MERRILLVILLE | Youth was on display for Merrillville on Friday night. Experience shined for Lowell.
Merrillville sophomore quarterback D.J. Wilkins was 5 for 11 on the night, but put a fade right on the money for Terrance Grayson for a 17-yard score on the Pirates' final possession. He also missed a wide open Jonathan Robinson in the opening series for what would have been an easy score.
"As you would expect (with a young quarterback), there was going to be some inconsistency," Pirates coach Zac Wells said. "(The touchdown pass) is what we've seen more of in this camp than the missed one so we know what his potential is and it was good to get him here in live fire against other teams at a varsity level."
Red Devils senior running back George Fields took twice as many handoffs (seven) as any other Lowell back, but said he was ready for 30 carries or more in the regular season.
"Wait until next week," he said.
Fields scored twice on the day.
The Pirates edged out the Devils in scores, six to five, when all was said and done.
The highlight of Lowell's opening drive was a Tyler Hopkins's 30-yard run up the middle, which he cut to the left side. The Devils only managed to score once in the first 15-play series. Coach Keith Kilmer said his team has three new offensive linemen starting.
"It took us a while to adjust, to get up to 'hey, you're playing with the big boys. This isn't J.V. ball, anymore,'" Kilmer said. "It's not technique. It's not effort. It was 'hey, it's Friday night.'"
The score came on Zachary Bobos' 8-yard pass to Joshua Bottos.
"I'd say about the first series, we had jitters that we had to work out," Fields said. "We still have some work to do, but we're going to get there against Crown Point (next week)."
The Pirates defense stuffed several runs in short-yardage situations early.
"We're actually missing three starters, maybe four from our defense, to be honest with you. I think we have a chance to have a pretty good defense," Wells said. "We're cautiously optimistic. We played the run against (Lowell) pretty well and this is a running team. That's what they do."