PREVIEW 2015: MERRILLVILLE PIRATES
After struggling through the regular season the Pirates turned up the heat come tournament time. Merrillville avenged regular season losses and defeated Crown Point and Lake Central. The biggest loss this season will be that of Head Coach Zac Wells, who left to become defensive coordinator at Illinois powerhouse Homewood-Flossmoor. In nine seasons Wells compiled an 82-31 mark with five sectional and three regional championships. New Coach Brad Seiss comes up North from Muncie Central. The former Warsaw All-Stater and Ball State standout will have to rebuild an offensive line if the Pirates are to continue their roll. Key graduation losses are: WR J.R. Robinson, WR Terrance Grayson, OL Ray-Quan Hampton, LB Daniel Eldridge, DL Kamau Richardson, K Ernesto Lopez and DN Tyreece Jones
A four year starter is rare in the Duneland Conference. There is nothing normal about the play of DL Shawn Streck. The standout has been a terror to opposing offenses the last three seasons. The All-American wrestler is deciding between multiple offers from both sports.
This spot will surely be a receiver as JR Robinson and Terrance Grayson have moved on to college. Look for senior James Walters and junior Moe Diallo to have breakout statistical seasons.
Junior receiver James Kirklen broke into the lineup last season and was a big play threat from the on-set.
BEST POSITION BATTLE:
I wouldn’t call it a battle, but senior running backs Myles Taylor and Isaiah Thornton figure again to share duties in the Pirate backfield.
SCOUTING THE: PIRATES POSITION BY POSITION
D.J. Wilkins returns for his final season at Merrillville. The standout basketball player has thrown for 4105 career yards and 35 touchdowns. He has also rushed for 593 career yards. The dual sport standout should have his pick of sport and college after this season. Senior Thomas Jones is also a talented quarterback.
Isaiah Thornton and Myles Taylor formed a great duo last season and figure to again. Also look out for sophomore Davion Ervin.
Replacing JR Robinson and Terrance Grayson won’t be easy. Having James Kirklen (31 receptions 444 yards) will help. Seniors James Walters, Matt Sims and Adam Neal join juniors Moe Diallo, KeJuan Thomas and Kameron Jackson as deep threats.
Graduation took the entire offensive line from last season. Long time line coach Joe Atria will have plenty of names to work with. Candidates will include: juniors Jaylon Gordon, Isaiah Davis, Matt Mallon, Andrew Vander Woude, and Milan Trajkovski as well as seniors Jaylen Williams, Alphonso Blackwell, Aaron Lott, Cameron Dunlap, Donyel Borom and Quenten Barnslater.
Shawn Streck (72 tackles, 4 sacks and 21 tackles for loss last season) leads a talented group. Junior defensive end Alfred Stubbs also returns.
Senior Adam Neal and junior Anthony Sams were starters last season and can be big playmakers again. Looking to line up with them are: KeJuan Thomas, Elijah Ray, Branden Bramson and Kameron Jackson.
Senior CB Anthony Tucker and senior safety Jorale Wheeler came into their own last season. Both are talented college prospects. Senior Matt Thompson and junior Kenyatta Smith also return after being part-time starters last season. You may also see Moses Johnson, Sean Roche, Adam Serros and Carl Stokes.
The Pirates return a ton of skill players. The regular season will not get easier as Merrillville has picked up Penn to its schedule. If the Pirates can rebuild/reload their offensive line, then look for another successful season will be in store for the Bucs.