SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) -It’s Ryan Merklinger’s duty, as an offensive lineman, to protect the quarterback like family. This year, the guy he’s keeping safe is family.
Little brother, Jake, takes over the reigns at Calvary Day as the Cavaliers look to ride this family connection to a region championship.
“The excitement has been off the chain,” Ryan explained with a smile. “We’ve cherished every moment. Every snap we’ve cherished with each other.”
There’s also, of course, the predicament Ryan would face at home if he lets up one too many sacks.
“[I have] a little extra motivation to think about,” Jake added. “I have parents and family to go home to.”
Jake comes into the 2020 season with big shoes to fill. Four-year starter Thomas Carver graduated and the Cavaliers will turn to a fresh face to lead an offense loaded with playmakers.
His brother has no doubt Jake is more than capable.
“He’s one of the best freshman in the state I think of all the classifications,” Ryan added. “I try to keep him grounded and stay the course. Don’t get too high on the good things and low on the bad things. That’s a great recipe for a good quarterback and great team.”
Jake realized he’d get a chance to play with his brother when he was the in eighth grade. Less than a year later, the true freshman said it’s still surreal to look at the line and see his brother lining up to protect him.
“Pretty cool to step back and realize, wow, I’m playing with him.”
WSAV sports reporter Connor DelPrete has their full story.