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High School Player of the Week : Shackelford Likes His New Option

November 17, 1987|CHRIS FOSTER

Ask Matt Shackelford how many yards he gained rushing this season for La Habra High School and he'll shrug his shoulders. He can't even remember how many 100-yard games he's had.

"I think I went over 100 against Fullerton, but I'm not sure," he said.

It's the same when when you inquire about passing yardage or any other statistical category. To Shackelford, the numbers just don't matter.

"When you start thinking about stats, you tend to get a little big-headed," said Shackelford, The Times' Player of the Week. "If you throw for 400 yards in one game and try to do it again, you'll end up throwing interceptions. It's just not worth caring about."

Yet, the individual statistics are what made Shackelford's performance against Sunny Hills Friday night so impressive.

Shackelford, a senior quarterback, rushed for 236 yards in a 30-24 victory over the previously unbeaten Lancers. He scored three touchdowns against a defense that had allowed 18 points in nine previous games.

"The only numbers that were important was that Sunny Hills was undefeated," Shackelford said. "We wanted them to be 9-0 when we played."

Said La Habra Coach Bob Rau: "We teach the kids that the W's and L's are the only statistics that count. It's one of the reasons they don't complain when we ask them to do something different, like playing another position."

Or becoming a runner.

In two previous varsity seasons, Shackelford was an impressive passer. He threw for more than 300 yards in a game three times, including a 384-yard performance against Lakewood in 1985.

So, it was somewhat surprising that Rau decided to change to an option offense for the 1987 season.

"It was exciting, something different," Shackelford said. "I liked the change."

Actually, Rau's idea was to improve the passing game with the threat of the option. He intended to have it set up the pass, but gradually the run became the focal point.

After the first three games, Shackelford found that he preferred the option to the passing formations La Habra had previously used.

"I was concerned when we worked on the option so much that we got away from the pass," Shackelford said. "It (the option) just worked so much better. And it really doesn't matter how you gain the yards, rushing or passing, as long as you can score."

There is a big difference between gaining yards rushing and passing, according to Shackelford.

"If you throw for 300 yards, you don't really notice it until someone tells you after the game," he said. "But rushing for 200 yards, you feel it more. I was so tired against Sunny Hills in the fourth quarter, that when I was sent in on defense I just got ran over. Your legs let you know about every yard you gain."

Which, for Shackelford, was the only time he thought about his statistics.

Matt Shackelford

La Habra High School

Position: Quarterback / running back.

Height, Weight, Class: 6-0, 185, Sr.

Last Week: Shackelford rushed for 236 yards in 20 carries and scored 3 touchdowns, as the Highlanders defeat ed previously unbeaten Sunny Hills, 30-24.

Season: Shackelford has rushed for 509 yards in 60 carries. He has also completed 17 of 62 passes for 281 yards and 2 touchdowns.

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