For years, Morris and Metamora have been as close to mirror images of each other as high school football programs could be. Both are middle-sized public school powerhouses performing in the shadows of a larger city (Joliet for Morris, Peoria for Metamora).
Both have had their private school nemeses (Joliet Catholic for Morris, Joliet Catholic and Providence for Metamora) that they have had trouble getting past.
So, it seems natural they should play each other. Last year, the Redskins traveled to Metamora after losing by a touchdown to Minooka and beat the Redbirds, 17-14, in another hard-fought game. This year, Morris is coming off a loss by a touchdown to Minooka as the Redbirds enter town for the Redskins’ home opener tonight. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
Last week, Metamora spotted Morris’ Northern Illinois Big 12 counterpart Sterling a 14-0 lead before erupting for four unanswered touchdowns to beat the Golden Warriors, 29-14.
On the flip side, Morris took the opening kickoff Friday night and ran off a 12-play drive that covered 71 yards and resulted in a touchdown before Minooka countered with four unanswered touchdowns of their own.
Morris scored twice in the fourth quarter to bring the game to 28-21.
One of the reasons for Morris’ offense going cold in the middle two quarters was the Minooka defense. Another was the absence of running back Jake Walker, who was the main focus on the opening drive, but twisted an ankle later on and did not play in the second half at all. He appears to be ready to go for Friday night, however.
“If [last Friday] was a playoff game, Jake would have kept playing,” Morris coach Alan Thorson said. “But at this point of the season, with that being the first game, we didn’t want to risk him injuring it any further, so we sat him in the second half.”
In other action Friday night, Minooka visits Providence, as both teams beat their arch-rivals the week before. Minooka upended Morris, while Providence topped Joliet Catholic Academy.
In the past, the Celtics utilized a bruising running game to control the game, but they have a pair of Division I-bound receivers in Miles Boykin (Notre Dame) and Nate Vejvoda (Iowa) that are the main weapons for quarterback Justin Hunniford.
On top of that, their defense held down the always strong JCA running attack, which may limit the opportunities for Minooka’s Nathan Gunn, who ran for 161 yards and four touchdowns against Morris. That will leave things in the hands of sophomore quarterback John Carnagio, who completed 17 of 24 passes for 253 yards against Morris.
“It doesn’t get any easier,” Minooka coach Paul Forsythe said about this week’s game against Providence. “But, if we want to make the playoffs, these [Morris and Providence] are the types of teams we will see when we get there. So, we need to know where we stand and what types of improvements or adjustments we need to make.”
Another rivalry game is on tap Friday night as Coal City plays host to Wilmington. The Coalers’ Jack Dibble ran for 200 yards and three touchdowns in a 27-13 win over Reed-Custer a week ago, while Wilmington downed Sandwich, 39-14. But, when the Coalers and Wildcats get together, records and past results can get thrown out the window as both teams circle the date.
Seneca plays host to downstate Nokomis on Saturday, having pulled out a 14-7 win over Dwight last week. Casey Pfifer led the Irish with 98 yards rushing.