BRADENTON - If you looked at the spring schedule earlier this month, Lincoln at Manatee would seem to be the best match-up state-wide.
Both programs have won state titles in the last three years, and Lincoln lost in the 7A championship game last December to St. Thomas Aquinas, who knocked off Manatee in the state semifinals the week before.
But the Manatee Hurricanes made sure there would be little doubt who the best team on the field was on Friday night.
Senior running back Trevon Walters rushed for 173 yards on 10 carries, including two long runs, and a touchdown on the opening drive as Manatee cruised past Lincoln, 41-2, at Joe Kinnan Field in Bradenton.
Walters, who is being recruited heavily by USF along with Missouri, Marshall and Minnesota, ripped off 38 and 19 yard runs on the opening drive before scoring from 10 yards out.
It was also a big night for Manatee junior quarterback Josh Meyer, who rushed for 133 yards on 16 carries and threw for 86 yards.
Meyer is replacing Mississippi State signee Cord Sandberg, who left Manatee with almost 10,000 yards of offense and a state title in 2011. It was supposed to be a two-horse race to replace Sandberg with Meyer and senior Chase Richardson, but Hurricanes coach Joe Kinnan says that was never the case.
"Josh has always been our QB," he said. "He does have to improve in the passing game before September comes around."
It was a tough week for Meyer, who moved to Bradenton from Oklahoma a year ago. The house he lived in, along with his elementary and high school in Moore, are gone after the tragic tornadoes earlier this week.
"It's an awful thing," Meyer said. "I tried not to think about it during the game but it was hard not to at times."
The holes were there all night for Meyer and Walters behind senior offensive lineman Jake Stickler, who is also being looked at by USF along with Baylor, UConn, FIU, Marshall, Missouri and Baylor. Both Meyer and Walters ran for second quarter TD's to give Manatee a 21-0 lead. Lincoln got it's only points of the night halfway through the second quarter as the Trojans tackled Manatee's punter in the end zone after a bad snap to make it 21-2.
The Hurricanes came right back and scored before the half on a 31-yard TD run by Johnie Lang to extend the lead, 28-2. The Manatee defense, led by Florida State commitment defensive tackle Demarcus Christmas, held Lincoln's offense to 25 total yards.
"We lost 20 seniors from last year's team, and we were without our starting running back and quarterback tonight," Lincoln coach Yusuf Shakir said. "We will be better when the season comes but we are a very young team and I wanted to play a team as good as Manatee in the spring for that reason."
John Burt was the quarterback most of the night for the Trojans, but was held to minus-16 yards on 11 carries. On the defensive side for Lincoln, senior cornerback Kendall Randolph had a quiet night as Manatee didn't challenge much through the air. Randolph is being recruited by 24 schools, including USF, Alabama, Florida State, Miami, Florida and Georgia.
But this was Meyer's night to shine in his debut as the starting quarterback for the Manatee Hurricanes.
"I was pretty nervous this morning," Meyer said. "But once I got here it seemed pretty comfortable. I'm so excited to see how in sync we were."