Metamora football 2010

Tom Batters
Tom Bieneman

METAMORA — Tom Bieneman made four solo tackles during Metamora’s 41-7 win over Geneseo in the Class 4A state championship game last November.

Each one of those tackles hurt — a lot.

Bieneman broke his arm in the first round of the playoffs, three weeks earlier, but he didn’t know it was broken.

He felt the pain. But he kept playing, and tackling.

“I didn’t find out it was broken until after the season,” he said. “It was a little painful at times. I just wanted to keep playing as hard as I could. I didn’t want to let the pain slow me down.”

Bieneman and senior Bryan Love, one of the captains, return as starting linebackers in 2010.

Metamora coach Pat Ryan said they are “light years ahead” of last year, and other teams might have their hands full if they expect to get past those linebackers.

“We are very strong at that position. Tommy and Bryan have the skills and experience that will make them a big part of our defense this year.”

Love missed the middle part of last season with a shoulder injury. He came back strong during the playoff run.

“Bryan has that natural instinct that allows him to get to the ball quickly. We missed that when he was hurt,” Ryan said. “Tommy has always been a real good step-up linebacker. This summer, at our June camp, we saw a noticeable improvement in his lateral movement, which is encouraging.”

Bieneman and Love recovered from their injuries. Both said they are looking forward to the season.

“I think it’s going to be a great year,” Bieneman said. “Having Bryan (Love) right there next to me helps a lot. He is such a hard worker.”

Love said junior Vince Fraboni, who started some games last year as a sophomore, adds one more explosive linebacker to the mix.

“We lost some great players on defense (David Kuhne, Jesse Mischler, etc.), but we have a lot of talent coming back,” Love said. “We’re going to have one of the toughest defenses in the conference.”

Ryan said it helps to have so much experience at the linebacker position, because the Redbirds’ defensive game plan could change each week, especially come playoff time.

“Last year, Rochester (Class 4A semifinal opponent) was a spread out team, so Tommy (Bieneman) didn’t get to play a lot. Then, Geneseo was a Wing T team, so we needed our linebackers a lot more, and Tommy was right back in there,” Ryan said.

Ryan said Love will likely see some action on offense, too, as the Redbirds look for options to replace Aaron Peters, the school’s all-time leading rusher who graduated last year.

“He might get some carries,” Ryan said. “We’ll have to find a good balance there. We don’t want to wear him out.”

Bieneman and Love both started playing JFL football when they were little boys. Both said it was a dream come true to win the state championship last year.

“I came to all the games when I was little, and I remember seeing all the fans and feeling all the excitement. Ever since I was little, I wanted to be a part of that,” Bieneman said. “Coming out of that tunnel (at Memorial Stadium) was an experience of a lifetime. I hope I get to do it one more time.”