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Merced grounds East Union’s air attack
Bulletin sports fall 2021
East Union's Luke Weaver is sandwiched by Merced's Malaki Leach (24) and Jaylen Thao-Booth (51). - photo by SEAN KAHLER


East Union 0 7 8 0 — 15

Merced 14 14 21 7 — 56


First quarter

M — Jack Collins 12 pass from Seth Scheidt (Abram Granados kick), 7:11

M — Cyrus Amos 36 pass from Scheidt (Granados kick), 1:02


Second quarter

M — Enoch Evans 48 pass from Jack Collins (Granados kick), 6:48

E — David Flores 1 run (Cooper Rossi kick), 4:03

M — Collins 12 pass from Scheidt (Granados kick), 1:48


Third quarter

M — Ryan Lee 2 run (Granados kick), 7:56

M — Jalonn Booth 40 interception (Granados kick), 6:37

M — Collins 12 pass from Scheidt (Granados kick), 1:18

E — Dylan Lee 33 pass from Luke Weaver (Weaver run), 0:39


Fourth quarter

M — Scheidt 1 run (Granados kick), 6:15


MERCED — Riding high off the program’s first playoff win in 29 years, No. 5 East Union took the field Friday night at Veterans Stadium against fourth-seeded Merced looking to plunge into not-recently-charted territory. The Lancers plunged, all right, right out of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs in a 56-15 win for the Bears.

“You have to give credit to Merced,” East Union coach Mike Kuhnlenz said. “Defensively, their line got after us pretty good tonight. Schematically, there were some things there in the run game, but they executed better than we did. Hats off to them. Merced is a great program and they have been a great program for a while.

“In our pass game there may have been some stuff there, but there was just not enough time. Maybe half a second more once or twice. But I am super proud of our guys for fighting. I know the scoreboard may not show it but there was zero quit in them.” 

Leading the charge for the Merced defensive line were brothers Jaylen Thao-Booth and Jalonn Booth. Lancers quarterback Luke Weaver (15 of 23 passing, 191 yards, interception) was thrown for a loss 10 times with Thao-Booth notching five sacks. He hurried Weaver on one pass attempt and Booth was able to take advantage of it, making an interception and returning it 40 yards to put the Bears (8-3) ahead 42-7 midway through the third quarter.

“They are just great kids,” Merced coach Bob Scheidt said of Booth and Thao-Booth. “I have known them since they were little guys. Those two guys are amazing. One kid (Booth) is a sophomore and he is bigger but the other guy (Thao-Booth) is one of the best players I have ever coached. And both guys play both ways. They just get after it.

“We knew they were going to try and man block Thao-Booth and you just can’t do it. Nobody has had success doing it. He’s probably going to break the school record in sacks or be pretty close.”

Scheidt was surprised at the margin of victory.

“I didn’t think the game would turn out like this,” Scheidt said. “I thought it would be a shootout but our defense did a tremendous job. It was a very difficult game plan but we executed it very well.”

East Union (6-6) scored on a 1-yard run by David Flores in the second quarter and on a third-period pass of 33 yards from Weaver to Dylan Lee.

The Lancers’ Kainoa Ontai had eight catches for 80 yards, and Jacob Toste added 68 yards on five receptions.

According to first-year coach Kuhnlenz, the playoff win of a week ago meant a lot to the school.

“I am super happy we could get that playoff win for the school,” Kuhnlenz said. “These boys deserve to have success. Obviously, we were hoping to do a little more, but for as good as football players as they are they are just amazing young men.

“There is talent at East Union. The boys proved that this year. They hung with some really good football teams. They went through a lot this year with the coaching change, which meant a completely new offense and a completely new defense and a completely different workout regimen with how we practice.”

Seth Scheidt (14 of 18 passing, 185 yards, four touchdowns; 18 carries, 71 yards, touchdown) accounted for all the Merced touchdowns except three – a 48-yard halfback pass from Jack Collins to Enoch Evans, a 20-yard touchdown run by Ryan Lee and Booth’s interception return.

The Bears travel to Tracy next Friday at 7 p.m. to face top-seeded Kimball.