They are the two most storied public schools over the last 40-plus years in football – Morris and Metamora. For the first time in the regular season Friday night, the Redskins and the Redbirds will meet for a gridiron battle.
“We knew when we set it up that it was going to be an interesting game,” Metamora coach Pat Ryan said. “We have a great respect for the Morris people here. For me that goes all the way back to playing my last game against Dan Darlington’s team in 1980.”
That playoff game in 1980 was the first time Morris and Metamora met and the Redskins beat the Redbirds 21-6. They have met three other times during the playoffs since, with Morris winning in 2001 (28-14) and in 2004 (21-7) before losing for the first time to Metamora in the 2007 state championship game (17-14).
History has little bearing on what is happening to the Redskins and Redbirds in 2013.
“The history of the two teams is great, but right now both teams are figuring out how to get better,” Ryan said. “But for the fan bases, we think it will be exciting. Because of the storms last week, we only had about 200 people at our game. I think it will be a lot different than that on Friday. We think there is going to be a big crowd on hand.”
Both teams lost their opener last Friday; Metamora losing to Sterling, 42-28.
“They are a very well-coached team. A team with a lot of tradition, a lot like ourselves,” Morris coach Alan Thorson said about Metamora. “We both have a Week 1 loss, so it’s one of those games where each team is trying to rebound off of a loss. It’s going to be a good game. We know that going in. Even though they lost we know they are a good team.”
If nothing else, tradition says so. In IHSA playoff history, Metamora has made 29 playoff appearances while capturing three titles and finishing runner-up seven times. Morris has made the playoffs 30 times with three titles and seven runner-up finishes.
“[The Redskins] have a quarterback and a lot of guys that can go after the ball. He throws to a lot of different people,” Ryan said. “We don’t know a lot about Minooka, but they seem to be a pretty good team. Even after [the Redskins] lost, we know they are a pretty good team.”
Metamora collected 22 first downs in its opening-day loss while running for 177 yards and passing for 123. Conversely, Morris had 13 first downs and 283 total yards.
Nick Holman completed 9-of-22 passes and was intercepted twice for Metamora. On the ground, Zach Rohrbach ran 14 times for 66 yards and a score and Matt Callear 10 carries for 31 yards, though Holman had the most carries (18) for 40 yards.
“Obviously, going in there is going to be a difficult environment to play in,” Thorson said. “Offensively they are very good at what they do. A lot of counter-trey and zone reads. You have to be disciplined because there is a lot of misdirection in the run game.
“They will put the ball in the air. They have a new quarterback because the other is out for the year, but the kid that they have in there does a good job. He doesn’t throw a bad ball. He’s also a very good runner. So, our defense really has to rise up this week and do a better job of tackling.”
Thorson said the key to Friday’s game is to come ready.
“Personnel-wise, we may make a couple of changes here and there, but the biggest adjustment is that we need to show up. We need to come out and play confident,” Thorson said. “A lot of kids got their first varsity start last week and now it’s time to start playing Redskins football. This week it’s about eliminating the mental mistakes and correcting the things that we don’t normally do. If we can do that, I’m confident the team can rebound.”