TriCounty In Pat Ryan's 20th season as head coach at his high school alma mater, the 13-1 Redbirds rebounded from their first regular-season loss since 2005 to claim their second state title in three years.
Metamora's 41-7 win over Geneseo in the Class 4A state championship game was the most lopsided of the eight finals played at Memorial Stadium in Champaign.
The Redbirds finished with 12 straight victories after suffering a 28-7 loss to eventual 5A quarterfinalist Washington in Week 2. The decision, which ultimately determined the Mid-Illini Conference championship, snapped Metamora's 35-game Mid-Illini winning streak.
The 4A playoff assignment was the first for Metamora, enrollment 985, since the state series was expanded from six to eight classes in 2001. The Redbirds were in 5A from 2001 through 2008, including when they won their first title under Ryan in `07.
In Pat Ryan's 20th season as head coach at his high school alma mater, the 13-1 Redbirds rebounded from their first regular-season loss since 2005 to claim their second state title in three years.
Hockey was a sport local fans could watch only if they went to Chicago or St. Louis until BardezBanian founded the Peoria Stars in 1959.
The two were with the Pekin Stars until 1970, when they formed the Peoria Blades, on the outdoor rink at Logan, in 1971. The Logan "bubble" went up the next year and the Blades, through membership in the Continental League, gave Peoria a solid taste of hockey.
BardezBanian played with the Blades for a few years, then became president while Olson always served as the team's general manager.
And the two gave hockey a boost whenever they could. BardezBanian coached the Bradley University club team for many years and both were instrumental in starting and maintaining youth hockey in Pekin and Peoria.
Both are now retired, Olson from Caterpillar's Mossville plant and BardezBanian from a management position with the City of Peoria.