SCHERERVILLE | When in doubt, punt.

Good advice or not, Tim Arvanitis is not punting, even though he seems to be facing fourth and a bus fare.

"We're still in business," Arvanitis said of the Illiana Eagles, who are vying to be part of the 2016 Champions Indoor Football League season.

"We just had a little setback, and we arrived at the conclusion that we weren't going to be ready for the 2015 season," Arvanitis said. "But now we have a little more time to prepare."

Arvanitis is the head coach of the Eagles, who were formerly named the Southshore/Gary Dawgs when the team announced its inception last fall. The "Dawgs" were co-owned by Griffith native Mike Dortch and Brian Brundage, founder of Worldwide Career Management, which represents and provides services for numerous professional athletes.

But then Dortch backed out, and the Dawgs were thrown for a loss as far as their 2015 CIF debut was concerned.

"Mike decided to pursue another opportunity that was best for him, so you've got to respect that," Arvanitis said. "But Brian is still with us, and that's where I know we're going to succeed.

"The guy has been a winner all his life ... as a businessman, as a family man and as a community leader."

A former Lake Central football player, Arvanitis has been involved in football for most of his adult life. He has been a long-time president and coach for the Tri-Town Raider Pop Warner program and has coached at the high school level.

Jeff Karras, who coached Class 3A state runner-up Andrean in 2001, will be the Eagles' offensive coordinator.

"He told me he plans to score 70 to 100 points a game," Arvanitis said. "And I'm going to hold him to that."

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Mel Hay, who coached at Clark, Thornwood, South Central, Roosevelt and West, will be the Eagles' defensive coordinator.

"He played in NFL Europe and has worked with people like (former Super Bowl champion coach) Jon Gruden," Arvanitis said of Hay.

Matt Scearce, who is WCM's chief operations officer, is the Eagles' co-general manager with Arvanitis.

"There will be legitimate NFL prospects on this team," Scearce said. "For many guys, it's just a matter of getting noticed. Playing in the (CIF) is a good way to build up your game film resume ... to show off your ability against other prospects."

"You never know ... look at Kurt Warner," Arvanitis said of the undrafted quarterback, who nonetheless went on to star in the NFL after stints in the Arena Football League and NFL Europe. "He was stocking shelves in a grocery store before he got noticed."

The Eagles have tentatively scheduled their second open tryout for April 11 at a site to be determined.

"We plan to have 21 active players and maybe three inactive players," Arvanitis said. "We're looking for players who are tenacious and have the same passion that we (the Eagles' coaching staff and administrators) have about the game."

Those making the Eagles may still want to keep their day jobs. Typically, CIF players get paid up to $350 a game.

A veteran of the Schererville Police Department, Arvanitis also plans to keep his job.

"When you've been on the department as long as I have, you accrue a lot of time off," Arvanitis said. "You've just to plan ahead, and I've already done that."


Sports Director

Hillary has covered prep, pro and college sports -- and even a Dixie Baseball World Series -- for newspapers north and south of the Mason-Dixon Line since 1995.