Some players just have IT -- that ability to make a big play at any time. Or to make something out of nothing. Almost like ... Magic. Merced’s Jaquari People is that type of player.
“He’s one of those guys that plays faster than he is, he’ll play stronger than he is and bigger than he is,” said Merced coach Rob Scheidt. “You don’t know why, he just does.
“He’s just a smart football player. He understands the game.”
Merced's Magic Man showcased his special talents against Atwater last year, returning a fumble and an interception for touchdowns.However, both scores were called back because of penalties.
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People has always had the knack for big plays.
“I guess I just see little things,” he said. “It’s always been that way. It comes easier to me.
“As soon as the ball is in my hands, I’m thinking end zone automatically. I’ve got to score.”
Teammate Eric DeAnda has come to expect the big plays from People. He’s seen them since playing against him in youth football.“He’s always been an athlete,” DeAnda said. “He’s always made big plays. It’s no surprise he’s still doing it.”
People will see time on both sides of the ball as Scheidt continues to figure out ways to incorporate him into the offense.He’ll be used in a lot of the same ways Scheidt used former Merced star Bernard Bolden.
“Jaquari made a lot of plays as a sophomore,” Scheidt said. “Maybe even more than Bernard did as a sophomore,” Scheidt said. “Bernard kind of came on late and made some big plays, especially in the game against Tracy.
“Jaquari was more consistent all year. We slowly introduced him to the offense, which we didn’t do with Bernard his sophomore year.
“It looks like we’re going to move (People) to safety, which will give us the look that we’ve had in the past with Dion (Bland) and Bernard.”
People is just one of the many reasons Merced comes into the season with high hopes.
The biggest of which are the big guys up front.
Merced returns four starters on the offensive line in Gary Womack, Edward Lomelli, Brandon Wooldridge and Joaquin DeAnda.
The experienced line could set up DeAnda for another a monster season.
The Merced running back racked up 1,036 yards and 14 touchdowns last year despite not starting until Week Four.
Add the return of quarterback Rudy Monteon, and you can see why Scheidt is excited about what he has coming back on offense.
“Just on paper the group coming back, particularly on offense, brings a lot of guys back that had significant playing time,” Scheidt said. “It’s a group who really works hard. They’re players who want to please.”
The biggest obstacle for Merced may be another tough preseason conference schedule.
One year ago, Merced was outscored 156-38 on its way to an 0-4 start last year against Fresno Bullard, Napa, Fresno Edison and Del Oro.
“We have to play the top teams to get to where we want to be,” People said. “This group has been together for a while. We’re ready for a challenge.
“Everyone has been to everything all summer. Nobody has missed anything. I think we’re ready. Everybody wants to be there for each other. It’s all about us.”
Merced never recovered. After three straight playoff appearances, Merced missed the postseason with a 4-6 record
“It has been on my mind,” People said. “We lost a big game to Atwater and you look at our record we finished with.
“Merced has made the playoffs so many times and then we miss my year? We want to get back to the playoffs.”
At the bottom’s of your stories, please attach a small blurb about why said profile player is one of Merced County’s Most Wanted players. Pick a style. You can list their particulars, like height and weight. Or have fun, creating a story of sorts around their abilities and accolades. Below is the Most Wanted for the LB linebackers:
NAME: Jaquari People
AFFILIATION: Merced High Football Team
ALIAS: Magic Man
Quick hands. Intelligent. A flare for the dramatic. People has all the tools necessary to be a master magician. Fans can expect plenty of magic from People this year as Merced will find plenty of ways to keep him on the field on offense, defense and special teams.