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Football: Schlemmer takes on coaching mentor in Ryan

Sterling's Logan Wharff tries to break a tackle during a game against Rochelle last season. The Golden Warriors open the season against Metamora on Friday at Roscoe Eades Stadium.
Sterling's Logan Wharff tries to break a tackle during a game against Rochelle last season. The Golden Warriors open the season against Metamora on Friday at Roscoe Eades Stadium.

On one sideline Friday night at Roscoe Eades Stadium will stand Pat Ryan.

The coach will start his 24th season with the Metamora Redbirds in Sterling. His resume in that tenure includes state titles in 2007 and 2009, five runner-up trophies and 20 playoff teams. In all, Ryan has gone 224-50.

On the other side of the field will be Jon Schlemmer. The Sterling coach enters his second season as the head coach for the Golden Warriors, after guiding the team to a 6-4 record in his inaugural season.

On paper, it might not seem like a fair coaching fight. On the field, there will be no letup despite a father-son type relationship between the two.

"He's a father-like figure to me," Schlemmer said of Ryan. "I have nothing but respect for him, and I know that when they roll into town on Friday, he's going to have his team ready to win."

Schlemmer played for Ryan, graduating from Metamora in 2002, and was a member of two runner-up teams in 1999 and 2000.

After serving as defensive coordinator under Greg King for 5 years, Schlemmer became Sterling's head coach after King resigned to spend more time with his family.

Now, he'll take on his alma mater, and he knows that his team will need to be crisp against the team ranked No. 9 in Class 5A to start the season.

"I don't think there will be any surprises in what they are going to do," Schlemmer said. "They are going to come in trying to run the ball, and they'll throw the ball now and then to keep you honest. They'll be disciplined, and they'll execute very well. It will be our challenge to stop them."

The fact that Schlemmer is going up against his coaching idol isn't lost on his players.

"We know this will mean a lot to him," Sterling linebacker Alex Soriano said. "We want for him to be able to go back and say that he beat the team that he played for."

Soriano knows that knocking off the Redbirds won't be easy. It's also not something the Warriors have historically had a lot success doing.

Metamora has won three of the previous four meetings, including bouncing the Warriors out of the playoffs in 1995 and 1999.

Sterling did win the last regular season meeting between the two squads in 2005.

Win or lose, the Warriors know that the matchup with the Redbirds will prepare them for some tough NIB-12 East crossover games against Kaneland and Rochelle in the coming weeks.

Sterling lost to both of those teams in blowout fashion a year ago.

"We know that playing well on Friday will give us confidence going into those other games," Soriano said. "When we played them last year, we weren't confident enough. As soon as those games were over, we started talking about getting better for this year."

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