Merrillville, Lowell fine-tune their skillsMerrillville senior William Isabell bobbles a pass as Lowell senior Clark Mikesell chases after him. | Scott M. Bort~Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 13, 2011 10:42AM
In one week, Merrillville and Lowell each will have a daunting season opener. On Friday, the two teams met for a scrimmage with much less on the line.
Merrillville hosts five-time state champion Warren Central next Saturday, and Lowell resumes the state’s oldest rivalry with Crown Point on Friday. Both teams looked sharp in their tune-up on Friday.
Lowell, as usual, leaned heavily on the ground game, but tight end Nick Kijurna, a 6-3 senior, made a beautiful reception in the end zone. At one point, Lowell fumbled a snap, which was recovered by Merrillville. But the Red Devils redeemed themselves with a perfect lateral pass from quarterback Bryan Thomas to running back Nick Hamilton, who ran half the length of the field down the sideline for a touchdown. Running back George Fields also found his way to the end zone on a nicely executed running play.
Not to be outdone, the Pirates showed that they could pound the ball on the ground, as well, as Darryl Peppers — stepping in for the graduated Denzel Pierce in the backfield — scored on a nice run play. Quarterback Jake Raspopovich, looking to take over the job from his graduated brother, Zach, connected for a touchdown with an impressive throw to wideout Aaron Dye.
Another quarterback, Tyrie Fuller, also showed off his arm for the Pirates, hitting Darrin Funches for a 25-yard pass and finding Anton West for another. The Pirates might lack experience under center, but not depth.
The Pirates have been practicing together since the second week of June. Merrillville coach Zac Wells stuck to the basic offense and defense and wanted to see what his players could do. Wells said the team’s strength was its depth and that the competition for starting positions has been tough throughout camp.