The North Lamar Panthers football team has endured a great deal of adversity since the beginning of the season. The Panthers are still looking for their first win of the year while battling injuries and COVID-19 along the way.
Since he stepped onto campus last year, Matthew Sandlin has made a positive impact on North Lamar‘s football program. The standout sophomore has performed well for his team both as a running back and a defensive back. Impressively, the two-way star has been successful despite a late start on the gridiron.
“I started playing football in seventh grade because I didn’t have the chance to play PeeWee Football,” Matthew said. “I wish I would have had that chance, but started doing pretty good during my time playing middle school. After that, I started playing football in high school and made the varsity team in my freshman year. I liked it a lot and kept playing to where I’m at today.”
From the beginning of his football career, Matthew has improved tremendously year to year. However, the sophomore knows he’s had plenty of help and guidance the entire way.
“With sports, I’ve had some good coaches help me out a lot,” Matthew said. “Coach (Bric) Steed has been especially helpful to me. On defense, he coaches me and the rest of the cornerbacks. He’s a great coach — one of my favorites. He and several other coaches have helped me out so much.”
From developing instincts on the defensive side of the ball to running fast and hitting the holes hard as a running back, Matthew’s game has sharpened by listening to his coaches and putting in the hard work required for greatness every single day. Along with those aspects, being an avid baseball player has translated to more success in Matthew’s football skill sets.
“Playing baseball has helped me with my football game,” Matthew said. “Playing baseball has kept my athleticism and fitness in check. There’s also a lot of patience involved in baseball, and it helps me continue to work hard no matter what may come up in football.”
His development as a football player was on full display when he rushed for more than 100 yards and 2 touchdowns as a freshman playing at the perennial powerhouse Argyle Eagles.
“My best game so far was definitely the Argyle game last year,” Matthew said. “They’re definitely the toughest team we had to play. I just gave it my all and I got somewhere on the field. There were a lot of coaches and parents who were proud of me after the game.”
As a softer-spoken sophomore, Matthew admitted that he isn’t the type to inspire people around him vocally. Instead, he tries to lead silently and let both his play on the field and work ethic during practices do the talking for him.
“I just work hard and hope everyone else does the same,” Matthew said. “I try to be the best I can at what I do.”
Whether it is during a time of stress or leisure, Matthew enjoys being outside. The activities he partakes in do not only serve as personal hobbies but also as productive methods to decompress.
“I have a great passion for being in the outdoors,” Matthew said. “I really like playing golf, hunting, and fishing — I just really enjoy being outside and to be competitive in those things. I also like being in the outdoors during stressful times. Fishing is something that is both fun and relaxing for me.”
Even though he enjoys his time out on the greens and fairways, Matthew remembers that not every moment has been a proud one.
“One time I was out on the golf course with some of my friends, and I was doing absolutely terrible,” Matthew said, with laughter. “It was really embarrassing. I was definitely slicing the ball and you wouldn’t know where it was going. It was pretty bad.”
The Panthers will take the field on their homecoming night at 7:30 p.m. next Friday at home against district foe Liberty-Eylau. For more sports coverage, click here.