MURFREESBORO — Brendan Matthews arrived at Oakland during the summer and was immediately thrown into the biggest competition battle of the high school football preseason.
Entering five weeks into the season, Matthews has shown he is the unequivocal leader of the Patriots’ offense.
Matthews, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound quarterback, edged out Cody Miller for the starting role prior to the season opener against Hoover.
Despite a slow start against the perennial state-power Bucs to start the year, Matthews has settled in nicely for the second-ranked Patriots (2-1, 1-0 in Region 2-6A), who host fifth-ranked Blackman (3-1, 1-0) at 7 p.m. Friday at Ray Hughes Stadium.
He has completed 13-of-26 passes for 337 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. And with Miller’s recent decision to leave the Oakland program, Matthews’ role just got larger. He takes the largest percentage of snaps in practice.
Wanya Moton, who played the position some in the spring, also takes some snaps as he gets reacquainted with the position. Moton also is a receiver and defensive back for the Patriots.
“I feel pretty comfortable,” Matthews said. “We just have to go play and execute. If we do that, we should be OK.
“We’ve come down hard on (the passing game). We’ve worked hard on it.”
Matthews was a backup at Independence as a sophomore, completing 25-of-38 passes for 397 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. He came to Oakland when his father, Mike Matthews, accepted an assistant coaching position at Oakland. He had been an assistant at Independence prior to coming to Oakland.
Brendan Matthews played in the spread at Independence, but had to adjust to the Wing-T at Oakland. That change has progressed.
He’s not afraid to keep the ball and run with it. And he’s a hard-nosed blocker when teammates have the ball behind him.
“Brendan is a good hard-nosed kid,” Oakland coach Kevin Creasy said. “He reminds me a little bit of the Blackman quarterback (Miller Armstrong). If we had a couple more quarterbacks, Brendan could be over there (on defense) playing linebacker.
“He’s that kind of kid. With that said, Brendan has been a great addition. We’re really pleased with how he’s playing.”
Creasy hasn’t asked Brendan Matthews to throw the ball much this season. The most attempts he’s had in a game is 10, in a win over Hillsboro. But he was 5-of-8 passing for 193 yards in a win over Siegel in Week 3.
Brendan Matthews has meshed quickly with standout receiver JaCoby Stevens. Stevens has 10 catches for 248 yards this season.
In practice earlier this week, he hit Stevens with pass after pass, including one play that started with a low snap that forced the quarterback to pick the ball up off the ground.
“We started out in 7-on-7 in the summer real slow,” Matthews said. “We didn’t practice very well. We just said one day to run everything full speed.”
Reach Tom Kreager at 615-278-5168 and on Twitter @Kreager.
Week 5 Games
(All games start at 7 p.m.)
Blackman at Oakland*
Cookeville at Siegel
Riverdale at Coffee Co.
Warren Co. at Smyrna
Stewarts Creek at Columbia
Eagleville at Cascade
Shelbyville at La Vergne
Clay Co. at MTCS
York Institute at Cannon Co.**
*WGNS (1450-AM, 100.5-FM, 101.9-FM)
**WBRY (1540-AM, 96.7-FM)