Metamora football team starts with strong challenge

Adam Larck Woodford Times
Dekota Doerr looks to be one of the key returners for the Redbirds this season.

Few week one challenges will be as hard in the Mid-Illini Conference as Metamora’s is.

The Redbirds kick off the football season Friday by hosting Richwoods, last year’s Class 6A State runner-up.

With a tough team challenging Metamora at home, head coach Pat Ryan said that practices getting ready for the Knights have been going really good.

“We really haven’t had much of a choice considering how we open up,” Ryan said. “I think Richwoods sees themselves as a state contender and with the guys they have coming back, rightly so. It’s really kept us focused. I think that, and the break in the weather, have been the two things that really helped us lock in.”

Also keeping the Redbirds focused is memories from last year’s postseason. After bowing out in the first round of the playoffs last year, the Redbirds are motivated to get back to Champaign this year.

“We kind of worked off of that since then and here we go again,” Ryan said. “I’m really happy with how they’ve been working together and we’re excited to bring a great team in next week. We have a great opportunity to play a great team and see where we’re at.”

Metamora should return a strong offensive line from last year, which will help keep opposing offenses off the field. A bit of a question could remain on the defensive end, though.

“We’re fairly inexperienced on defense,” Ryan said. “We have one returning starter. We’re making progress.”

Key returners from last year include Mid-Illini All Conference selections Jack Friedrich and Dekota Doerr. Ryan didn’t want to single any players out, though.

“It’s going to be one of those deals where we’ve been stressing that they’re all key players,” he said. “Anybody that’s willing to do what we ask them to do is a key player.”

One player that won’t be on the field this year will be Zach Mason, who’s rehabbing from a knee injury. However, Ryan does expect him back next season.

Going into Friday’s game, Ryan looks to work on conditioning to try and stifle cramps and other common problems that happen in the first week.

“We’re just excited to get going again,” Ryan said. “We need a game. By Friday, regardless, we’re going to need to play football. You can only practice so much.”