Birmingham, Ala.--Perhaps the top match up in the AHSAA Super Six this week takes place Friday at 7 p.m. when Briarwood Christian takes on St. Pauls in a battle of Class 5A powerhouse programs at Legion Field.
While many of the names on both sides will be familiar to recruiting fans such as Barrett Trotter, Bo Walters, Mark Barron, Ivan Matchett, Louis Watson and Destin Hood, a player to watch will be Briarwood's Matthew Gordon.
Heading into Friday night's Class 5A title game, Gordon has put together one of the top seasons in Alabama prep history for a wide receiver. He says that he's looking forward to the challenge of facing a talented St. Pauls' team with the title on the line.
"This is what I have been working this whole season for and my whole career for," Gordon tells Inside The Auburn Tigers. "To actually get there and have the opportunity to win a state championship is exciting in itself. It just seems like the pressure is all gone. The pressure is to get there and now all we have to do is play the game we've been playing all year. We just have to play the kind of ball we've been playing and hopefully things will take care of themselves."
Catching 37 passes this season, Gordon has 1,106 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns through the air. He is averaging an astounding 29.9 yards per reception this season. To put his numbers in perspective, Foley's Julio Jones was just named Alabama's Gatorade Player of the Year after a senior season that saw him catch 68 passes for 1,179 yards and 16 touchdowns. Including kick returns Gordon has 1,782 all-purpose yards in 2007. He says at the moment the Briarwood offense is hitting on all cylinders and he hopes it lasts one more game.
"It's a ton of fun," Gordon says. "Every day we go out there and keep working the fundamental things we've been doing to keep sharp. There's really not too much pressure. We do mess up and have miscues now and then, but for the most part we go out there and play. There's not a whole bunch of teaching at this point so it's not boring. They just let us go out there and play because we're clicking so well."
Gordon is a threat in just about every way imaginable for Briarwood.
That's not all Gordon does for the undefeated Lions though as he also excels returning kicks as well as kicking field goals, extra points and kicking off. For his career, Gordon has been an explosive triple threat in all phases of the game. He currently is in the Briarwood record book with an incredible 31 records (nine being first place) in categories for offense, defense, kick returning and kicking. A big-play threat, Gordon has a 95-yard kickoff return for a score, a 98-yard interception return for a score, an 88-yard reception for a touchdown, and a 46-yard field goal, all in the same season.
Gordon has scored an amazing 48 percent (24 out of 50) of the time he has touched the ball by receiving and interceptions. With one game to go in 2007, the receiver is within 88 yards receiving of being the 13th best ever in receiving yards in a season for the state of Alabama. He is within two touchdown catches of fifth place for the most receiving touchdowns scored in the state in a season with 20.
He's not just a weapon on offense though as he excels at the safety position for Briarwood. Two weeks ago his caused fumble against J.O. Johnson sealed a win for Briarwood on the road. In his career on defense Gordon has 142 tackles, 33 pass breakups, nine interceptions with four returned for touchdowns, four blocked punts and eight caused fumbles. Throw in a career kickoff return average of 29.2 yards and 55 career touchbacks while kicking off and 86-90 extra points and you have the ultimate weapon in high school football.
All that has teams from far and wide looking at Gordon although he hasn't gotten much interest from his favorite school Auburn. He notes that at the moment he's focused on winning a title, but he can't help to think about what his future holds.
"Furman offered me last week," Gordon says in addition to offers from Samford and Air Force. "They want me to play either safety or receiver. Mississippi State is looking at me. I'm not sure how many scholarships they have left. They told me they like me and think I'm a Division I player.
"Arkansas State was at the game Friday and they called me after the game," he adds. "They talked to me. The Citadel is talking to me. I'm not really sure how that's going to work out. Marshall is still talking to me. They actually like me as a kicker. Vanderbilt came to the game last week and they are talking to me. Those are the schools that come to mind."