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August 8, 2012 by Elaine Maes (Register to contact)


Football: Rishard Matthews

April 16, 2009 by Victor Mendez (Register to contact)

After all, the closest any blue-chip football players usually get to their school is when they pass through the city on their way to Santa Ana Mater Dei.

"I thought he was a coach," said senior Joaquin Avalos, the second-year starting quarterback.

Avalos was right about one thing: Matthews has looked like a man among boys since his arrival from New Mexico, where he was considered one of the state's best returning players.

Since sitting out Saddleback's first game while waiting to become eligible, Matthews has intercepted a state-leading nine passes and scored 10 touchdowns, including eight on pass receptions.

The Roadrunners, who have not won a playoff game since 1988, are 4-3 overall, 2-0 in the Golden West League.

More important, teammates say, Matthews has improved everybody's work ethic.

"He has really made us work harder," said senior Steven Kroth, a returning starter at defensive end. "We know we have a weapon over there."

Matthews, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound senior who plays receiver, safety and returns kicks, said he moved to Southern California so he could re-join his father, Andre, who recently retired as a master sergeant in the Marine Corps.

They had lived together in the San Joaquin Valley while Andre was stationed at Naval Air Station Lemoore, but as Andre approached retirement, the next phase of his life appeared unsettled.

"I wasn't sure where we wanted to be, but I knew we needed to get out of there," Andre said. "Besides, I didn't like some of the friends he was hanging out with."

In February of his sophomore year, they decided Rishard should move in with his 22-year-old sister, Avien, who was then stationed at Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico.

Matthews had not played tackle football since the sixth grade, but it didn't take long for his athleticism to shine through. During his junior season at Clovis (N.M.), he scored 20 touchdowns, among them a school-record 12 on receptions, and helped the Wildcats reach the state championship game. He was an all-state selection at receiver.

After starring for the Clovis basketball team last winter and performing well at spring and summer football camps, Matthews verbally committed to Texas El Paso in July.

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