Thursday, August 23, 2018

Metamora Football starts 2018 season tomorrow

Metamora Head Coach Pat Ryan looks on during his interview on Monday afternoon. His 29th season as the Head Coach of the Redbirds kicks off on Friday night in Champaign. PHOTO / ALEX STAAB

Metamora, Ill. - The signs are up, all over town. The excitement is up. The only thing left is for the 2018 season for Metamora Football to kick off.

The Metamora Redbirds are coming off a season in which they missed the playoffs, something that looms large for this year’s team. Not only that, in 2017, the Redbirds started (0-4). 29th-year Head Coach Pat Ryan says that the start certainly made him “disappointed”. He added that “you don’t ever take for granted something that’s been part of what we’ve done”, referring to the rich history of Metamora’s football program, and not making the playoffs.

A key player for the Redbirds will definitely be 6’8” quarterback Thomas Hall. Ryan cited the team’s offensive coordinator, Nick Delinski, as a big help with Hall for his time at the position at the varsity level, but another familiar face is also helping.

Former Redbird quarterback Caleb TerBush has taken Hall ‘under his wing’, and Ryan says he’s quite impressed with what TerBush has been able to do with Hall, saying that given “Caleb has played at a high level, I think that’s helped a lot”.

A quality 7-on-7 season over the summer months is something for the Redbirds to be pleased with at well. According to Ryan, competition at all sorts of levels, some 4A, 6A, even 7A teams that went a decent ways into the playoff bracket in 2017 were opponents of the Redbirds. The best part, Ryan discussed, is the numerous things that they discovered about the 2018 team along the way.

“It gave us a chance for a little more depth in the secondary. We also found out that we got some guys that can run, and we have some speed to take the cap off of the coverage.”

It doesn’t stop there for Metamora. Other areas like “big guys that can catch in space” and “more perimeter guys then we have had” are positives to look forward to this fall. 

The most recent polls released by the Associated Press featured two Mid-Illini teams in the top 10. Not only top 10, they’re the top two. Those would be Dunlap coming in at #2 after a 5A runner-up trophy in 2017, while Washington enters Week 1 as the top-ranked team in 5A, bowing out in the 5A semifinals at the hands of Dunlap, by a score of 21-0. Ryan says that there’s a group of teams that there’s a need to keep an eye on.

Just to name a few, Ryan mentioned that “Dunlap’s going to get that confidence like what we had”. In talking about the Pekin Dragons, he said they’re “probably under the radar”, but could make some noise. East Peoria has a second-year head coach in Erik Black, with Ryan adding that he now has a “chance to build his program”. 

The non-conference schedule is one that the Redbirds like. Week 1 features Champaign Central on the road, and Week 2 features Rock Island at home. Two different teams in two different conferences, but one quality sticks out, according to Coach Ryan.

“We’re going to see a lot of speed. There’s no question about that.”

The Week 1 game at Champaign Central kicks off at 7:00 pm from the newly renovated Tommy Stewart Field in Champaign. Directions from Metamora High School and more information will be featured in tomorrow’s Week 1 Preview. 

Follow Metamora Football on Twitter (@MTHSFootball)
Follow Alex Staab on Twitter (@StaabAlex)

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