Mercer Island football program is on the rise

Not even a 55-21 loss to the O’Dea Fighting Irish in the first round of the Class 3A state football playoffs could put a damper on the memorable season the Mercer Island Islanders football team put together on the gridiron.

The Islanders, who advanced to the state playoffs for the first time since 2005 season, compiled an overall record of 7-4 during the 2017 season. The Islanders had multiple players collect coveted KingCo 3A all-league honors for their stellar seasons. Jaeden Pritchard earned first-team all-league honors as an offensive lineman and defensive lineman. Speedster Cole Miller attained first-team all-league awards as a wide receiver and kick/punt returner. Senior Spencer Luce nabbed first-team all-league as a long snapper. Mercer Island players capturing second-team all-league honors consisted of Nikhil Nayar (quarterback), Gio Cervantes-Rocha (wide receiver) and Jack Clayville (kicker). Mercer Island head coach Ed Slezinger, who was hired to lead the football program in mid-May, said his squad improved significantly in all facets since spring practice sessions kicked off in early June.

“We had 17 guys I think on our first day out at spring ball. More and more came to the team throughout the spring and summer. It was really about the attitude of the players that led to the growth of the team. The attitude and work ethic subsequently took us to where we went (state playoffs),” Slezinger said. “My biggest takeaway of this season is the overall great performance, attitude and demeanor of these young men.”

Even though the 2017 season is recently in the books, Slezinger is already stoked for the 2018 season.

“We’ve got some good players coming back. Our “C” team did really well this year in both overall performance and in growth. They really showed a lot of promise for what we’re going to have next year. We’ve got some kids who are going to be able to step in and replace some of our graduating seniors with authority,” Slezinger said.

The cupboard will be far from bare next fall. Islanders’ stalwart wide receiver/kick returner Miller will be one of the top playmakers in the KingCo 3A Conference during his senior season in 2018. Hard-hitting middle linebacker Will Mulflur, who was in his first season of football as a junior, will be a seasoned leader during his senior campaign. If the outcome of a contest has to be decided by a field goal, Clavyille will undoubtedly be one of the top kickers in the KingCo 3A division as a senior. The future is indeed bright for the Islanders football program!

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