Matthews rubs Owings Mills right way

October 02, 1990|By Mike Preston

On game day, Owings Mills High School's Martin Matthews does everything except give out the water.

Matthews is the team's leading rusher. He's also one of the Eagles' leading tacklers, as well as the top punt and kickoff returner. He's on every special team, except the kickoff unit.

And he's one of the main reasons Owings Mills is 3-1 for the first time since 1986.

"He was one of their ballplayers that separated us from them," said Sparrows Point football coach Russ Lingner, whose team Matthews ran against for 189 yards. "He's a good all-around ballplayer, and everything seemed so natural to him as a running back. He seems to be a step ahead of every other kid at that position right now."

Matthews, a 5-foot-10, 175-pound junior halfback, has rushed for 450 yards and five touchdowns on 44 carries for 10.2 yard average. As a defensive end, he has 21 tackles.

After a game, it's usually a trip to the refrigerator for some ice and to the closet for the rubbing ointment.

"There are a lot of times I get tired out there," said Matthews, "but it's a team game. You just suck it up and give your best. You always want to do what is best for the team."

Matthews' motivation comes from coach Ray Groszkowski, his toughest critic. It's not unusual to hear Groszkowski yelling at Matthews, even after the game's outcome has been decided.

"The potential for him to be a major college prospect is there," said Groszkowski. "He's got ability, but we need to bring it out more. He's talented already, but, hopefully, by the time he is a senior, he'll be outstanding. Even if he doesn't make it as a running back, he can as a receiver because he has great hands."

Matthews excels more at running back than at defensive end. He was timed on a wet field in 4.6 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

"I think I can run it a little faster," he said.

Matthews credits his offensive line -- center Steve Hillman, guards Clint Helphenstine, Kirk Snyder and tackles Jon Kaplan and Damon Thorington.

Matthews says fullback Matt Herman has taken some pressure off him by gaining 221 yards on 34 carries, mostly up the middle.

Though Matthews prefers to play running back, he's also been effective on defense. He lacks experience at defensive end, a critical position when the opposition has outstanding speed.

Matthews can answer speed with speed.

Example: Last Thursday against Patapsco, Matthews got hooked to the inside by the tight end as a Patriots' runner started outside. Matthews recovered, ran the ball carrier down at the line of scrimmage, took the ball out of runner's hands and ran for what seemed to be a 90-yard touchdown. A referee ruled the touchdown didn't count because he inadvertently had blown a whistle thinking the ball had touched the ground.

"Everyone wants to be a complete ballplayer," said Matthews. "I want to play as many downs as possible."

Sometimes, though, he can't. Matthews bruised his ribs in the season opener against Mount Hebron and has been nursing a sprained ankle since preseason practice.

It's nothing a little rubbing ointment can't handle.

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