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Originally published Friday, December 7, 2012 at 11:14 PM

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Loss by Florida team could move Bellevue to No. 1 | Football

Manatee of Bradenton, Fla., the nation's top-ranked high school team, lost Friday night, leaving the door open for the No. 2 Wolverines to climb to No. 1.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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After Bellevue beat Eastside Catholic 35-3 for the Class 3A football state championship last weekend, coach Butch Goncharoff gathered his players around him and said, "I'll tell you right now. Best team in the country."

He might be right.

Bellevue was ranked No. 2 nationally by Sports Illustrated and ESPN in the final weeks of the season. Now the Wolverines are poised to claim the top spot.

Manatee from Bradenton, Fla., ranked No. 1 going into this weekend, lost 35-18 on Friday to St. Thomas Aquinas in Florida's Class 7A semifinals.

The Wolverines (14-0) won their fifth consecutive state championship this year, allowing 72 points all season and 13 in five postseason games. They knocked off a Trinity team from Euless, Texas, that made a good run in that state's 5A playoffs.

Bellevue beat opponents by an average of more than 40 points per game.

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