In Memory

John Merricks (Coach)

Please post your comments and memories.

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04/05/11 04:16 PM #1    

Michael Parvis

Coach Merricks will always be remembered his toughness, fairness and as a good coach. His overall record at CHS  from 1966 to 1978 was outstanding and his numerous Championships over the years.  He took the class of 1971 football players and made us into PG Co-County champions.  The CHS 71 team was supposed to be a letdown after the CHS 70 class,  because we did not have the talent of the Bulmer’s, Bennett’s, Bucklers, Tipswords, Farri, Demencis, Stone, etc. Coach Merricks made us into championship team, where the sum exceeded all its parts.  The CHS 71 team beat DeMatha and Richard Montgomery HS in scrimmage games.  We lost to St John’s 13-7 in our opener and never lost another game. We were a Washington Post ranked Top Ten team in the Final Poll. Coach Merricks was a hard task maker, but he could coach and made us all better players and people. His life lessons live in each and everyone of the players he coached, they will always be part of us.

04/20/11 10:22 AM #2    

John "Wayne" Hayden

A memory provided by Bill Hartman;

I am so grateful that he was part of my life I agree he not only made us better ball players, better teammates and better people. Because of him there will always be a special bond between those of us that experienced the hard work, discipline, sense of accomplishment and pride. He made us discover things about ourselves we didn't know were there. When I remember how hard it was, it gives me tremendous respect for the players who stuck it out and never quit. That is the one thing about the 71 Cavaliers there was no quit in that bunch. Bill

04/20/11 10:25 AM #3    

John "Wayne" Hayden

Article in Washington Post about busing in PG County

In 1974, Wilk, a standout running back, recalls the first post-busing football practice the following summer. White players gathered on one side of the bleachers; black players on the other. Coach John Merricks, who has since died, surveyed the arrangement, Wilk recalls, and shook his head in disapproval: "Gentlemen, we're red, white and gold. We're not black or white. We're one team. If you're going to play for Crossland, let's mix it up."

"For a while, you forgot you were black or white," Wilk says. "You were a Crossland Cavalier."

04/23/11 05:00 PM #4    

Jimmy Epps

I am glad to have had the opportunity to play for Coach Merricks.  He taught you how to win as a team, not as individuals.  He taught us the power of positive thinking.  We were not the biggest, we didn't have the most talent, but we committed to win and we did, and it is an experience that I'll never forget.  When we beat Oxon Hill and got his 50th win and he came flying thru those locker room doors, it was one of the most memorable moments in my life.  He was one of the best and that's why he was inducted on the first ballot to the Maryland High School Coaches Hall Of Fame.  I will always remember him.  

05/18/11 10:25 AM #5    

John Carmichael

I did not play football until my senior year so I only knew Coach Merricks as a PE teacher until that year. I knew he was special then, but now over 30 years later he is even more special. I think he would be happy to know that so many of his 71 team still stay in touch and get together at least once a year. He had a lot to do with molding that team and made all of us a better person. I learned alot about life that one year that has helped me since then. He was a great motivated and he brought out the best in all his players because we did not want to let him down. He was one of a kind.

06/18/11 08:46 PM #6    

Jim Stegner

 Coach Merricks was bigger than life.  It is amazing how forty years later I have such vivid and fond members of him as a coach and a person.  I still have pictures from those days not only on the football field but I even have one with his arm around my mother.  Although as a defensive player, we were probably closer to Coach Layman, there was no doubt the Head Coach and Leader of the team was John Merricks. Does anyone else remember being in the gym bleachers and watching Coach Merricks throw a basketball one handed over his head into the basket?  

05/27/14 04:14 PM #7    

Michael Parvis

From Mike French (Class of 1970);

I graduated in Class of 70 from Mighty Crossland and many great friends were football players in the Class of 71. I was a "late bloomer" in sports and wished I had another year of sports eligibility. Heavenly days were attending Saturday home games during the 1970 season when attending the University of Maryland. My first footbal experience was left offence tackle with the 1968 JV Squad. This meant more to me than "All State" honors may have meant to more talented players. Coach John Merricks was a huge part of the teamwork experience. The most memorable game for the 1968 JV team was handing Parkdale High School (A brand new school in Prince George's County with same design as Crossland!) their first and only loss that year. Parkdale was a varsity team playing on a JV schedule and dressed in the same color uniforms as the Green Bay Packers. Crossland was dressed like the old Saint Louis Cardinals (red and white). At the end of the day the score was 13-7 with Crossland on top! Coach Merricks was a favorite and even these many years later, his lessons and expresions were most memorable. "Hey Ace, think you can handle it?" "Line up on the Ball" "Pain, Sacrifice, Pride" "We hit, got hit, and had a good time!" Live scrimmages and practices on the hill were tough ordeals at times with the JV often serving as the practice squad for the varsity. A real treat was a rare spray of Gatorade through the facemask as water was entirely taboo "back in the day". Coach Merricks instilled a lot respect and sometimes fear, but was also easily moved to tears. When Coach Merricks retired in 1977 many former players and friends attended a ceremony in his honor at the Crossland HS Gym. My Mother washed and sewed up my #55 practice jersey as a keepsake and I showed this to Coach Merricks at his function and explaining how much he and Crossland Football meant to me. Not sure who had more tears in their eyes. Was saddened to hear that Coach Merricks passed in 1979. What Memories and Lessons of this great man and mentor!


05/29/14 09:35 PM #8    

Mark Berninghausen

I'm glad you guys have such great memories of Coach Merricks. The only thing I remember of him was his screaming and yelling at me for walking across the new wrestling matt in my tennis shoes. As if I was supposed to know I shouldn't?

Maybe if I had been someone to go out for sports I would have seen him differently. I'm glad for you and your memories. He may have been a great man, but I didn't know it then.

Mark Berninghausen

06/02/14 12:42 AM #9    

Sam David Chinnock

It isn't whether or not you played for the man or merely saw him as your PE instructor, the profoundness of his character was measured by his commitment to those who allowed him to lead them.  It was with great respect that he and Coach Layman were two men, in fact the only two men, that I could turn to in a very dark time. They not only listened, without judgment, but held their peace in helping me find mine.  There are two paths that crossed Coach Merricks life as a coach from my household - and both of us respected him for what he stood for and the players he grew into young men.

Rest in Peace, Coach

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