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Merced explodes with lots of Sparks

Even Jarrett Sparks is starting to scratch his head.

Merced's star receiver can't believe he's not seeing more double-team coverage.

Note to Central California Conference coaches: Single coverage isn't working.

Sparks put on another show Friday night -- hauling in five passes for 167 yards and four touchdowns -- in Merced's 49-7 victory at Don Odishoo Field.

"If they single-cover me, we're going to try to beat them deep with speed," said Sparks, who has seven touchdown catches the last two weeks.

"I'm pretty surprised. I thought they would at least put a safety over the top on my side."

Instead, it was Turlock cornerback Dillon Scholler who found himself matched up one-on-one with Sparks most of the night.

"On film (Sparks) looks good," Turlock coach Lance Cornell said. "In person, he looks real good.

"Our coaches upstairs were saying we need to double-team him. But Merced does so many things well.

"If you double cover him, they're going to run it down your throat. You kind of have to pick your poison."

Bernard Bolden started the offensive onslaught when he scored on a 67-yard run on the first play of the game.

It was Bolden's only carry before returning to his normal spot at safety.

Sparks took over from there, scoring a 26-yard touchdown on a screen play.

On Merced's next possession, quarterback Brandon Garcia -- who completed 6 of 8 passes for 171 yards and four touchdowns -- changed a play at the line of scrimmage.

The result was a 36-yard touchdown to Sparks to give Merced a 21-0 lead with 1:15 left in the first quarter.

"We couldn't believe they rolled up on him," said Merced coach Rob Scheidt, whose team improved to 3-0 in the CCC and 7-0 overall. "We saw single coverage last week, but there was rain and mud.

"We haven't seen teams roll up on him with no help. I was happy we didn't panic and checked right to it."

Sparks added touchdown catches of 56 and 36 yards.

In between the final two Sparks' touchdowns, Merced's Kameron Huddleston blocked a punt into the arms of teammate Jamichael Turner, who sprinted to the end zone for an 18-yard return.

"I'm happy because I haven't scored all year," Turner said.

"I was smiling when I was in the end zone. Kameron was mad because he was the one that blocked it. He wanted to score."

After some struggles, the Merced offense is rolling.

"At the beginning of the year we were pretty good," Sparks said. "We hit a dry spell, but we're back."

Just what Golden Valley wants to hear.

Merced plays Golden Valley next week in the battle for the Mayor's Cup.

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