The end result? Both ran through the tournament gauntlet like a pack of tigers stampeding through their jungle - before falling short of the BOW title.
Matute helped lead an underrated group of Inland Empire stars to a second place finish in the renown tournament on April 26, firing the football with accuracy, precision and dissecting different coverages.
Now, the 6-foot-4 Matute of Rancho Cucamonga High School has upgraded himself into a big time sleeper prospect in a region that’s been a prominent hot bed for college football coaches. The Inland Empire - or I.E. - has had USC, UCLA, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Norte Dame and other prominent NCAA Division I football programs visit the region to pluck out football players.
And Matute said he and his Rhare Breed teammates don’t get much fanfare from their highly recruited peers.
“We’re slept on,” Matute said. “We’ve got a whole bunch of guys who can ball. We’ve played against some of the top guys and we’ve beaten them.”
Matute used his eyes and right arm to feed the football to his cat quick wide receivers at the championship tournament. He helped turn the likes of Khris Vaughn, Brian Casteel and Xavier Caldwell into game breakers who could beat defenses on out routes, slants or fades in the end zone.
In the title game against Team Big Blue, Matute finished with 15 completions out of 21 attempts, three touchdown passes and one interception, as Rhare Breed Blue fell 21-20 in double overtime.
Matute, though, saw his abilities improve while trying to carve a name for himself along with the rest of his teammates.
“Definitely. Just seeing every defense and having the team come together more then progress each game, it’s huge for us,” Matute said.
He said he still believes there’s room for improvement.
“Just getting bigger and adding muscle. Also improving my reads,” Matute said. “It’s because the college game gets much faster. So I want to get into a routine of making my reads quicker.”
Matute holds one scholarship offer from Arkansas State of the Sun Belt Conference. The Red Wolves extended their pledge to Matute on April 21. He adds that he’s had conversations with coaches at North Carolina State, Purdue, Texas Tech, Northern Arizona, Sacramento State and Arizona State.
In shoulder pads, he leads Rancho Cucamonga’s deep ball aerial assault as he attacks secondaries with the Hail Mary. He led the Cougars with 2,855 yards, an average of 237.9 passing yards per game, 24 touchdowns and 8 interceptions.
But its not just his howitzer on his right arm that‘s gotten college coaches glued. He adds “I’m also a good leader by just getting everybody to focus in.”
CALI GOLD MINE'S TAKE:
What to like: Powerful right arm and won't hesitate to use it. Immediately locates the one-on-one coverage then attacks right away. He takes command of the huddle and has the personality to win over his teammates. Has solid field vision and most of the time, makes accurate decisions. Shows a sense of comfort in the pocket and doesn't get rattled by pass rushers.
What to build on: Footwork can get some polishing. He's not the fastest runner either on keeper plays. While he has quick receivers and can instantly spot them right away, I'll need to see more of his ability to scan the field and not zero in on one guy. I'll also need to see how he plays the cerebral game against defenses and if he can adjust to coverages at the line of scrimmage.
Overall: Matute is emerging as a fast riser in the Inland Empire's 2016 class. With his size and arm strength, I'm convinced he'll add more offers between now and the end of his senior season.