ELMWOOD PARK — Elmwood Park coach John Freeman wishes he could have a few more players on the field like Yamill Matos.
In a season when the Tigers (1-5, 0-2) have struggled, Matos has been the only consistent playmaker for Elmwood Park.
“With our team being so young at quarterback and not having a whole lot of four-year players, Matos is dynamic and has an uncanny ability to make that first guy miss, then get to full speed and pull away,” Freeman said. “We try to get him the ball as much as we can because he’s our most dynamic player and right now we don’t have a second option that can take pressure off of him.”
Friday night’s 14-13 Metro Suburban East loss at home to Guerin was the perfect example.
Matos couldn’t have had much better of a first half, carrying the ball 10 times for 195 yards, including a 67-yard touchdown run on Elmwood Park’s first play. He also had an interception to stop the Gators’ second drive in Tigers’ territory.
“The first half I felt really good running the ball,” Matos said. “Obviously I couldn’t have done that without my blockers. It felt great but we couldn’t pull out the win so it’s hard to [look at the positives].”
Matos had just three carries for three yards in the second half as the Tigers looked to throw the ball.
“We’re just so one-dimensional right now,” Freeman said. “We just don’t do enough things right when we throw the football. Teams are able to pile up on our run because we’re so one-dimensional.”
Matos is surprised that the other options have yet to produce because he felt his teammates put a lot of effort in during the offseason.
“It’s been hard for everyone,” Matos said. “We worked so hard in the summer, pushing ourselves to the edge, but we’re not executing as much as we want to. It’s been much harder than we thought. We just need to keep working hard as a team.”
Matos began playing football his freshman year and Freeman was one of the main reasons he tried out for the team. He’s steadily gotten better and is experiencing a breakout season this year.
“I’ve felt a lot faster and more explosive this year,” Matos said. “I did a lot of lifting in the offseason, doing a lot of reps everyday.”
His teammates see how the hard work paid off, but it also comes down to things a coach can’t teach, like determination.
“The main thing about Yamill is he runs his heart out every time he gets the ball,” senior Shannon Scott said. “He wants to move the ball, he wants to score and he wants to win. He has that drive. Every play he wants to do his best.”
At 5-7 and 150 pounds, Matos relies on speed and instincts, but that doesn’t mean he shies away from contact.
“When I get the ball all I see is touchdown,” Matos said. “I love to run over guys because they underestimate me. They see a little guy but I have big power.”