Senior leaders Demetrus Dean and Daniel Reeves build the foundation for ‘brand-new’ Hammond Central

Demetrus Dean says he feels “a little bit of pressure” as a leader for Hammond Central’s inaugural team.

He understands he’s part of history. Someday, people will look back to see how this first group of Wolves fared.

But Dean, a middle linebacker and fullback, also has been embracing the challenge.

“It makes it fun at the same time,” he said.

The Wolves have been having fun building the program from the ground up.

The city’s four high schools have been consolidated into two: the newly built Hammond Central and Morton. Hammond High, Clark and Gavit were closed.

Adam Hudak was named Hammond Central’s first coach. The 1998 Lowell graduate spent four seasons at Wheeler, which went 8-3 last season, after two seasons at Lake Station.

“Everybody’s excited about a new beginning,” Hudak said. “It’s a brand-new school, brand-new facilities. Everybody’s excited about having new helmets and new shoulder pads and new uniforms. We just can’t wait to get going.

“You just want to make sure you’re doing the little things — tackling the right way, blocking the right way. As far as fancy-dancy plays, we’re nowhere near that. We’re still working on fundamentals and techniques. We’re still starting the foundation.”

Dean, who previously attended Hammond, said he has liked the way the players from different schools have meshed.

“Everybody has been really close,” he said. “It wasn’t the Clark kids with the Clark kids and the Hammond High kids with the Hammond High kids. Everyone was together. We know we have to work together.”

Daniel Reeves, a senior outside linebacker and wingback who had gone to Clark, agreed the process of coming together has been smooth.

“It’s all good vibes over here,” he said. “Once we got to know each other, it was good energy from the beginning.”

Hudak said the Wolves have more than 40 players on the roster, and he has encouraged them to try to recruit others to join the “core group” that has been dedicated throughout the spring and summer.

A class of 15 seniors has been “leading us in the right direction,” eager to ensure their “last ride” goes well, Hudak said.

He expects to have a full junior varsity schedule, a promising sign for the future.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Hudak said. “The expectations are just to go out and start the program and do what you can. Normally when you take over a program, you have two or three years trying to get things your way from the last coaching staff. There is no last coaching staff. This is the way it is. This is Hammond Central — jump on board. And that’s exciting.”

It hasn’t taken long for the players and coaches to connect.

“All I can say, the coaches are doing a great job,” Reeves said. “All I see is improvement and everybody getting better every day.

“It’s a good team to be around, especially the coaches. They bring good energy. If we do something wrong, they tell us. They don’t sugarcoat anything.”

Dean said the coaches have been providing rides for players if necessary and that team meals have furthered the bonding process.

The Wolves’ field is not ready, however, so they have been practicing at Gavit. Hudak anticipated playing their two scheduled home games at Morton.

Hammond Central has landed in a Class 5A sectional that includes Morton, Munster and Valparaiso.

“We’ve been working hard,” Dean said. “The way we play and how much heart we have, that can go a long way.”

The Wolves believe they can have a special debut season.

“We can accomplish a lot as long as we keep our heads focused,” Reeves said. “As long as we don’t let outside distractions get to us, we’ll be great.

“We have to go crazy. We’re the start of it, so we have to put in some work.”

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