BRADENTON -- As he prepared for his first varsity start as Manatee's quarterback, Josh Meyer acknowledged some of his thoughts earlier this week were thousands of miles away from Hawkins Stadium.
Meyer used to live in Moore, Okla., and the house he used to live in -- not to mention his old high school and elementary school -- was one of the nearly 13,000 structures leveled by Monday's tornado that killed 24 people and injured close to 400 more.
"We didn't have a storm shelter, so it would have been bad for us. Thank God I wasn't there," said Meyer, who moved from Oklahoma to Bradenton when he was 8, went back when he started high school and returned to Florida halfway through his freshman year. "All my friends are good; none of their houses are gone ... ."
Meyer made the best of his second chance Friday, solidifying his place as Manatee's new quarterback by leading the Canes to a 41-2 win over Tallahassee Lincoln.
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The 210-pound rising junior, who replaces three-year starter and Mississippi State commit Cord Sandberg, ran like a fullback, chugging
through wanna-be tacklers for 133 yards on 16 carries, and converting a fourth and 16 on Manatee's first drive by carrying the ball 24 yards to the Canes' 10.
One play later, running back Trevon Walters (10 carries, 173 yards) scored the first of Manatee's many points.
"He ran well, he executed. ... The kid's a sophomore, and he wasn't with us as a ninth-grader. He moved here the spring of last year," coach Joe Kinnan said. "I thought he did some good things."
While Meyer excelled at running the ball Friday, he was 11 of 22 throwing the ball for 86 yards.
"He's got a good arm. Mechanically, he's still got a ways to go," Kinnan said. "He missed that year with us running our offense as a ninth-grader. Again, I think this summer, with 7-on-7, the eight weeks have there, the reps he'll get there (will help), because we've got some really good receivers, and we need to get the ball in their hands."
"Stepping up and throwing the ball," he said, when he asked what he thought he needed to work on. "I was kind of drifting back when I threw."
In front of approximately a dozen Division I college coaches, Manatee's new-look defense performed well, limiting the Trojans' John Burt to minus-16 yards on 11 carries. Burt has received offers from Florida State, Louisville, Mississippi, South Carolina and Ohio State, according to scout.com.
Lincoln, which lost the Class 7A state title game last year to Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas, totaled 25 yards of offense.
The Canes face East Lake on Aug. 23 in their Kickoff Classic.
"We were in sync. It felt nice," Meyer said of Friday's game. "I enjoyed it."