Nolan Merker

Huge strides put Sheldon's Merker in the record book

Published: Thursday, Sep. 12, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 10C

It took Nolan Merker a split second to answer the question: How much better is he at quarterback for Sheldon High School compared to last year?

"Light years," the senior said. "It's all experience. It came slow for me last year, and I struggled and took my lumps. But I worked at it."

And the work has paid off.

After an offseason and summer working on his craft, Merker is the area's hottest quarterback not named Jake Browning (Folsom), Matt Jimison (Vista del Lago) or C.J. Spencer (Inderkum).

Merker passed for eight touchdowns – an Elk Grove Unified School District record – in completing 20 of 30 passes for 406 yards with no interceptions in a 68-13 rout of Lodi on Friday. His eight touchdown passes are tied for second in Sac-Joaquin Section history with Kevin Tinney of Kennedy (1987 against Cordova). Browning tied a modern-day national high school record with 10 touchdown passes against Woodcreek a year ago, and Jimison threw for seven touchdowns last week against Highlands.

Merker has passed for 11 touchdowns with no interceptions for the 2-0 Huskies this season. Last year, he finished with just 12 touchdown passes, four in the last game against Ponderosa.

At 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds, Merker isn't nearly as big as Browning, Jimison and Spencer, but his coaches say he makes up for it with intangibles and desire.

"Nolan Merker is special," Sheldon coach Herbie Berry said. "One of the things I had expressed to other coaches was, when (you're his size), you're not going to get a lot of college looks. So we have to showcase him. And he's showed how good he is."

Merker said he's pleased with his team's strong start – after a 3-7 record last season – and his 4.2 cumulative GPA.

He's also quite witty on Twitter – @_YoungMerk – with these tweets after his record performance: "Taking my linemen to some fine dining as a reward. McDonald's dollar menu, here we come" and "To give you an example of how well my offensive line played, my worst injury (Friday) came from a bouncy house."

Merker said he has no complaints.

"Not many guys can say they're the quarterback for their high school team," Merker said. "I'm living the dream right now."

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