Archive for Thursday, December 30, 2004

Mercer takes charge on gridiron, grappling mat

December 30, 2004

Whether he's on a football field or on a wrestling mat, Alex Mercer has made a real impression on any foe who dares to cross his path.

And he has his own highlight reel to show for it.

"I try to do everything I can to mash him," Mercer said. "I just want to hit him as hard as I can."

The De Soto senior, who played his first two seasons at Mill Valley High School before transferring to De Soto in the fall of 2003, recalled his top three "Mercer moments" in which he either crunched opponents or psyched them out. The first two instances occurred on a football field.

As a sophomore at Mill Valley, Mercer created an impact so devastating that it made the high school football reels at Metro Sports. On the second play of the game against Bonner Springs, a shoulder injury allowed Mercer to step in and replace the starter he was backing up.

"I didn't even know what coverage we were in," he recalled. "I just ran onto the field and got into position. Then when the hole opened up, I stepped in and annihilated the kid."

Hit No. 2 for Mercer took place during De Soto's biggest win of his senior season. While the Wildcats were knocking off Eudora 12-7 and clinching a conference crown in the process, Mercer was creating havoc on Eudora.

"I just grabbed the quarterback," he said. "He did a complete flip in the air before hitting the ground. When I get a big hit, I pop up as fast as I can yelling. Something out there gets to me. I get a rush, and I want to do it again."

While he does not have the speed of a sprinter, Mercer has been known to run down a back from time to time. He does, however, prefer to keep the play in front of him.

All of the shots Mercer has dished out at the expense of opposing backs have added up to interest from college football coaches. He still must decide whether he's going to play football at Pittsburg State University, Coffeyville Community College, Northwest Missouri State University, University of North Dakota or Washburn University next fall.

Before he concentrates solely on his favorite sport, Mercer still has some unfinished business on the wrestling mats. After reaching the state tournament a year ago, the 215-pound grappler wants to return and win some matches.

Not only has Mercer improved his skills over the summer, but he has changed his style. He is no longer the passive grappler he was a year ago.

"Last year I was much more laid back," Mercer said. "Now I'm being more aggressive. I'm taking the shots."

Mercer does not set out to intimidate his opposition on the wrestling mat, but it does happen once in a while.

Mercer, who is 46-27 over the last two-plus years on the mats, has compiled a 16-2 record at the 215-pound weight class this season and has caught the eye of the Kansas Wrestling Coaches Association in the process. The Wildcat has improved his Kansas 4A spot from the No. 5 ranking he earned in the preseason to No. 4 in his weight class.

Mercer will compete in football only next fall, but the linebacker said the two very different sports are similar in one way.

"They are both explosive," he said. "You have to be ready. You can't be lazy on the field, and you can't be lazy on the mat. You have to wo

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