In his four years of competing in athletics at Mexico High School, Matthew Huffman created a reputation that continually crossed over from one season to the next and allowed him to build a resume that currently speaks for itself.
Now, just as the varsity basketball team has concluded its playoff run, Huffman's future couldn't be brighter because on Thursday he signed his National Letter of Intent in the Bulldogs athletic complex to play football for Westminster College starting this fall.
"It made me feel good when (Mexico football) coach (Steve) Haag showed confidence in my ability at wide receiver. It made me believe in myself and let me know I had the talent to perform at the level that I wanted to," said Huffman. "I wasn't always the biggest guy, but when (Mexico basketball coach Darren Pappas) put me in to play the post, I liked being in there banging with the big guys. It helped me to keep going, even when they tried to push me around a little bit."
This season the Mexico football team went 8-4 overall, 4-2 North Central Missouri Conference. Highlights included defeating Southern Boone 33-31 in the second round of the playoffs on Oct. 27, on Oct. 20 the squad beat Living Word Christian 52-28 and on Oct. 6 the Bulldogs downed Fulton 28-6.
"This is a great honor for Matthew. It's an opportunity to go play college football. I think for any young man it's an exciting time in their life," said Haag. "I know Matthew is excited to go down and have that opportunity. He's always been a good receiver, but it's determined on our offense. We're a running style offense. If we had to throw the ball we knew he was really consistent at catching it. I know later on, especially in the district finals, we counted on him."
As a receiver in 2017-18, Huffman had six receptions for 161 yards and two touchdowns in 12 games. He also returned two kickoffs for 13 yards and one punt for 13 yards. As for his defensive accomplishments, not only did Huffman chart 13 tackles, but he also had an interception.
"Matthew is one of our hardest workers. If I was going to rank players as far as hard work, Matthew is right up there at the top," said Mexico defensive coordinator Ken Grubb."You can always count on him to be in the right spot and do the right thing. Those are the things as a defender that made him so valuable to us. Beyond the athletic ability. the other part of replacing Matthew is he brought a spark to practice everyday and that's harder to replace than the athletic ability."
The other role Huffman just recently retired with the Bulldogs was that of forward with the varsity basketball team, which finished fourth in the North Central Missouri Conference this season. Over the course of 26 games this year, the soon-to-be Blue Jay averaged 3.5 points, 4.3 rebounds and just under one assist per game.
"Matthew is a great kid who works hard and is going to do everything you ask him to do. He's an overall quality indidvidual and Westminster is fortunate to be getting sich a quality athlete and even better person," said Pappas. "Matthew goes above and beyond in the classroom. He's very focused on his academics. I think that translates to the playing field, be it football or basketball. He's going to do whatever it takes to not only better himself, but help the team succeed, as well."
This season Westmister went 6-4 overall, 6-3 Saint Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Area players include Van-Far's Lucas Robinson and Community R-6's Anthony Fairchild.