WHEELERSBURG — He can run around you, he can run past you or he can run through you.
No matter the avenue you choose, you’re going to have a hard time bringing down Wheelersburg’s Makya Matthews in the open field. Defenders around the area learned that lesson the hard way on a week-to-week basis last fall.
This coming season, Matthews is back and better than ever. However, he’ll be missing a few of his key teammates from last season’s 12-2 version of the always battle-tested Pirates.
We caught up with him to discuss how he expects teammates to fill those holes, his expectations of himself, playing for coach Rob Woodward and much more.
Question: As football season gets closer and closer, what are your expectations, individually and team wise?
Matthews: Individually, I feel like my game has improved each year. So for this year, I expect to continue to work hard and continue to get better to help my team win games. Team wise, I want us to have a perfect season. Winning every game is very challenging, especially with our tough schedule. But that’s my expectation for the team. I truly believe we could make that happen.
Q: You guys are going to have to replace some pretty big holes, especially offensively. How much faith do you have in your teammates to do just that?
MM: We lost some talent in a few spots, but heart and work ethic is much more important than talent and that’s what we have this year. I’m so confident and have so much faith in the guys that will be filling those holes. There is a completely different mindset this year with the guys on the team. We have a team full of extremely hard workers and we understand that’s what it takes to be successful.
Q: Can you talk about what playing for coach Woodward is like?
MM: I wouldn’t want to play for anyone else and I think anyone who has played for him would agree. He has all of the qualities of an exceptional coach. He’s very hard-working, very determined and I’m pretty sure he’s a perfectionist. He makes sure he has the best staff, which is the best around. He makes sure we have the best equipment and we have very nice position specific equipment, too. He will do anything for the team to help us reach our full potential. I’m so grateful to have him as a coach.
Q: What’s your favorite thing about your position?
MM: They mostly play me at slot receiver, but if I could choose, I would definitely pick running back. The position is just so much fun and it just comes natural to me. It’s nice to just be back there in the middle by the quarterback. But when he hands me the ball, it’s a completely different feeling. My favorite thing about it is scoring touchdowns and the rush you get running down the field. I enjoy showing people that I can rush for touchdowns just as well or better than I can by receiving them. That’s easy to do with the offensive line I get to run behind.
Q: Your schedule is no joke, as usual. How does it prepare you for the postseason?
MM: Having a tough schedule is extremely important going into the playoffs. It prepares you for the challenges of the playoffs. Teams that make the playoffs but have easy regular season schedules usually lose in the first or second round. Playing challenging teams will be very beneficial for us this season.
Q: What is it like to play at Wheelersburg in front of a sold out crowd every Friday?
MM: I couldn’t imagine playing anywhere else around here because it would be sad for me. Our fans are so amazing and so enthusiastic, it makes it impossible not to be hyped at game time. The team just feeds off the energy that the fans bring. And I know it’s intimidating to the opposing team, which sometimes makes it difficult for them to come back from a deficit. It often makes it difficult for them to get pumped up from the beginning when they show up at our place.
Q: Overall, what can we expect to see out of Makya Matthews this season?
MM: You can expect to see me work extremely hard all season and do anything to help my team win games. Expect to see improvements in my game from week to week because that is what I expect of myself. Expect a show every game.
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