In the third game of his junior season, Jedu Matautia-Reyes felt a pop in his right shoulder. He kept playing.
Four other times during the season, Matautia-Reyes said, his shoulder “popped out.” He kept playing.
But he admits his season suffered. He had a solid year at wide receiver (17 catches, 154 yards, 2 TDs), but he said he struggled to make tackles at times from his cornerback spot on defense. He still finished second on the team with 42 solo tackles and was a key contributor to Nipomo’s Northern League title.
“I never really knew it was something serious,” Matautia-Reyes, who wears No.1 and goes by “TheWo1f” on Twitter, said last week at practice. “I didn’t want to stop. I never told anyone until after the season. I told my parents finally, and they took me to the doctor.”
What the doctor found was a torn labrum, the tissue in the shoulder socket that helps keep the ball of the joint in place, Matautia-Reyes said. After surgery in March and rehab all summer, he was finally cleared to play three weeks ago.
Now healthy, the speedy Matautia-Reyes is one of just five seniors who will play big roles as the Titans look to repeat as league champions.
Matautia-Reyes will team up with free safety Gage Wynn, who led the Northern League with five interceptions last season. The two know each other well, having shared the field for the past 10 years.
Nipomo head coach Tony Dodge expects big seasons from both players — along with senior defensive ends Simon Rodriguez and Roberto Buenrostro — and believes the defensive unit will be a strength. But with a slew of sophomores on the roster, many on offense, both players are expected to be on the field a lot. Wynn is taking on a bigger offensive role as a wide receiver.
“This year, I want to focus on both while still focusing on defense because defense is my favorite,” Wynn said.
Matautia-Reyes is focusing on helping his team by having a better season at cornerback.
“I am hoping to get more college attention. I have interest letters but no offers yet,” Matautia-Reyes said. “I just have to play the best game every time. I can’t mess up.”