Two student-athletes on the Quincy, Illinois High School soccer team have signed letters of intent to play this fall for the East Central College Falcons. Forward Brett Stiles and midfielder Zakariae Merzouk, who also play together on the Quincy United club team, will add to the Falcon's offensive attack, says ECC Head Soccer Coach Kean Barclay.

"Brett is a diverse player who can play both forward and midfield positions", Barclay said. ""He reads the game well, and he has a great attitude. I expect him to contribute in a number of ways for us."

Stiles played forward for Quincy High School, scoring 10 goals with 10 assists during his senior high school season. However, he says he prefers playing midfield. He says that is where he feels he can contribute the most to the team. Stiles will join two other friends from high school and club team who signed with ECC, including Clay Cunningham and Zakariae Merzouk.

"I love the campus, the coach and the soccer," Stiles said about his college choice. "That's what got me to come here. I've heard the coach helps us a lot after the two years. Everyone I've talked to has had a good experience here."

Quincy finished the season with a 19-3-1 record, reaching the regional finals. He was selected to the Academic All-Conference team. At ECC, Stiles said he is undecided on his course of study, but is interested in fire technology and science.

Zakariae Merzouk, another versatile soccer play from Quincy High School, also signed his letter of intent to attend ECC. An outside midfielder with Quincy High School and Quincy United, Merzouk is looking forward to playing for the Falcons, particularly his teammates from Quincy United and Quincy High School.

"Zac's got great ambition and sound technical ability that will enable him to play several roles for us," said ECC Coach Barclay. "It's also a positive to have team members who have played together for a couple of years. Zack, Brett and Clay will certainly help unite the team."

Zakariae, who immigrated to the U.S. from Morocco in 2009, received All-Conference honors at Quincy High School. He said he likes to play a simple passing game, looking for open teammates. East Central College, he said, will be a good fit.

"I want to be able to start at a small school," Merzouk said. "The coach tries to help people achieve what they want."

Zakariae's parents are both happy that their son has the opportunity to be able to attend college and play soccer, which is different back in their own country. Zakariae's father Abdelhamid Merzouk said the U.S. is the only country he knows where a student can earn a scholarship based on athletics.

Zakariae said he plans to study auto technology and continue his education and soccer career at a four-year institution.

Photo & Story by Bill Battle, Washington Missourian
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