When the Aberdeen Eagles varsity football team opened camp last week, a new face, but familiar face, was leading the charge.
Chris Matlack, a 33-year old special education educator steps up from the assistant coach ranks to lead an Eagles program that has struggled the past two seasons under former coach Johnny Brooks.
The Eagles were 3-2 a year ago before a program disruption led to suspended players. The Eagles lost their last five games to finish at 3-7, a year after going 5-5 in 2016.
The previous three years, Aberdeen went 7-4, 9-2 and 7-4, making the playoffs each year.
This year’s team is numbering around 30. “We are very small in numbers, so yes, that is evident, but you know what?... to me It doesn’t matter,” Matlack said Wednesday morning during practice. “We’re just going to be better conditioned, we’re gonna have to play hard, we’re gonna have to play both sides. Some guys are gonna have to be both sides of the ball, playing a little ironman football.”
Matlack served as an assistant to Brooks for seven years and was the head Junior Varsity coach when this year’s seniors were freshmen.
“We’re getting them ready for it, we have a good bunch of kids. They are a good group of players and we’re really excited about them,” Matlack said. “We have a big JV team, so that’s nice to have to kind of get the program going and set up for a future on varsity. It’s an exciting time.”
Matlack notes that he expects the Eagles to be very competitive and win some ball games. “We’re gonna go out, we’re gonna try to win every game. That’s just how it is, we want to win,” Matlack said. “They definitely have that mentality and they want it just as much as we do.”
Part of the ‘they’ are two seniors, Anthony Johnson, a linebacker, and Maurice Alviarez, a weak safety and running back. “We’ve got a bunch of seniors, so we got to lead this team,” Johnson said. “We’ve got to stand up and take control. Hopefully, we’re able to do that and lead these young guys so for the following year it can be better.”
Alviarez is a three-year varsity performer who may be called upon for double duties this season. “It’s definitely been a big change, he’s [Matlack] added a little bit more pride to the team than we had in the last couple of years,” Alviarez said. “I know for the last two years the team has been going a little bit down hill, the pride’s gone down, but I feel since coach Matlack’s been here, he’s added uh, it’s like a reborn program, so I think he’s definitely upped the mood on the team and he’s given us the opportunity to be more confident.”
The Eagles do have a number of seniors and a number of those are offensive linemen. “That is one place that we have returned players that have played the positions for several years and have been in the program that understand the offense and understand what we want to do.” Matlack said. “It’s nice to have that kind of foundation.”
Joining Matlack, who will run the offense, on the staff are Bryan Hansrote (defense), a former assistant and head coach at Edgewood; Duvowel Peaker (running back/linebacker coach); Kyle Dawes (O-Line coach) and Jeff Shivers (O-Line coach).
Matlack played quarterback at Rising Sun High School, graduating in 2003. He attended and played two years at Valley Forge Junior College and one year at the Citadel.
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