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His day has come

By JAMAL THALJI, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published October 4, 2002

TRINITY -- In the story of Mitchell fullback Rob Metz is a lesson for all football players to heed.

Work hard, practice hard, play hard, and your day will come.

For Metz it came when fullback/linebacker Derek Shortz suffered a season-ending broken left arm days before the start of the season. As a junior, Metz didn't work hard at football. But in his senior year, he was determined to contribute. His hard work was about to pay off.

His moment came in the second half of a 21-17 loss to Ridgewood on Sept. 20. Mitchell was down 25-9 with 11 minutes, 29 seconds left in the third quarter when the offense took the field.

What followed was the defining moment of Mustang football, an 18-play, 80-yard drive that ate up 10:12 off the clock. Metz carried the ball 11 times for 42 yards and scored the Mustangs' first offensive touchdown of the season.

Metz is now the Mustangs' leading rusher with 193 yards and three touchdowns, averaging 5.4 yards per carry for a 1-3 second-year program that is suddenly potent entering tonight's Class 4A, District 6 game at River Ridge.

"We preach that all the time, that nothing's etched in stone," Mustangs coach Scott Schmitz said. "If you work hard in practice, you open coaches' eyes in practice. You don't do it in the game.

"I always tell our kids, "You're not going to get a chance to show what you can do in a game if you don't show us in practice.'

"Robert is a good example. He has worked very hard this season and he gives us a pretty good 1-2 punch with Ricky Moise. They get 32-34 carries a game now. That's pretty good work out of your fullback."

Metz, a 5-foot-10, 170-pound senior, who also starts at weakside linebacker, said he prepares, practices and plays the game with a passion he didn't have last season.

"Last year, I really didn't work as hard," he said. "I just felt like I didn't want it as much, and now I want it more than anything. I just needed to step it up and work hard at whatever I did and earn it.

"If I see someone coming at me, I want to hit them."

Metz is just one piece of the puzzle Schmitz had to reassemble after a season-opening 24-3 loss to Zephyrhills. First he shuffled the offensive line, but it wasn't until the Ridgewood game that he discovered a fullback who could earn the tough yards between the tackles in Mitchell's Wing-T offense.

"I think the thing that Robert has done is, he has given us a push," Schmitz said. "I don't think Robert's lost a yard on any single carry this year. He runs hard. He's a strong kid and he gives us that real push, especially near the goal line.

"He's scored three touchdowns and really hasn't been turned away down there and you need that from your fullback. He's given us a toughness at that position."

And the Mustangs' are deep at that position.

"It isn't so much that Ricky (Moise) lost the job," Schmitz said. "It's that Robert won it."

Metz said he just gave the offensive line a hand when it needed it. They do all the work, but he has been able to reward their efforts. When his moment came in the Ridgewood game, he said, it arrived for the entire unit as well.

"It was great," Metz said. "We felt like a team. It felt like we came out to play. It felt like every piston was firing at the same time. We just wanted to win.

"We were great after that."

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