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Daily News Q&A: Elizabeth Forward's Matt Bernadowski

Jim Ference | Valley Independent
Elizabeth Forward's Matt Bernadowski intercepts pass and gets stoped by Belle Vernon's Jake Sweitzer at Jim Weir Stadium in 2012.

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Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013, 1:36 a.m.

For a guy who hadn't planned on returning to football, Elizabeth Forward senior wide receiver Matt Bernadowski is becoming a major presence on the gridiron.

Three years after he decided to give the sport another chance, which he hadn't played since middle school, Bernadowski emerged from a season-opening 46-0 victory over Trinity with a career-best, four-touchdown performance.

And, he scored in a variety of ways.

Bernadowski hooked up with quarterback JaQuan Davidson on a 25-yard touchdown pass, scored on runs of 6 and 11 yards and capped it with a 95-yard punt return.

“Incredible,” Elizabeth Forward coach Mike LeDonne said. “He's a state-caliber hurdler (he finished third in the 110 hurdles and fifth in the 300 hurdles in the 2013 PIAA finals), and he's starting to learn how to play the game of football well. You can't teach speed, and he's got a lot of it.”

With Elizabeth Forward holding a 40-0, third-quarter lead, the 6-foot-2, 180-pound Bernadowski took a Trinity punt at the EF 5 and returned it for his fourth score of the night.

“That was a testament to his athletic ability and speed,” LeDonne said. “I saw him catch the ball, and I'm thinking, ‘OK, he's just going to go with it.' But, no, he starts running upfield, and I'm like saying, ‘No, no, no,' and then, ‘Go, go, go.' ''

LeDonne said he's getting inquiries from BCS schools — Temple and Western Michigan, among them; even Pitt and West Virginia — about Bernadowski, and he can see why.

“He's becoming a complete player for us,” LeDonne said. “He's becoming much more mature out there. Watch out if the light finally goes on.”

Q: Were you surprised that you were able to score in so many different ways?

A: I knew I had it in me, but I didn't feel last year like I had a chance. This year, I have the ball in my hands more. This year is the year the coaches want me involved in the offense.

Q: How do you think you are progressing in football for only having returned to the sport as a sophomore?

A: I feel like I'm learning something new every day. My coaches are encouraging me. I'm told I have raw talent. I can be better than I am. Hopefully, if I keep working at it, I can get to college and do well in football.

Q: What is your favorite college team?

A: Quanny (JaQuan Davidson) has all these offers, and he took me to Pitt for one of their games before. I don't know how to explain it. The coaches were all welcoming to me. I don't have an offer there, but they were all caring. That is my favorite college.”

Q: What type of music do you listen to?

A: I listen to everything. My mom listens to country, so I listen to that. I listen to hip-hop, pop, I listen to everything.

Q: Being a successful hurdler in track, do you apply anything from that to football?

A: Just running 110s, you run that short distance, it's just like football. It's what you do when people aren't looking that matters most. The more you work, the better you get. I can always work to get better.

Q: What's your favorite class?

A: I'd say math. I just like working with numbers and figuring out things. Once you learn one thing, it just adds on. I don't feel like you have to learn something new every single day.

Q: Who has been the biggest influence in your life?

A: My hurdles coach, Greg Paterra. He's always there for me. He played in the NFL. He really helps me through football and talks to me about life. Through day-to-day problems, he'll help me through it. Everyone has an impact on my career in football.

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