Strong Scores

Pacific's Matt Strong accelerates past Sullivan's Wyatt Schmidt on the way to a 68-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage Friday in Pacific.  Missourian Photo/Bill Battle.

Bill Battle

Pacific High School Coach Clint Anderson says recognizing one accomplishment of a PHS star varsity player covers only a miniscule part of what the offensive-defensive athlete brought to the football program and the school.

Speaking at the Nov. 15 Meramec Valley R-III School Board meeting, Anderson said he was pleased to recognize senior Matt Strong as the Four Rivers Conference defensive player of the year.

But he said he could not do it comfortably without sharing a larger picture of the modest young man as an athlete, a student and a person.

“His numbers include 1,143 yards rushing on 93 attempts for a 12.4 yard per carry average, 720 yards receiving on 39 receptions, 18.4 yards per reception, 26 touchdowns — a new school record — most TDs in a game at 6, most points in a game, 36, most points in a career, 260, and most TDs in a career, 43,” Anderson said.

Defensively, Strong racked up 88 solo tackles, 26 assists for a total of 114.5 tackles for loss from the safety position and four interceptions.

The star athlete also received his share of awards, including 2016 First Team All Conference Receiver, 2017 First Team All Conference Receiver, All Conference Defensive Back, All Conference Returner.

“And he only had 12 returns, half of which were in the first three games of the season,” Anderson said. “And he was the 2017 Defensive Player of the Year.”

Strong also is a three-sport athlete with a 3.7 GPA.

“Now, the immeasurables,” Anderson said. “His character is second to none. He has integrity, determination, heart, dependability, work ethic, empathy, compassion, toughness, grit are all head of the class.

“He is always the first to give others credit for his success,” the coach said. “He’ll be the first to tell you that his tackles, long runs and touchdowns were because of the guys doing their job in front of him. His expectation for himself inspires others to be better players and better people.”

The coach said the best indication he could offer to attest to Strong’s character was despite all the accolades, awards, attention, local and even national media coverage — he had a play that was shown on the NFL Network — not one of his teammates was jealous.

“There was no envy, or jealousy.” Anderson said. “They were all genuinely happy for him, they congratulated him and celebrated with him, and even then he deflected the attention and gave credit to others.

“He is and will always be a great ambassador of the traits and character that we want represented at Meramec Valley R-III,” Anderson said.