Plum’s Matolcsy hopes to build on solid sophomore season as 2-way player
Monday, August 19, 2019 | 6:17 PM
Max Matolcsy led the Plum football team last year in receiving yards and touchdowns, total tackles and interceptions.
He capped his sophomore season with Class 5A All-Foothills second-team honors at outside linebacker.
But the numbers Matolcsy, along with the rest of the Mustangs, was most concerned with were the ones in the win-loss column.
Plum finished 2018 with a 2-8 overall record. It’s a mark Matolcsy is determined to help improve this fall.
“A lot of the main players were sophomores, and even though we didn’t have the greatest record, we grew with experience at the varsity level,” he said. “For me, I got to see what it was like to play a full varsity game.”
Matolcsy got varsity playing time at wide receiver in four games as a freshman. He caught four passes for 45 yards. Last year, his roles on both sides of the ball increased, and he took full advantage. He caught 33 passes for 533 yards and four touchdowns and made 66 tackles, picked off three passes and recorded 21⁄2 sacks.
“Getting in there at linebacker in real situations taught me a lot about reading the quarterback, reading the run, pass coverage and all of that,” Matolcsy said. “Now, with a full offseason to build off that, I feel I am ready to go. It’s exciting to see what I can do and what the team can do.”
For Matolcsy, work in the weight room and conditioning around his basketball and track and field seasons prepared him for work in several seven-on-seven opportunities over the summer along with the weekly Plum team workouts.
“We’ve all worked so hard for this, not only this offseason but for the past several years. The excitement is at an all-time high,” he said. “In the summer, a number of us would come up before lifting and work out on the field or come up at 6 a.m. on a Saturday morning. It was all about taking advantage of an opportunity to get better.”
Matolcsy and his teammates tested their mettle Saturday at a scrimmage with North Hills. In addition to his work at receiver, Matolcsy (6-foot-1, 210 pounds) got a chance to line up at tight end as he continues to expand his offensive diversity.
“It was great for some of the newer starters and younger players to get a chance to go full speed against someone in another color jersey,” he said.
The Plum players and coaches are taking the scrimmage results and fueling the machine heading into Friday’s Week Zero opener at Highlands.
“Max is such a hard worker, and he is there to give his best, no matter what sport he’s training for,” Plum coach Matt Morgan said. “He is all in all the time. He’s the kind of kid you want in your program. He excels in the classroom and excels as a leader in whatever sport he does. He’s one of the captains, so that speaks volumes of the respect he gets from his peers.”
Morgan said that fire Matolcsy has to help Plum navigate the Foothills and return to the playoffs.
“You can sense it from this past week (of preseason camp practices), that there is a difference with the energy, the attitude and the focus from the returning experience, and Max exemplifies that in a big way.”
At linebacker, Max said he likes to fashion his game after the strength, quickness and endurance of Carolina Panthers star Luke Kuechly, a six-time Pro Bowl selection at linebacker.
“I love to watch how he plays the game,” Matolcsy said. “He’s a similar style of player.”
While Kuechly is an on-field influence, Matolcsy said he also pushes and strives to be the best with strength and support from his grandfather, Filbert Bucci.
“He’s always been by my side rooting me on at every single game since T-ball when I was 5 years old,” Matolcsy said. “I always want to impress him and play better for him. He’s always been my motivation.”
Matolcsy said he takes those influences and pays it forward to younger players in Plum’s athletic programs, including his younger brother Eli, a 10-year-old member of the Plum Stallions youth football team.
“There have been days where others were busy, so me and him would come up to the field and get some work in,” Matolcsy said. “He’s starting to play tackle football, and he’s showing that side of how into it he is and how much he loves the game. It’s cool that I have a little brother to talk to about the game. I can’t wait to see how good he can get.”
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .
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