Jeannette senior Howard is glad he gave football a try

| Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Matt Howard, a senior offensive guard and defensive tackle for the Jayhawks, has been playing football for nearly 10 years and he can remember the day he decided to give the sport a try.

He was riding home on the school bus with his friend Garrett Elliot who is now a Jeannette graduate when Elliot talked him into playing football. Howard has been at it ever since.

“I like playing with my friends, I like football, like hitting people,” said Howard. “I just fell in love with it I guess. I like always being with my friends.”

He also plays basketball and baseball, but football is his favorite.

“I just like putting on the pads,” he said. “It's a contact sport, you get to hit people and it's more of a team game.”

Howard has been chosen as a captain of this year's team and he is grateful for the recognition.

“It was a real honor for me because of all of the great Jeannette players who have been captain in the past and now I'm put into the group with them,” he said.

Howard said the 2013 Jayhawks are a team that many people may doubt because they lost so many starters who were seniors last year.

“This year's team is going to be just as good as we were last year,” said Howard, who added that the younger athletes on this team have already stepped up to the challenge and he expects them to excel.

“This team is focused to win. We want to redeem ourselves after our losses to Aliquippa and Washington last year,” he said. But those losses taught the team a lot as well. “In the Washington loss we learned that special teams are a big part of the game and against Aliquippa we learned we need to come prepared, definitely.”

As he's experiencing each “last” of his senior year, Howard is taking time to enjoy these moments — even training camp. He made the best of it this year and said it was a lot of fun.

Coach Jeremey Binakonsky, or “Coach Benny” as he's known, is one of the coaches Howard works with most closely.

“He's a great coach and he's funny, doesn't yell that much. He's easy to work with and has a good way of teaching us,” said Howard.

Head Coach Roy Hall is like a second father to most of the team, said Howard.

“He's disciplined. He has a way to get our respect,” he said.

After graduation next spring, Howard is hoping to get a scholarship to play football at a Division II school. He's not set on a major yet, but he is considering careers in physical education or criminal justice.

“As a gym teacher, I'd like being around sports and being with kids,” he said. “And all of my friends in college right now who are in criminal justice are really enjoying it. So that sounds like an interesting major to get into.”

In school, Howard is active in Alpha Hi-Y and last year he performed in his first musical. He's pretty sure he'll go out for another role in the next spring musical because he had a lot of fun as a lead actor.

He hopes to get a part-time job in the near future to help him save up money for college, but otherwise he's pretty busy just with sports.

Howard is the son of Scott and Darlene Howard and he's the older brother of seventh-grader Seth Howard. His younger brother is also an athlete who he hopes will go out for football again after taking a break for a season.

“He's good enough to play,” said Howard.

This is Howard's second honor as a student athlete of the week for football.

“I'd like to thank Coach Hall and my parents for always being there for me and for helping me,” said Howard.

Kristie Linden is an editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at or 724-838-5154.

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