Merkle Signs On with AFL's Bossier-Shreveport Club

Montclair, NJ (7/8/10) – Defensive lineman Chris Merkle (Nutley, NJ / Nutley) became the second Red Hawk to join with the Arena Football League this season when the All-American signed with the Bossier-Shreveport Battle Wings for the remainder of the season on Tuesday.

Merkle joins placekicker Marco Capozzoli (Bloomfield, NJ / St. Joseph’s (Montvale)), who signed with the Tulsa Talons last month.

Merkle made his debut with the Battle Wings on Saturday, July 3 in Bossier-Shreveport’s loss to Oklahoma City making one tackle. The Battle Wings are Merkle’s second club this year. He also played one game with the Chicago Rush in June.

Merkle played a key role in helping Montclair State to one of the best seasons in program history. Picked to finish third in the NJAC this season, the Red Hawks went on to capture the conference championship for the first time since 2003 and the school's 18th overall. After dropping its season opener, MSU ripped off 10 straight victories, tying a school record, and finished a perfect 9-0 in conference play capped off by 14-6 win over Kean that clinched the league crown.

The victory vaulted Montclair State into the NCAA Division III Playoffs for the first time since the same 2003 campaign and the Red Hawks made the most of its appearance downing Maine Maritime 38-22 in the opening round before being eliminated by perennial Division III powerhouse Mount Union in the second round. Montclair finished the season 10-2, the fourth time in school history that MSU won 10 games in one season.

Merkle led the Red Hawks with eight sacks in 2009 addition to 80 total tackles as he was named to the All-America Third Team.

Merkle, an NJAC Defensive Player of the Week selection, also accumulated 18.5 tackles for loss (of 81 yards) and two forced fumbles. Merkle finished 19th overall in tackles in the NJAC and was second in tackles for loss, third in sacks and sixth in fumbles caused. In eight of 11 games this season, Merkle collected six or more tackles, including a season-high 11 against Brockport. He also became the first MSU player since Shawn Roberts in 1997 to record four sacks in a game as he posted that numbers in a win over Morrisville State.

In his two seasons with MSU he appeared in 22 games collecting 132 tackles, 73 of those unassisted. In addition he registered 18.5 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks while forcing three fumbles and recovering two. Merkle was also named All-NJAC in 2008 after helping Montclair to an 8-3 record and a berth in the ECAC South Central Bowl.