Prep football | Josh Meyer, Chase Richardson in arms race to replace Cord Sandberg at Manatee

Meyer, Richardson competing to replace Sandberg at QB

jlembo@bradenton.comMay 24, 2013 

BRADENTON -- Josh Meyer and Chase Richardson are the furthest thing from mirror images.

Meyer is a 6-foot sophomore. Richardson is a 5-8 junior.

Meyer is expected to dip his shoulder and run through a defender. Richardson is heady.

But as the spring football season winds down, Meyer and Richardson have one very important thing in common: Neither is trying to be Cord Sandberg.

One of them will slide into Sandberg's place as Manatee's starting quarterback when the Hurricanes kick off the regular season at 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 1, against Gilman on the campus of the University of Maryland.

But whoever wins the job will be looking to carve out his own legacy rather than trying to better Sandberg's.

"You've got to stay focused, keep all the criticism out and keep doing what you're doing," said Meyer, who will be a junior in the fall. "Listen to the coaches, make your reads and keep your head in it."

Sandberg graduates as one of the best quarterbacks in program and area history, accounting for nearly 10,000 yards of offense in three seasons while leading the Hurricanes to 39 wins and the 2011 Class 7A state championship.

He also nabbed a pair of Class 7A state player of the year awards and had a career completion percentage of 72.7.

Consequently, no one is expecting or demanding Meyer or Richardson match those gaudy numbers.

"Like I told Coach (Joe) Kinnan, we watched, for three years, the most accurate passer in the history of our school," said Chris Conboy, Manatee's quarterbacks coach, "and maybe the most accurate passer in the history of our state."

Listed at 180 pounds on Manatee's roster, Meyer rushed for 237 yards on 20 carries while throwing for 186 yards and four touchdowns in 14 attempts last season.

"He's going to get better. He's only a sophomore," Conboy said. "He doesn't have a lot of experience in our offense. ... He's getting better every day, and he'll be fine."

Richardson isn't as big as Meyer, but Conboy likes his cerebral approach and his decision-making, referring to the rising senior as a "student of the game."

"When you're as good as (Cord) is, you know it's almost impossible to reach that level," said Richardson, who completed 15 of 21 attempts for 50 yards last year. "And me and Josh are friends, so it's a really friendly competition. We don't have any hostilities or anything, and I talk to him all the time. His locker is right next to mine."

The starter will have the benefit of working with a strong supporting cast, including a senior-laden offensive line that graduated one starter, a quick backfield combo (Trevon Walters and Johnnie Lang) and a receiving corps that includes Kelvin McKnight, Marquel Hines and Brodrick Yancy, a trio that teamed for 101 catches last fall.

Yancy, who has received an offer to Temple, will occasionally play quarterback, too.

"Whoever is going to play there has got to understand that their role," Conboy said, "is to distribute the ball to playmakers and distribute it to the right guy. ... It's not like we have one guy we have to force the ball to.

"It's just a great situation for any quarterback to come into."

Expect the competition to be turned up a notch during Friday's spring game against Tallahassee Lincoln, last year's runner-up in Class 7A.

And in a few months, expect a decision.

"We think all three of the guys are good enough to win with if we have to," Conboy said. "We're just going to find out the one we think is the best. That changes from day to day, and Coach Kinnan makes the final call."

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