The 2023 high school football season kicks off with “Week Zero” action on Thursday, Aug. 17 and Friday, Aug.18. Connect Savannah will be covering all of the Savannah area teams this season, and in an effort to preview the upcoming campaign, I’ve compiled a list of notable returning quarterbacks in the area.
A pair of four-star seniors represent the best duo of quarterbacks in one season for the city of Savannah in the modern area. In no specific order, here’s a look at some of the top returning QB’s around the city this year.
JAKE MERKLINGER – CALVARY DAY – SENIOR
The Region 3-3A Player of the Year in 2022, Merklinger threw for 1,987 yards and 32 touchdowns while completing 67% of his passes and throwing just two interceptions on 145 attempts as a junior. He rushed for 283 yards and four more touchdowns on 50 carries.
Merklinger, a University of Tennessee commit, has thrown for 6,607 yards and 75 touchdowns while leading Calvary Day to a 32-7 overall record in his three years as a starter.
He is the consensus No. 7 quarterback nationally and Rivals ranks him No. 5 at the position. In his three seasons behind center, the Cavs have reached the quarterfinals twice and the semifinals once.
Follow him on Twitter @JakeMerklinger.
LUKE KROMENHOEK – BENEDICTINE – SENIOR
As a junior, the highly touted recruit committed to Florida State led the Cadets (13-2) to a second straight Class 4A state championship in 2022 while being named first team All-State. He did so by completing 171 of his 263 passes (65%) for 2,579 yards and 24 touchdowns against just three interceptions. He also rushed for 453 yards.
Kromenhoek is the consensus No. 8 QB prospect nationally and rated No. 3 at the position by 247Sports. Like Merklinger, Kromenhoek is a four-star recruit in the Class of 2024.
Follow him on Twitter @LukeKromenhoek.
BARTON MIXON – SAVANNAH COUNTRY DAY – JUNIOR
Mixon showed signs of breaking out early in his sophomore season, his first starting behind center for the Hornets. He threw for 1,361 yards and 11 touchdowns on 95-of-167 passing (57%). Mixon also rushed for 210 yards.
Signs of inexperience were also there in 2022, however. Mixon threw 10 interceptions, seven of which came during a three-game stretch in October when the Hornets went 1-2. He’ll return top receiving targets Josh Washington, KJ James and Brooks Kleinpeter and could be poised for a big season in Year 3 under head coach John Mohring.
Follow him on Twitter @BartonMixon.
DEMETRIUS HOLLOWAY JR. – BEACH – SOPHOMORE
One of the only starting freshman quarterbacks in the area last season, Holloway did plenty last year to warrant excitement for his next three prep seasons behind center. As he goes, so go the Beach Bulldogs.
A new offensive coordinator will take over play-calling after last year’s OC Simon Heyward left the position in the spring. As a freshman in 2022, Holloway threw for 1,085 yards and nine touchdowns in nine games and he’ll be the focal point of a new-look Beach offense under head coach Michael Thompson this season.
Follow him on Twitter @D1_M3TRI.
ZAYDEN EDWARDS – ST. ANDREW’S – JUNIOR
Entering his third season starting at quarterback for the St. Andrew’s Lions, Edwards is the undisputed leader of head coach Kevin Prisant’s club.
In 2022, he threw for 1,642 yards and 13 touchdowns on 101-of-204 passing (49%) while rushing for 451 yards and 11 scores. Defensively, Edwards added 76 tackles and two interceptions.
St. Andrew’s has finished 5-5 in each of the last two seasons playing in Georgia Independent Athletic Association’s (GIAA) Class 3A. As a freshman, Edwards guided the SAS offense to 18.8 points per game while raising it to 26.6 per game last year as a sophomore.
Follow him on Twitter @ZaydenEdwards12.
NATE HAYES – EFFINGHAM COUNTY – SENIOR
The rising senior is coming off a really solid junior campaign which concluded with his being named to the Region 2-6A first team. Hayes threw for 1,658 yards and 14 touchdowns (two interceptions) on 118-of-221 passing (53%) while rushing for 308 yards and four more scores in 11 games played for the Rebels (7-5 in 2022).
Follow him on Twitter @NateHayes07.
Look for more previews like this one leading up to the start of the HSFB season and be sure to subscribe to The Read Option newsletter to get HSFB coverage in your email inbox all season long.