Name: Zach Mattas
The rundown: Mattas is a 6-foot-2-inch, 215-pound defensive end/linebacker at Cienega High School.
Who he is: Mattas anchored Cienega’s defensive line as a junior and is expected to play an even larger role this season with many of the Bobcats’ starting front seven — including Dante Boudy, Nathan Amico, Steven Harshman and Carter Clarke — gone.
Mattas will play with his hand off the turf as a linebacker while mixing in as a defensive end in Cienega’s 3-3-5 scheme.
“Will that hurt us a little bit? Yeah, it’s tough to move your best defensive player back, but I think that allows Zach to make more plays throughout the field. He was limited to what he could do on the d-line, so now I think he’ll make more plays for us,” Cienega coach Pat Nugent said.
Mattas said he’s happy with the move back to linebacker.
“I’m faster than a lot of the linemen and I just have more power going at a faster speed,” he said.
Mattas added boxing to his training regimen to enhance hand speed and technique when rushing the quarterback. Mattas said training as a boxer has added to his cardiovascular health and helped him develop shoulder strength without lifting weights.
Nugent said his star defensive player could have a similar role to All-Pro linebacker Von Miller of the Denver Broncos. Like Miller, Matas will alternate between defensive end and outside linebacker.
Proof he’s good: Mattas is arguably Cienega’s best athlete. He runs the 40-yard dash in 4.8 seconds, bench presses 375 pounds, split-jerks 310 pounds and squats 500 pounds.
Mattas’ frame alone makes him a college-ready prospect, but his performance on the field makes him a standout player. Mattas led Cienega’s team with 13 tackles-for-loss last season and finished second in solo tackles (47) and sacks (2). Expect his numbers to improve as a senior.
He said it: “He’s so strong, physical and just a nasty kid. He had an unbelievable (junior) year on the defensive line whether he played defensive end or nose guard. He may put his hand down and get to the quarterback a little bit and I still see him leading our team in sacks. He’s a linebacker, but he’ll be coming off the edge for us.” — Nugent