Star Barnegat Athlete Matt Schofield Ready for Next Challenge
Matt Schofield may be leaving Barnegat High School in a few short weeks, but his athletic legacy will likely stay with the school for years to come. In his three years as a starting middle linebacker for the Bengals, he surpassed his own record each year for all time leading tackling, and was one of two recipients of the Most Valuable Player award at the football banquet in the winter.
Though his football achievements are undeniable, his wrestling record may be what truly sets him apart. At last week’s wrestling banquet, Schofield was presented with yet another MVP trophy, this time for his accomplishments on the mat.
“I felt good,” he said. “I thought I deserved it.” Indeed, Schofield was the first wrestler in Barnegat High School history to make it to the state level competition, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association tournament, held in Atlantic City. His journey to the state competition included many other accomplishments along the way, including Matawan Ice Breaker Champion, Buc Classic Champion, third place at the Hawk Classic, second place in District 24, and third place in Region 6.
Like his wrestling achievements, Schofield’s football achievements make up a long list, including Class B South Co-Defensive Player of the Year, Fabulous 40 squad, first team All B-South, first team All Ocean County, second team Off Shore and third team All State, Group 2. These achievements are what he will draw upon for his future athletic endeavors.
In March, Schofield committed to William Paterson University in Wayne to play football, after being recruited based on his achievements in high school. Though he said he would have enjoyed a wrestling career alongside football in college, his commitment is to a school that does not offer a wrestling program at this time.
“I ended my career in Atlantic City,” said Schofield. “My goal was to make it to Atlantic City. I didn’t have any expectations of winning, just to make it there.”
Schofield said he is “very excited” to leave for college on Aug. 12, and feels confident in his choice of a university and athletic program. “I liked the coaches; I liked the campus,” he said. “It’s a good fit for me.”
When it comes to goals for the next few years, Schofield said, “I want to repeat what I did in high school football in college and be a part of the turnaround of William Paterson’s football program.” The program, which had a record of 4 and 6 at the end of last year’s season, is Division 3 in the New Jersey Athletic Conference. Repeating what he did in high school means starting as a middle linebacker from sophomore year through senior year, and he said he hopes to work on special teams during his freshman year to “make sure they know who I am.”
Schofield said he plans to major in physical education or special education at William Paterson and ultimately wants to coach high school football and wrestling, in large part because his own coaches inspired him. “I want to give back what people gave to me,” he said.
Schofield, who has played in just about every major sport at some point in his life, including a stint with the New Jersey Stickball Association, got serious about football and wrestling in middle school, getting involved in the programs in sixth and seventh grades, respectively. He credits his successes to little but hard work and dedication.
“I just worked hard at both of them and trained all year ’round, lifting and running,” he said. “I just do the best I can do. And I really don’t like losing. If I lose, I do everything I can to make myself better so it doesn’t happen again.” Throughout his high school athletic career, he said, he’s been described as “hard-nosed, passionate, and loyal,” all words he also uses to describe himself as an athlete.
While training during high school meant an average of three hours a day, Schofield, who is currently involved in track and field at Barnegat, said he expects college conditioning to be a “huge step up,” but one to which he is truly looking forward. “I’m ready to move on to the next chapter of my life,” he said.