Merrillville Coach Brad Seiss
The Pirates will need to replace QB D.J. Wilkins (Sunrise (KS) Prep for basketball) and standout DT Shawn Streck (Purdue for wrestling and football) among others. The Pirates are far from short handed and return plenty.
Congrats on your first year at Merrillville and winning the sectional?
Thanks. It is always nice to be a part of a group that has won back to back sectionals and added to the history of Pirate Football
How was it coming in last year and having established coaches in place?
Our coaching that Coach Wells had assembled was phenomenal. Joe O’Connell had been the Offensive Coordinator for 3 years and our offenses have put out great numbers. We promoted Josh Sabinas from LB’s to Defensive Coordinator and he is a very hard worker that brought in a new scheme and our defense will continue to improve. The rest of our assistant coaches from the varsity level all the way down to the freshman level do a great job. We all work hard together and get along really well together.
The first time in a LONG time there won't be a Wilkins or Raspopovich at QB. How is the QB derby going?
Over the summer sophomore Cameron Wright has emerged as our frontrunner to be the starting QB. He’ll do a great job. He’s got a good group of offensive lineman in front of him and a really good group of skill players around him so we won’t have to put a bunch of pressure on him. Hopefully he can develop into a really good quarterback like many of his predecessors before him.
You recently held several college camps at Merrillville. How did that go?
We hosted Indiana St. and Ball St. NWI prospect camps. Any time we have a chance to get our players exposure is great along with the rest of the players in the region. It is good to have it at our place because we do have a nice facility and our kids don’t have the burden of traveling to other camps.
Who is the most underrated college prospect on your team?
Kameron Jackson. Kameron is a very versatile player who can play inside and outside receiver, he’ll be our backup quarterback, and he also is in the mix to play some OLB on defense because he is a big physical player. He’s about 6’4 200 pounds with a lot of potential to play at the next level.
Who is the one player who no one knows about yet, but will?
Davion Ervin has emerged as our running back. He’s a junior, weighs about 185 pounds and has had a great offseason to physically get himself ready to be a varsity tailback. We have such great weapons returning on the outside at receiver that everyone has to respect that it will open up our run game. Also we have 3 returning OL starters along with several other talented guys up front. Running the football will be a strength for us.
Biggest position battle as we end the summer and head to fall camp?
I think figuring out who will be the guys on the offensive and defensive lines. Offensively Isaiah Davis, Rudy Streck, and Jaylon Gordon return. Defensively Anthony Sams and Alfred Stubbs return. Andrew Vander Woude, Quenten Barnslater, Matt Mallon, Nick Riley, Justen Ramsey are all vying for positions.
Who is one guy on your team who might not be a high level recruit, but is a great football player?
Kejuan Thomas. He’s our most versatile player. He’ll be a receiver and running back offensively and he’ll also be one of our stack linebackers. There isn’t a skill position besides quarterback that he wouldn’t be able to play and be one of our best.
In what way has recruiting improved since you first started coaching??
Technology has really made recruiting easier. With the click of a button we can get film out to coaches. With the internet there is less undiscovered talent.
What are the negatives about the current recruiting process?
I think the cycle is sped up way to soon. Kids are getting offered their 9th & 10th grade years before they even play varsity football. If a kid is a late bloomer as a senior it almost seems to late because many places are filled up and on to the next season in the recruiting cycle.