High School Sports

Patterson not worried about snubs

CLOVER -- Matt Patterson wasn't too depressed when his name didn't pop up on the rosters for the Shrine Bowl or the North-South All-Star Game, showcases for the state's best seniors.

His whole season's been such a surprise that he didn't mind not being labeled as one of the best, although he clearly is.

"Our school's never been known for kicking field goals," said Patterson, Clover's field goal artist despite his first true year of varsity ball. "I think that was part of it, but it's fine. I know there are a lot of guys to look through."

Patterson's drilled 9-of-16 field goals this year, hit 8-of-11 PATs (teammate Brandon Humphries is the regular PAT kicker), popped 12 touchbacks and of his misses, one was blocked, one hit the crossbar and three were from at least 50 yards. The performance was good enough to earn him the Upper State Class AAAA Division II Specialist of the Year award, yet he was snubbed by the selection committees for the all-star games.

To be fair, the all-star rosters were chosen before Patterson received his latest prize, and there's always the chance a spot could open up in the coming weeks.

But it was still a little curious.

"It's a tough deal," Blue Eagles coach Jet Turner said. "I think it may be because this is his first year and he just kind of burst onto the scene."

Patterson didn't mind. He was the JV/backup kicker last year and only booted one varsity extra point in a 35-0 win, so anything he gets this year is gravy.

"I had a little bit of knowledge, but the coaches had confidence in me," Patterson said. "I became a starter in mid-August."

Plus, the snub isn't mattering at all right now. The Blue Eagles are alive and well in the playoffs, playing at Greenwood on Friday. The opponent's long been reputed as a special-teams beast, which could make it an interesting night.

"I just have to get my mind right," Patterson said. "Be very fluid and get everything going. I think we've got a real good chance."

Patterson also plays soccer, but his sudden success on the gridiron has got him interested in kicking at the next level. Turner confirmed that some Division I-AA schools have begun correspondence and Patterson said a highlight video has been spliced together and sent to The Citadel, Western Carolina and Navy.

At 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, Patterson's got the size to play college ball. He might not be an LSU or Southern Cal recruit just yet, but his leg's rapidly improving and could be responsible for booting the Eagles into the state championship.

"We've kicked more field goals this year than in any of my 10 previous years," Turner said. "We know if we can get him on the 35, he's got a legitimate shot to make it."

Patterson said he's not thinking too far about the future, only about Friday's game. It's easy to believe him -- he claimed he had no idea he was named specialist of the year until a coach clued him in.

"I actually didn't read the paper that morning and an assistant coach told me at school," Patterson said. "I went out and got a paper and saw it after that."