Heights’ Reed ready for final game in Shrine Bowl
Matt Reed’s summer has been jam-packed with wrestling.
Earlier this month, his day began at 8 a.m. with a wrestling practice at Oklahoma, then a class on the History of Jazz, weights after class and then academic meetings until 4 p.m. In mid-July, he was at wrestling nationals in North Dakota.
For the past week, though, he’s been preparing for his final football game, tonight’s Kansas Shrine Bowl.
Reed, an Eagle Top 11 selection from Heights, never expected this would be his last football game.
“No, not at all,” he said. “Football has always been a part of my life. I thought I’d do it in college. But wrestling is the way for me, and I’ll make the most of it.”
Reed made a name for himself as a sophomore quarterback when he helped lead Heights to the 2010 Class 6A title game. As a junior he led Heights to an undefeated record and its first 6A title. Last season he again led Heights to the 6A title game, where the Falcons suffered their first loss after a 25-game winning streak.
Reed’s success was in large part due to his intelligence in running the Falcons’ offense, while also relying on his quickness and ability to run through and around would-be tacklers.
He had a chance to play college football, but only one offer (Army) was at the Bowl Subdivision level that he was fixated on.
“I wasn’t surprised,” Heights coach Rick Wheeler said of Reed choosing to wrestle at Oklahoma. “It was a long process. I think that was his intent, he wanted to play football in college. But he wanted to play at the highest level. When the opportunities were greater in wrestling, more opportunities to wrestle at the higher level, I think that certainly had an impact on him.”
Reed won 6A wrestling titles in 2011 and 2012, and was undefeated both seasons.
There was also the issue of fit and education; Reed plans to be a mechanical engineer.
“I just don’t know if I’m a military man,” Reed said with a laugh. “… When I first got to play football, I thought I’d take it as far as possible as I could with it. I wanted to play in college. It didn’t turn out that way.
“It’s the fact that basically it came down to me getting an education. You can’t pass up an opportunity like Oklahoma.”
Giving up football wasn’t easy.
“I love the whole team-building process,” he said. “It’s great being around a bunch of guys who work so hard to accomplish their goals, like winning. It’s just awesome.”
Reed’s especially grateful to have a final opportunity to play football.
“It’s a real great honor to be able to play in the game and the fact that it will be my last football game,” Reed said. “I kind of don’t want it to come because I know it’s my last one. But I’m looking forward to it.
“To me, this is just about having fun, and I usually perform my best when I’m having fun.”