Friday night notebook

Tom Batters
Andrew Jones

Metamora senior kicker Brennen VanMieghem could have used this opportunity to bask in the glory of his new record.

But, when I asked him how it felt to have the most extra points in the history of Illinois high school football (he broke the record Friday night), VanMieghem looked at it this way:

“It’s a team record. Somebody has to score the touchdown first. Then, somebody has to snap the ball and somebody else has to hold it. My name is on the record, but I couldn’t have gotten anywhere near the record if I didn’t have such great teammates,” he said.

A few hours earlier, VanMieghem’s younger brother, Prestin, kicked the game-winning field goal as time expired in the Metamora freshman game.

“I was watching from the far corner, and I didn’t know what was going on, and then I saw him put his tee down to kick,” VanMieghem said. “It was nice to see him make it.”

So, who is the better kicker in the family?

“He (Prestin) hasn’t been doing it as long as I have, but he’s going to be a great kicker,” VanMieghem said of his younger brother. “He might break some records, too.”

VanMieghem has 218 career extra points.

Reeder’s block

Senior Andrew Jones described his 37-yard interception return for a touchdown as a “gift from heaven.”

“I read the play perfectly, and moved when the back moved, so the ball came right to me,” he said. “Kyle Reeder delivered a great block, so I could just run right into the end zone.”

It was the first career interception touchdown for Jones, who also had a crucial quarterback sack earlier in the game.

“We have a veteran defense, and we knew we could make some plays,” he said. “Our linebackers (Tom Bieneman and Bryan Love) played a tremendous game. They plugged the gaps, and didn’t allow any long runs.”

Jones’s sack seemed to turn the momentum in Metamora’s favor after the Redbirds got off to a sluggish start.

“I don’t know what happened early in the game,” he said. “It was ugly. But, we never lost confidence. We wore them down. By the second half, they were gassed.”

On the Mark

Senior Mark McDaniel intercepted a pass on Central Catholic’s first possession of the second half. The Redbirds scored three plays later to take a 20-10 lead.

“They had a guy cutting across the middle. I got in trouble earlier, for leaving that guy open, so I closed in on him and the ball came to me,” McDaniel said.

In stride

Senior wide receiver Brett McKinney caught just one pass (the Redbirds only attempted two passes), but it was a good one.

McKinney cut to the inside and caught the pass from senior quarterback Michael Fay over his right shoulder. Then, he made a move on the cornerback and broke free for a 60-yard touchdown.

“I knew the defender was right on me, so I just tried to get free and get into open space,” McKinney said. “He (Fay) threw a perfect pass.”

I asked McKinney if he wished the Redbirds passed the ball more often, and he paused for a second before answering.

“Coach Ryan knows what he is doing. We have had a lot of success running the ball,” he said. “When we do pass the ball, it catches the other team off guard, and it works.”

Sweet redemption

Senior David Tracy made up for his first-quarter fumble when he came up with a big interception with 3:46 left in the third quarter.

“We expect a little more from our defense,” said Metamora coach Pat Ryan. “That’s where we have the most experience. That’s where we have guys who can step up and make big plays. Our offense is a little more green. It may take a little more time for that to get going.”

Senior Drew Cullett also sacked the quarterback in the second half for a nine-yard loss. On the very next play, Jones returned an interception for a touchdown.

Just another game

Ryan became the 38th coach in state history to win 200 games.

After the game, his brother,  assistant coach Curt Ryan, gathered the team together for a picture with the coach.

Some of the players held up their index finger, as if to say, “We’re No. 1.”

Ryan said the No. 1 was appropriate, for a different reason.

“No. 1 is right. We have to win one more game next week. That’s the one that is important right now,” he told his players. “Forget about 200. Let’s focus on one.”

Ryan down played the significance of his 200th win, but his players didn’t.

“He deserves that win,” McDaniel said. “He’s a great coach, and we’re happy for him.”

VanMieghem said it was “pretty cool” to be a part of the milestone victory.

“Coach Ryan has done so much for all of us,” VanMieghem said. “It’s pretty cool that we could be the ones who got him this win.”

Keeping it clean

Ryan was upset at the officials when it appeared that Central Catholic was taking too much time for injury timeouts.

When a Central Catholic player went down with a leg cramp, it took more than seven minutes for the trainer to stretch the cramp and assist the player off the field.

“Come on. Its only a cramp. Get them off the field,” Ryan barked. “It’s not like it’s a broken leg or a concussion ... I bet he’ll come right back in the game on the next play.”

Sure enough, that player did return on the next play.

In an age when football coaches spew obscenities and hurl insults at officials, Ryan, no matter how intense he got, still kept it clean.

“Gosh dang it!” was one of his more popular “expletives.”

Even after berating the official over the injury timeouts, Ryan smiled at the ref and joked, “Hey, we have a John Deere tractor here. We could use that to get the player off the field.”

The official smiled, and there were no hard feelings.

A few seconds later, Ryan huddled his defense together and screamed, “Keep you eyes up and don’t allow any run- throughs! Gosh dang it! Let’s show some mental toughness. Come on! Let’s go!”

The jokes were over. It was back to business.

Up next...

Metamora plays South Elgin at Streamwood High School Saturday.

South Elgin, which has an enrollment of 2,647 students, is a Class 7A school.

South Elgin beat St. Charles North, 52-13, Friday night.

Senior quarterback John Menken threw three touchdown passes in the first half and Bradley Birchfield rushed for a pair of scores and returned a punt 57 yards for a touchdown.

South Elgin had two rushers gain more than 100 yards. Adolfo Pacheco gained 230 yards on 11 carries and Birchfield rushed for 127 yards on 15 carries.

Head coach Dale Schabert is in his fifth season. After going 0-9 in his first year, and 3-6 in his second and third seasons, he led the Storm to a 7-3 record last year. They lost, 28-16, to St. Charles North in the first round of the Class 7A playoffs.