Two pickoffs twice as nice for cornerback Matt of PN-G
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PORT NECHES — It may help to be 6-5 and 310 pounds if football should be your sport. Then there’s the profile of Port Neches-Groves senior Colton Matt.
Every bit of 5-6 or 5-7, 140 pounds or so, the Indians cornerback brings such a little body to the gridiron that his No. 3 purple jersey likely figures to be ignored.
That’s fine with Colton. Try to ignore him. Go ahead. Try it. Beaumont Ozen quarterback London Durham would understand all about such stuff.
As the Indians captured their 31-15 district-opening win over Ozen on homecoming night at The Reservation, the true leader of the homecoming dance was this little Colton fellow with the dark hair.
The Panthers passer only wished that Matt had dressed up last Friday night as the Indian Spirit mascot.
With stakes high at this 22-4A opener, Matt merely turned in the best game of his life so far. He intercepted two passes, collected seven tackles and never permitted Ozen’s prolific passing game from beating him deep.
Now that PN-G (3-1 and 1-0) has been exposed to three pass-happy opponents — Brenham, Crosby and Ozen — in four games, Matt and his fellow Indians’ secondary members seem to be getting the hang of this coverage stuff. Understand that they won’t always be perfect, but they’re certainly a much improved area over the course of the season’s first month.
Success begins with preparation and the 17-year-old Matt realizes exactly how Tribe defensive coordinator and secondary tutor Pat Fischer’s comment “got the job done.”
You see, Fischer got inside Colton’s head by placing a bull’s eye on it.
“Coach said that I had a target on my head,” Matt recalled. “He said that I was the weaker corner and teams going to want to pick on me. I practiced hard all week because of that and then I got two interceptions. I guess that was the best way to show it.”
Hey, Matt’s folks should not be too tough on Fischer for that “weaker corner” business, either. Right corner Kenneth Tezeno of PN-G leads the 22-4A pass thieves with three interceptions. Smaller left corner Matt had none before the Ozen game. So it all made sense that the Panthers should go to work on him.
They did midway in the first quarter when PN-G lined up in a deep zone and Durham tried to go over the middle to receiver Cameron Ball. Matt used his athletic skills for a diving interception at the Ozen 37. First down for the Indians with 6:11 left in the first quarter. Before too long, PN-G led 7-0.
“We were in a deep half and I saw him (Ball) run straight down the field,” Matt recalled. “I keyed on Durham’s eyes and saw the receiver release outside. I just watched him and I didn’t try to score or anything. I just made sure that I secured the ball and watched it all the way into my hands.”
You think that feeling made all those practice hours worthwhile? You bet it did. Matt played half the time at free safety with Brian Domino. But it all means so much more, especially on homecoming night, when a senior steps up and performs as a hero.
Colton enjoyed his heroism so much that he returned for more of it early in the fourth quarter right smack in front of Ozen’s sideline. This time, Colton picked the pocket of the game’s leading receiver. Ozen’s Ronnie Fontenot was much taller and faster but Matt was in the right seam in PN-G’s zone.
“Every time he (Ozen’s quarterback) nodded his head, I saw him (Durham) look to him (Fontenot),” Matt explained. “I saw him get off the release and get behind our strong safety. Once I saw him, the pass was overthrown.”
Matt really had a good time once he intercepted that second one. He scooted 39 yards with the ball on a nice runback to Ozen’s 26 with 9:08 to play. A lost fumble kept the Indians from adding more points but at least they would chew up three more minutes of clock.
“I pretty much figured that was their last shot to come back,” he said.
The man who applied the bull’s eye is quite proud of his young corner. Pat Fischer likes the way little Colton competes.
“He’s very much a student of the game,” Fischer said of Matt. “He’s an overachiever…. a real diligent worker…. as big of a competitor as we have in our program.”
For more adventures of Colton Matt, tune in Friday night at Bear Stadium when the Indians travel for a 7:30 game at Little Cypress-Mauriceville.
INDIAN INKLINGS Starting inside backer Jacob Walker visited the doctor on Tuesday to check his knee ligament strain. Walker’s mobility looks better but he still needs a release to return to practice before he is able to absorb contact. His younger brother Kaleb played quite well in Jacob’s absence…. Strong safety Seth Wright is considered probable for LC-M after sustaining a twisted ankle…. The Indians are going with Harrison Tatum at QB for his first varsity start. The starter in the first four games, junior Drew Barnett is being looked at as both a wide receiver and a free safety. “We still want and believe that Drew will be a big part of our team,” Indians chief Matt Burnett said. “Drew handled it great and he’s still going to make a difference for the Indians.”….. Tackle leaders against Ozen were SS Seth Wright (5 first contacts and 6 assists), CB Colton Matt (5 and 0), LB Chris Fenton (4 and 4), as well as that young pup at tackle, Clint Burnett (3 and 6)….