Front Row Preps' Joe Cortez, a member of Merced High's Class of 1985, proudly delivers Yogurt Mill gift cards Alfonso Gary (CB), Cody Chapman (LB) and Damien Phillips (DT).

Defense leads Merced to Yogurt Mill glory

Joe Cortez

Merced High fell behind 14-0 in the first quarter and had to overcome a 20-6 halftime deficit before defeating Casa Roble 38-26 on the road to reach the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV semifinals.

It was the second consecutive week that Merced’s ball-hawking defense intercepted five passes, giving them 24 picks for the season.

Alfonso Gary had a pick-six that gave the Bears a two-score lead and Jeremiah Emanuel Robinson had two interceptions. 

Quincey Collins and Nate Mendoza had the other picks for Merced.