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Running Back Matthew Botello A Key to Mt. SAC’s Bid for a Three-peat

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Mt.SAC running back Matt Botello

Mt. SAC Running back Matt Botello

What a difference a week makes.

The defending state and national champion Mounties may have been down last week after having their 26-winning streak snapped 29-26 at Riverside, but you can’t keep a team loaded with talent down for long, especially one like Mt. SAC that has a big weapon in the backfield in running back Matthew Botello.

Saturday night against the visiting Bakersfield Renegades, Botello finished with 86 yards on 20 carries and helped lead the Mounties to a 41-27 win with touchdown runs of 12 and 2 yards.

“He’s the heart of our football team,” said Mt. SAC Coach Robert Jastrab about the five-foot-seven-inch back from Pioneer High School. “He’s our most consistent player.”

Jastrab added, “He’s the ideal role model. I just can’t say enough about Matt. He’s an example for all our players. He comes ready to work hard every day.”

Botello said that the level of competition at the Division 2 level and playing in the Southern California Football Association Conference for three years has helped mold him into a better player.

“It’s a lot different than high school,” he said.  “In high school I didn’t go through much competition. My senior year my only competition was my brother who was a freshman, so I had no competition until I got here.”

He added his brother Tony, one of two younger siblings and a senior running back at Pioneer High School in Whittier, has been influenced by watching him play, to the point of having developed a friendly family competition.

“He’s broken my team rushing record. I had 254 yards one game and he broke it with 286 last year as a junior. He also broke my season record. I had 1100 and he beat me with 1200 yards.”

This year’s version of the Mounties is a team replete with young players, still trying to learn the complexities of the Mt. SAC offense, but Botello said he relishes his new role as a team leader.

“I don’t mind the leadership role,” he said.  “I know how to lead a team. I know how to be a captain, and how to push them to be better.”

Bounce back quarterback Deen Cameron is still trying to achieve the rhythm needed to consistently perform with his young receivers, something Botello said will improve as the season progresses.

“He’s definitely the team leader,” said Cameron about Botello’s play, “He’s like another quarterback on the team. He runs hard every time.”

Botello said his experience is a big asset.

“It goes beyond learning the playbook,” he said. “A lot of new running backs that came in this year, I have been helping them out a lot. That’s one of the reasons I am also a starter.  I know the receivers. I know what my line is doing. Helping them out has helped them to learn the system.”

Botello is focused on the field and off.

“A lot of the guys who are leaders to me are the guys who got scholarships,” he said. “They are the guys who got the good grades in class. If they can get the good grades and get a scholarship, then I can too. I work just as hard as they do day in and out of practice, just the way they did when they were here.”

He is majoring in kinesiology but said he might become a nutritionist because he wants to work in hospitals helping adults and young obese kids lose weight.

His dream school is Oregon, but Botello said he will consider going to other schools out of state if he gets the opportunity.

“I want to see how many offers I get, and which are best for me and for my family, and that is what I am going to go with,” he said.

Botello said when he is not working out, playing football, or away from the practice field, he likes to spend time with his girlfriend and his family, watching movies on Netflix, bowling, or generally doing what young couples do.

On the field, it’s all about maintaining the level of play the Mounties have grown accustomed to, he said.

“We are Mt SAC and we are known for hard-nosed football, and that’s how we gotta play, fast and hard and strong every play.”


Written by sgvsports

October 3, 2011 at 11:44 pm

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