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EDWARDSVILLE - Metro East Lutheran head coach Mike Koch said before the game that tonight would be different than their previous three games this season. What he saw on the field might have impressed even him, as the Metro East Lutheran Knights captured a big home victory on Friday night, winning 42-16.
“I’m biased, but I think we have two all-state players.” said Koch following the victory. “You add two all-state players into the mix, everything’s different. Flip (Rodrick Holmes) showed why he’s one of the best players in the state. There’s no hiding him anymore. Ricardo (Holton) took a while to get going, but he’s an elite player. It’s really about finding those guys and getting them in positions to make plays.”
The return of Rodrick “Flip” Holmes and Ricardo Holton were huge additions coming into Friday night's contest against the Galva Wildcats. Holmes got the scoring started with a huge 82-yard touchdown on the very first play from scrimmage for Metro East Lutheran.
“Everything we’re seeing here, we see it in practice.” Koch said postgame. “It’s now about getting to that point in the games and doing what they know they need to.”
Holmes wasn't finished there, on defense in the first quarter he snatched a bad Galva option pitch out of the air and took it to the house for his second score of the game. He added another receiving touchdown on offense for an impressive three on the evening.
Ricardo Holton, the senior running back and linebacker, was a welcome presence in the offense tonight, giving the spread attack of the knights some balance. He was rewarded for his efforts in the 4th quarter, taking a wildcat formation run up the middle for a 45-yard score.
The visiting Galva Wildcats relied on their fullback Jett Olson as they have for most of the season so far, however he did not find the end zone on Friday. It was freshman Blake Stahl finding paydirt for the Wildcats, with two touchdowns, including a 55-yard pitch, catch and run that gave Galva hope in the 4th quarter, but ultimately fell short.
A big victory for the Knights in front of the home crowd on homecoming night, no less. Mike Koch believes this could be a platform for the rest of their season.
“We’re finally whole, we finally have everything.” Koch stated. “Now I think it’s time to start taking those steps. The next two games (against South Fork/Edinburgh/Morrisonville and Blue Ridge/DeLand-Weldon) are games I believe we can compete well in. Then we get to Pawnee and Decatur Lutheran which should be our two toughest games so far.”
At full strength, Metro East Lutheran has renewed optimism for the rest of the season. If Friday is any indication, they're a dynamic team that can exploit the open spaces on the narrower 8-man field.
Metro East Lutheran is back in action on the road next Saturday, traveling to Kinkaid, Illinois to take on the Ponies of South Fork/Edinburgh/Morrisonville with a 1 p.m. kickoff.