Bogue Chitto’s Merrell and Sartin, All-State Bobcats, headed next to Holmes CC

Published 2:35 pm Sunday, February 18, 2024

You’ll not find many with a stronger connection to Bogue Chitto than the senior duo of Andrew Merrell and Easton Sartin.

Merrell is the son of current BC principal Scott Merrell and Sartin is the son of longtime Bobcat football coach Gareth Sartin, who’ll succeed Merrell next year as the school’s head principal.

As seniors this season for the Bogue Chitto football team, both Merrell and Sartin were named to the Mississippi Association of Coaches (MAC) 2A All-State Team.

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Football isn’t finished for Merrell and Sartin either, as they both recently signed on to continue their careers with the Holmes Community College Bulldogs.

The 5-foot-11, 160-pound Merrell didn’t play football until his sophomore season, previously only focusing on soccer. When he did join the Bobcats on the gridiron, he made an immediate impact.

He was twice named MAC All-State and also earned Daily Leader All-Area honors multiple times during his career.

Also, a defensive back for the BC defense, Merrell’s athleticism shone brightest when he was punting the ball and kicking off. As a senior, he averaged 37 yards per punt and had a season long punt that went for 55 yards.

His ability to reach the endzone on kickoffs is another factor that made Merrell a desirable recruit.

“From a young age I’ve always dreamed of playing sports collegiality, but I just wasn’t sure of what sport until I signed up for football as a sophomore and had the time of my life,” said Merrell. “Ever since then, God has placed it right in front of me and all I had to do was just follow my passion. I love competition and I love working hard to better myself.”

In the world of MHSAA 2A football, where many teams automatically go for a 2-point conversion rather than attempting a kick, Merrell was nearly automatic on PAT attempts during his career, which began with him backing up then senior Carson Price when he was a sophomore.

The dream of playing college football held a similar place in the heart of Sartin, who’s grown up on a ball field as his father has coached football, baseball and even a little basketball in his over 20-year career at Bogue Chitto.

“I feel very blessed to be able to go and play on the next level,” said Sartin. “It’s always something that I’ve wanted to do, ever since I was young and would watch college football and tell myself that would be me one day.”

After missing most of his junior season with a knee injury, Sartin came back to the field in 2023 and again tougher than a pine knot while carrying the football for the Bobcat offense. He rushed for 1,183 yards and 11 touchdowns to pace Bogue Chitto.

Sartin averaged 7.4 yards per carry as a senior, caught three touchdown passes and made 96 tackles as a linebacker. He was named All-Area and Region 7-2A MVP.

The pair are joining a Holmes CC team that was probably the best two-year program in the state last season to miss out on the postseason.

Head coach Marcus Wood was hired ahead of the 2022 season and went 5-4 that first year before finishing 6-3 last season. Woods had previously been the offensive coordinator at East Mississippi CC in his last coaching stop before coming to Holmes.

Among the list of 35 signees for the Bulldogs were Chase Richardson of Winona High, Mr. Football for the 3A classification last season, Copiah Academy linebacker De’Jarious Segrest and Hazlehurst High defensive end Lionel Williams.

Located in Goodman, Holmes is a member of the North Division of the MACCC, which is composed of the Bulldogs, East Mississippi, Northwest Mississippi, Northeast Mississippi, Mississippi Delta and Coahoma Community College.