Morrow takes the helm of Redbird soccer

Drew Veskauf TimesNewspapers
Metamora junior Clay Jones steps back for a corner kick last season. Jones contributed six goals in 2013.

A new head coach but familiar face will be seen on the sidelines for the Metamora boys varsity soccer team this season. Justin Morrow accepted the position earlier this summer and is excited to get a new, and lengthy, program established for Metamora.

Morrow has been with Metamora since 2007 as the JV coach and assistant coach at the varsity level and teaches English at the school.

After playing all four years at Hinckley-Big Rock High School as an outside back, Morrow had a knee surgery and decided to focus on academics in college. He graduated from Monmouth College with a degree in English and education.

Morrow said he was excited to accept the position as head coach. He is preceded by Sirkan Bakirdan, head coach for the 2012 and 2013 season. Bakirdan resigned mid way through the 2013 season and Dave Toniny took the helm for the remainder.

“It’s been a fabulous experience. The administration is very supportive and Metamora is a top notch coaching staff, so it’s a very good experience,” Morrow said.

Morrow said he would like to retire from Metamora, coaching throughout his career.

“I hope that I’m able to enjoy the future generations of the new players,” Morrow said. “But definitely, we want stainability.”

On and off the field, Morrow is looking for his players to give it all they can and to help develop them for later in life.

“Our schools very much behind being thinkers. You think independently and provide perspective,” Morrow said.

“It’s just like life, you take brave risks and you work for one another. You build something larger.”

In the 2013 season, the Redbirds finished third in the Mid-Illini Conference. The season ended with a 1-0 loss to Richwoods in the regional semifinals.

“I was very proud of the way the varsity team under Dave Toniny came out,” Morrow said. “They came out with heart and class, they did not quit and they were loud. I thought it was an excellent showing and I felt a tremendous 

amount of pride.”

Metamora had nine seniors graduate this past school year, eight were starters on the varsity soccer team.

Danny Ausman led the Redbirds with 16 goals and Mikey Hernadnez finished with six.

Incoming juniors Clay Jones, six goals in 2013, and Parker Phillips, two goals, will help in the Redbirds 2014 season, Morrow said.

“Eight of our 11 starters are gone but Parker and (Jones) stepped up last year and the hope this year is that they step forward and progress,” Morrow said.

2013 senior Nate Lee was in the net.

Two potential goal keepers, Owen Greenfield and Josh Clausen, are two options seeking for the position, Morrow said.

“It’s been back and forth, neck and neck all summer. They’ve worked hard, they’ve worked at home. Both of them are very eager to help and serve the team,” Morrow said.

“That’s probably one of the tightest position battles right now. They’ve done everything the right way.”

Morrow said he’s excited to enter another year in the M-I and to compete with some of the top area teams.

“I think we have a great soccer conference and its only getting better,” Morrow said. “The pride in the area soccer is at an all-time high.”

Morrow will be assisted by Elizabeth Gualandry, who has worked with the girls and boys soccer teams for several years.

The Redbirds will open the season against Mahomet-Seymour Tuesday at home.