MHS football and basketball teams but the turmoil created with the closing of Lincoln made it difficult for him and many of the students. He was recruited by Florida A & M where he was twice named Small College All-American. The Oakland Raiders made Henry their No. 1 pick in the 1974 NFL draft and his career spanned 14 seasons with 3 Super Bowl Titles and Rings. Henry played in the 1983 and 1984 Pro Bowl games until an injury in 1987 ended his NFL career. Henry won the Jesse Owens Achievement Award for athletic excellence by FAMU in 2010, was inducted in the Florida Sports Hall of Fame in 2012, and in 2016 accepted an Outstanding Citizen Award. After his retirement, he went back to his love of music and has performed in multiple countries and sings in a Gospel Choir at every Super Bowl as well as different locations in Manatee County.   Henry lives in Palmetto, Fl 

Wheeler Leeth, Coach

1952 - 1974 - Coach, Dean of Boys, Principal

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Bradenton was still reeling from a losing season when a 6'2", 180 lb. man with bear-sized hands and a molasses-thick Alabama drawl drove into town in 1950. He brought with him dedication, enthusiasm, a wealth of innovative football knowledge, the Notre Dame Box and a lifetime of discipline. Wheeler grew up in a small Alabama community and played both football and basketball being awarded a combination scholarship in both sports to University of Alabama. He was a member of their 1941 National Championship football team, played in the 1942 Cotton Bowl and the 1943 Orange Bowl and led the basketball team to the 1940 SEC title. As a coach, he was the man who every boy who played football at MHS in the 1950's most admired. He was their coach, their friend and their father, all rolled into one and he taught Bradenton how to win at football. During his 11 year coaching career at MHS they won 85 games, lost 30 and tied 7. His teams began a 24 game unbeaten streak in 1954 with the 1955 team winning the Western Conference Championship and Manatee's first unbeaten season in 40 years. His form of discipline was to make the player quickly run 125 yards to the fence and back if they made a mistake in practice and did the same himself if he felt he made a mistake. Wheeler Leeth commanded respect, always believing in his players and himself and leaving a legacy that will never be forgotten. Coach Leeth passed away June 8, 1998 at the age of 81 Coach Leeth's trophy was delivered to his widow, Ruth Leeth who was unable to attend.  She lived to celebrate her 100th birthday.

Eddie Shannon - Coach/Contributor

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Coach Shannon was the Palmetto Memorial H.S. quarterback for 3 years in the early 40's and after a 4 year stint in the United States Army, headed to Florida A & M. He played football from 1946-50 at FAMU, was their first full-time Athletic Trainer from 1950-53. Upon his return to Palmetto, Coach Shannon was the head football coach at Lincoln High School until it closed and he moved to MHS along with many of the students. Every day for the next 19 years, Eddie Shannon's smiling face was the first students saw when they walked through the front doors of MHS in the morning. Although retired for many years, Coach Shannon will still be seen on the sidelines at Hawkins Stadium when the 'Canes play. With a height of 5’ 3 ½”, Eddie Shannon is now and has always been a giant of a man. He is “Coach” to several generations of athletes, and “friend” to all who have known him.   Coach Shannon lives in Palmetto, Fl.

Bradenton High School

1915 Football Team

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Coach Julian Howard brought football to Manatee in 1914 and local merchants outfitted the team with uniforms and equipment. When 1915 rolled around, local fascination with football had peaked and there were 13 players on the roster. The schedule consisted of 6 teams but played Tampa Hillsborough and Plant City each twice.  Without giving up a point, Manatee swept through eight games unbeaten. To play St. Pete, Manatee had to travel by boat to the old Municipal Pier, and then walk 56 blocks to the field.  Trips to other schools in the area were 2 day affairs and always by train. Manatee was regarded as the best team in the southern part of the state and Gainesville was the best in the northern part of the state – Manatee traveled for 2 days to Gainesville and continued their winning streak with a score of 10 – 0.  There was no state organization for high school sports, coaches were not allowed to send in plays or signal instructions from the sidelines, offenses never huddled before a play the way they do today and there were no bleachers and spectators moved with the action up and down the field.  Certainly different than today!!!  

1947 Football Team

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Bradenton and Palmetto with the fiercest rivalry of all for teams at this time. From 1915 – 46, Bradenton won 17 games, Palmetto 8 and 4 games ended in a tie.  The river between the two helped keep the intense feelings under control.  In the fall of 1947, Palmetto was closed and Bradenton High School became Manatee County High School.  The Bradenton Golden Wave and the Palmetto Tigers were merged and after much consideration the team was called Manatee Hurricanes.  Merging the two teams with so much talent was difficult because of the intense rivalry but they became a team quickly and after a great season played the game of the year against unbeaten Sarasota. A record crowd of 8,000 fans crowded into Ihrig Field for the game. It came down to the final minute when the team captain scored on a one yard run to tie the game and the extra point made it a 14-13 victory. Plain, unvarnished gridiron guts and raw determination brought victory to coach Joe Rousseau’s charges. Outplayed fully three fourths of the way, the Hurricanes simply refused to be beaten and they weren’t.   

1963 Baseball Team

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The Manatee Hurricane Baseball Team owned high school baseball, losing just twice and there wasn’t a team that could touch them. Manatee defeated Pensacola for the state title on in a game played at Sarasota’s Payne Park with a final score of 7-5, although the Canes trailed 5-3 heading into the bottom of the third inning. The ’63 team featured Richard Trapp, an all-world athlete who went on to have a Hall-of-Fame football career at the University of Florida, starred on the university’s baseball team and won the school’s table tennis and billiards titles before embarking on a pro football career. It also included Jack Hutchinson, whose father, Fred, managed the Cincinnati Reds to the 1961 World Series. Suffice it to say, the Hurricanes were good and they dominated. 

1983 Football Team

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The 1983 team brought home the first “official” state championship when Manatee won 27-21 over Miami Southridge in a controversial call over a fumble. It was the first state title by a Central Florida school since the FHSAA began its state playoff system in 1963. It was the start of something big at Manatee and success followed fast and furious. For the success that followed, much credit was given to the ’83 Canes who pioneered the way. The Canes became one of just 11 teams in the history of Florida to finish a season with a 14-0 record.   Joe Kinnan was head coach of the team.