J.J. Metz attended Canyon del Oro football games regularly as a young boy; there, he watch Dorados teams that acted like families and made runs at state championships.
Metz, a Dorados senior, can continue that tradition tonight, when CDO travels to face top-seeded Gilbert Williams Field in the Division III state quarterfinals.
After finishing the 2012 season 4-6, the No. 8 Dorados (10-1) have gotten back to their winning ways.
Last weekend’s playoff victory secured their sixth 10-win season in the last nine years.
“Just to get back in the rhythm of things, where we belong as a CDO team, feels good,” Metz said.
Metz has been a star at tight end for the Dorados this season, catching 30 passes for 952 yards and 11 touchdowns. He etched his name in CDO’s record book for single-season receiving yards, receiving touchdowns and an average of 31.8 yards per reception.
Metz had a 99-yard touchdown reception in last week’s 34-31 win over ninth-seeded Gilbert Higley; the play stands as the longest in school history.
Senior quarterback Jordan Closs-Lopez has been throwing passes to Metz since the seventh grade. The duo has combined for 40 percent of Closs-Lopez’s completions.
“He’s just a big target, and he makes it easy for me,” Closs-Lopez said. “He’s got the biggest hands I’ve ever seen. He likes to go up and get the ball. He’s a good route-runner and he can get off blocks.”
Metz’s biggest improvement has come between the ears, coach Dusty Peace said.
“For him, its attitude. Its the way he’s approached this season,” Peace said. “He wasn’t a leader last year; now he is the leader.
“He’s assumed that role and has done an excellent job with it.”
The Dorados occasionally use Metz as a running back, too. He has rushed 25 times for 353 yards and two touchdowns. He also starts on defense at inside linebacker.
“He’s versatile, we hand him the ball off, we throw him the ball, we do whatever we can to get him the ball,” Peace said.
One of Metz’s best skills is his ability to move defensive linemen and make room for running backs.
“He blocks just as good as our offensive linemen,” Peace said.
Metz, a team captain, isn’t focused on the records or numbers in the midst of CDO’s playoff run. Tonight, he’s just hoping to get the Dorados back to the state semifinals for the fourth time since 2008.
It will be a challenge against a 10-1 Williams Field team.
“As of right now, I’m not really focused on that. I’m focused on what our team will do and the outcome,” Metz said.
“All the stats are fine, but, I mean, I could go the rest of the season without touching the ball and be fine, as long as my team does well.”