BRADENTON -- What started out as a close fight turned into a knockout.
Just as Joe Kinnan thought it would.
Fueled by a dominating second half, Manatee brushed past Tarpon Springs East Lake 38-7 during Friday's Kickoff Classic at Hawkins Stadium.
"We're a physical team, and we decided we're going to right at them," said Kinnan, Manatee's head coach. "And we were grab-bagging a little bit in the first half. My playcalling in the first half was not the best.
"Our kids don't go both ways, and some of their kids go both ways. I think that hurt them."
The Hurricanes took a 14-7 lead over the Eagles, a regional finalist in Class 8A last season, into halftime. Austin Snowden's 31-yard field goal stretched that edge to 17-7 early in the third quarter.
Then Manatee went to its offense, throwing a variety of screens, shovels and reverses around East Lake while grinding the Eagles down in the process.
The result? A 21-point fourth quarter that featured three different players getting into the end zone.
"We've got a really good offensive line," Kinnan said. "We've got two really good running backs there who are quality players, and
we've got big physical (linemen)."
Running back Trevon Walters gobbled up 83 yards on the ground and scored twice, while his partner in the backfield, Johnnie Lang, scored on a 1-yard run late in the fourth quarter.
Walters teamed with Marquel Hines and Brodrick Yancy on an 85-yard drive that overlapped the third and fourth quarters and was capped when quarterback Josh Meyer, in one of the few times he threw downfield, connected with Kelvin McKnight on a 28-yard strike to give Manatee a 24-7 lead with 10:33 left to play.
Walters and Lang scored the final touchdowns.
"We wanted to play a good football team, and (the Eagles) are really good," Kinnan said. "They've got some big-time players."
Kinnan did stress discipline to his team, especially after a pair of holding penalties stunted one of Manatee's scoring drive.
But the coach was pleased following Friday's game and heading into next Sunday's regular-season opener against Gilman, Md., which will be played on the campus of the University of Maryland.
"Our (defensive backs) got burned a little bit, and it will be a learning experience for them," Kinnan said. "And we've got a long week next week. We play Sunday, so we've got two extra days."