Reece Metcalf had just made Mt. Carmel football history by setting the record for most passing yards in a single season. As soon as the game was over, the first person to greet him on the field was Luke Drone, who had held the mark since 2002.
“He congratulated me on breaking his record,” said Metcalf of the brief meeting after Mt. Carmel’s 42-7 victory over Mt. Vernon.
There was little doubt that the record would fall, with Metcalf only 50 yards shy of Drone’s mark at the start of the night. A 39-yard pass to Levi Laws early in the second quarter rewrote the record book.
But Metcalf wasn’t done yet. He wound up with 311 yards to finish with a regular-season total of 2,269 yards. Drone’s mark was set in 14 games, while Metcalf will get a chance to add to the record when the Aces open play in the IHSA Class 4A state tournament on Saturday at Columbia.
Drone and Metcalf have worked together in the recent past. “I got the privilege to work with him last year” when Metcalf was a sophomore backup, Drone said. “You could tell he was a hungry kid, wanting to get better and always looking for chances to improve his craft.”
Metcalf said he appreciated Drone’s lessons in general, and on footwork in particular. “He helped me out a lot with footwork, which helped me get this record,” Metcalf said.
“Give credit to the coaches and the other players on this team. To be a good quarterback and to have good numbers like that, you have to have a lot of things go good together,” Drone said.
“They’re putting Reece in good situations, and the receivers are running good routes. He’s making the plays. It’s a great thing to see him get these kind of numbers.”
What makes Metcalf’s huge numbers – he had the third highest total in the state prior to the game – even more impressive is that the new spread offense has been a work in progress the whole time.
“It’s a new offense, and you have to test the waters a bit,” Drone sad. “Once they saw the success they were having with it, and when you have a guy like Reece throwing the ball, why not throw every play.”
Drone’s later accomplishments have been well documented. Following a stellar career at Illinois State University, he was signed as a free agent by the Buffalo Bills of the NFL. After a brief stay there, Drone embarked on a career in the indoor arena game, which included stints with Peoria in the af2, Bloomington in the IFL, and in the major league AFL with Dallas and Chicago, where he started one game for the Rush during the recently completed 2012 season.
It “would have been fun” to throw in the spread offense had the Aces employed it during his career at the Hilltop, Drone said. “We spread it out a little my senior year, but we didn’t throw this many times.”