Thursday, September 5, 2019

Redbird Football Preview | Week Two - @ Rock Island

Redbird Football Preview | Week Two - @ Rock Island, Metamora Herald

Rock Island, Ill. - With a convincing week one win in the books for the Metamora Redbirds (1-0) (0-0), it's time to look ahead to this week's opponent, the Rocks of Rock Island (0-1).

A quote from former Baltimore Raven Ray Lewis says "effort, nobody can judge effort. Effort is between you and you". Effort is something that Redbird coach Pat Ryan is confident will play a factor even more so than Week 1.

"Our effort, as far as how we played, we got after it pretty good, and we have to do that this week. Your margin of error is reduced."

The Rocks are coming off of a frustrating loss to Bradley-Bourbonnais by a score of 36-35. It's a loss that third-year head coach and Richwoods alum Ben Hammer says doesn't completely knock his players off course.

"The kids are resilient, man. Especially the kind of kids we have here at Rock Island. They were ready to bounce back by Monday."

Coach Ryan has high praise for the Rocks, especially on the defensive side of the ball, referring to the Rock Island defense as one of "tremendous speed". He'd go on to say that "all it takes is a little room, and they're capable of a big play at any time".

Another thing that Coach Hammer says can both help and hurt his team headed into Friday's matchup with the Redbirds is the familiarity factor. He believes that with the number of players the Rocks have coming back from the Metamora game in 2018, the experience will help, but he also acknowledged the hurt of losing 42-14.

"You've got to make sure they don't come out intimidated because Metamora had their way with us on offense last year."

A number as high as it is in regards to returning players doesn't exactly intimidate Ryan and the Redbirds, but it is something they've taken note of, for sure.

"Particularly on defense. I mean, they were pretty young on defense. Now, it seems like most of their youth is on offense. From an execution standpoint, we’re not going to get away with anything.”

The week one win for the Redbirds over Champaign Central, by 27 points no less, was something that Coach Ryan, as is the case with most if not all teams, still believe there are aspects of the play that still need to be improved on. For Metamora, he believes communication is key.

"All our blocking schemes have to be well-communicated. They move around on defense. They switch to a different defense where they’re more mobile. They’re going to come at you from different directions. We have to trust in what we do.”

One aspect of the Rocks' play that may be noticed fairly easily by Redbird fans is that the Rocks tend to use a two-quarterback system fairly interchangeably. That's something that Coach Ryan has noticed, but as mentioned earlier, won't necessarily phase the team.

"They’re both athletic. They’re both capable. One throws better than the other (Swift), there’s no secret about that.”

Ryan continued, “I think, in what you can pick up in one week, is that one quarterback has some strengths versus the other one. I think it’s important that the kids know that when one is in the game, they’re more likely to do something. If the other’s in the game, they’re more likely to do something else.”

In his preparations for the Redbirds, Hammer said that without discrediting the efforts of the other players on the Metamora roster, two players really stuck out to him. Quarterback Vinny Querciagrossa and TE/LB Ryne Begole. In fact, Coach Hammer says he has a connection with the Querciagrossa family.

"It's funny, because I worked with his (Vinny's) dad at Woodruff. Vinny Querciagrossa, he is a heck of a football player. We've got to keep him in the sandbox."

For those that don't know, the venue on Friday is something to behold, so you should make the trip if you are able. History like no other. In 1949, the venue, now called Almquist Field, named after former coach H.V. Almquist, hosted an exhibition game between the Green Bay Packers and the New York Bulldogs.

In 1949, the Packers were coached by famous head coach Curly Lambeau, now the namesake of the Packers' home stadium. In fact, 1949 was Lambeau's final year in Green Bay. When asked about walking the same sidelines as Lambeau, Hammer says it hasn't really set in.

"That's a pretty tremendous thing. Even to be in the same sentence, wow. The winning tradition, the high expectations. For us, you go all the way back to Coach Almquist, Coach Boblett. It's a kind of pressure you welcome."

With the big Bears-Packers game on Thursday, Hammer says his team will be locked in. He mentioned that the Rocks had practiced earlier on Thursday morning, allowing a time slot to watch the game, once after-school study hall is through.

"Lots of our position groups, coaches, kids, and managers, are getting together for some fellowship, share a meal, and watch that game."

As for how the Rocks side with the rivalry, Hammer says it's close, but there is a majority.

"Everyone's got Packers and Bears stuff on all over the place. I'd say we're pretty close to 2/3 Bears and 1/3 Packers."

Hammer himself? He sides with "da Bears", and the coaching staff is half and half.

On the Redbird side of things, Coach Ryan talked about how it was neat to see all the apparell throughout the building.

“It’s really cool. You walk around school today (Thursday) and you see a lot of Packers and bears paraphernalia. You talk to the Bears kid, and they’re confident they’re going to win, then you talk to the Packers kid, and they’re confident they’re going to win. It’s good for football.”

The Metamora @ Rock Island game kicks off this Friday, September 6th, at 7:30pm. A couple of important things for fans to note before making the drive:

- Spectator Parking | student parking lot in front of the school; 25th avenue
- Plan B Spectator Parking | Teacher Parking Lot; 23rd Avenue
- Plan C Spectator Parking | Streets Around the School
- Fans may tailgate in the student parking lot, but no grills are allowed. Tailgating must conclude by 6:45pm.
- Visitors seating is located on the west side of Almquist Field.
- NO backbacks/bookbags are allowed inside Almquist Field.

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