TRINITY — As the last Pasco County Prep football team left standing in the playoffs, Mitchell High School faced off against Bradenton Manatee in a Class 7A region semifinal.
What was at stake was the fate of the Mustangs first regional round berth and Mitchell trying to upset one of the state’s perennial powers, the Hurricanes. Manatee is a program that has been to eight state championship games and won five of those contests.
Though Mitchell was the winner of five district championships in a row, the Mustangs had never faced a program with so much history and hardware. Nonetheless, Mitchell stayed toe to toe with Manatee, and if not for a couple missed opportunities before halftime, it might have been a little bit of a different story.
With its 31-28 loss of Manatee, Mitchell ended the season with a record of 10-2. Still, the Mustangs know they are starting to turn the corner as a program.
Mitchell will need to get accustomed to seeing some programs of Manatee’s caliber, as the Mustangs start to become regulars in the postseason dance.
“That’s a state championship caliber football team over there,” Mitchell Coach Andy Schmitz said after the loss to the team on the other side of the field. “I know this junior class is going to be laser focused on going deeper into the playoffs. This junior class is another group of really tough guys and we’re losing some key seniors, but we also have some guys coming up. We will be just fine.”
Saying goodbye to the likes of one of the county’s top running backs, Tyler Williams, would be a huge loss for most Pasco County programs. For Mitchell, however, it looks as if 2020 will be another reloading year come. With quarterback Ezra Brennan back in the fold and a host of other players coming back, this Mustangs team could see themselves right back in the region semifinal.