By Carey Reeder
For The Tribune
When Pinson Valley introduced Patrick Nix as the new head coach this past offseason, it left former quarterback Jackie Matthews with a decision.
Compete for the starting job against Bo Nix, or move to the defensive side of the ball and play cornerback. Matthews choose to move positions, and it was a blessing in disguise for him.
As the quarterback, Matthews was solid, leading the Indians to an 8-4 record and state playoff berth last season before falling to Austin 44-38 in four overtimes in the second round.
“He’s a playmaker” former coach Matt Glover said of Matthews play last season following the first-round playoff game against Jackson-Olin.
“He makes plays with his arm and feet but also his mind. He has a high IQ for the game.”
Defensive coordinator Tony Hatmaker saw Matthews as the most important defensive player this season.
“When he made it known he was a team above self-guy, it spoke to our whole football team” Hatmaker said about the senior’s transition to defense.
He also spoke about Matthews value of being a former quarterback.
“The big thing we would talk about is certain schemes, different down and distances, and even different alignments he can use to mess with the quarterback’s eyes. He really got that part of it.”
Matthews work ethic was also a huge beneficial factor in his transition as well.
“He would watch film and pick up on things quick because of his quarterback background and he was very diligent in his work” Hatmaker added.
“It helps a lot,” Matthews said about his quarterback experience helping him on defense.
“It helps with the reads of plays and I know what is coming faster. Helps a lot.”
A high football IQ is hard to teach; toughness is even harder to teach a high school kid.
Not afraid to stick his nose into a passing lane or put his body out on the line for a quick play in the Indians secondary, Matthews made plays all season.
With multiple pass breakups and a few interceptions to his credit, Matthews became the Indians best “lockdown corner.”
The combination of toughness, high football IQ, selflessness, and quarterback’s mind, his move to defense this season was a success, and it was a pleasure to watch his progression throughout the season.