By Rick White: CNJ managing editor
Saddleback High coach Jeoff Meek said he felt like he won the lottery when former Clovis Wildcat Rishard Matthews enrolled at the Santa Ana, Calif., school earlier this month.
Matthews, who left the Wildcats in the second week of the season to live with his father, made his California high school debut a memorable one Friday with huge plays on both sides of the ball.
He had three catches for 88 yards and two touchdowns playing wide receiver, and added three interceptions playing free safety in Saddleback’s 35-16 loss to El Modena.
“We don’t have many athletes like Rishard at our school,” Meek said. “He’s a very good player and a really nice kid.”
Meek said Matthews practiced with the Roadrunners for two weeks while waiting to learn his eligibility status. The California Interscholastic Federation cleared Matthews to play at 3 p.m. Friday.
The state’s governing high school athletic body had earlier denied Matthews’ eligibility.
Saddleback, a predominantly Hispanic school with an enrollment of about 3,000, is in the middle of the state’s 13 classifications, according to Meek.
As a junior last year at Clovis, Matthews caught 43 passes for 839 yards and scored 20 touchdowns, including a school-record 12 TD receptions.
Matthews lived with his sister, who was stationed at Cannon Air Force Base, while in Clovis. He told the Clovis coaching staff he was moving to California to live with his father.
“I did not get in trouble or anything, I just need to get my grades straight with school and stuff,” Matthews told rivals.com.
Matthews could not be reached for comment.