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Cathedral football: Rymer hits his way to All-State

NATCHEZ — With a nose for the ball, Cathedral High School junior linebacker Matthew Rymer made a habit of sniffing out plays this season.

Rymer’s 134 tackles earned him All-State honors in MHSAA Class 1A, and Rymer said he was thrilled when head coach Ron Rushing called him over the weekend to break the news.

“I didn’t know I was up for it,” Rymer said. “It’s a great honor. I’m pretty happy. It feels great — it really does.”

Rushing said Rymer’s instincts make him a prototypical linebacker, and he wasn’t surprised when Rymer was recognized at the state level.

“He’s tough, physical and loves contact,” Rushing said. “There are some things you can’t teach, and he just has that knack for finding the ball.”

Rymer said his primary duties on defense are simple: hit people and stop offenses. And it was Sunday afternoon film sessions with the team that Rymer said helped develop him into a ball hawk.

“Knowing what they’re going to run gets you more prepared instead of just going out there and playing it,” Rymer said.

Several things Rymer looks for in film study are where the ball is going, what different formations the opposing team is running and whether or not the offensive line is pulling.

“That makes a big difference,” Rymer said of the linemen pulling. “It takes you right to the ball. That’s why I have so many tackles.”

Rushing also said watching the offensive line makes a big difference for Rymer and the rest of the linebacking corps.

“Coach (Jeff) Roberts did a good job teaching him to get his reads on the linemen,” Rushing said.

Rushing also credited the Green Wave’s defensive line for allowing Rymer to get to the ball carrier unobstructed on so many occasions.

“When a linebacker has that many tackles, it means the defensive line is doing a good job keeping the offensive line off the linebackers,” Rushing said.

Defense wasn’t the only side of the ball on which Rymer had an impact. In certain situations, Rushing opted to use Rymer as a fullback, especially after starting running back Khalil Brice went down with an injury.

“He scored the first touchdown against St. Aloysius,” Rushing said. “But we hate to play him on offense, because he’s such an important piece of the defense. He’s a very unselfish player. His goal is to win.”

With Rymer only being a junior, Rushing said he’s thrilled to have Rymer for another season.

“We really need him and some of the other guys to step up and be leaders,” Rushing said. “It’s his time, and we expect a lot of great things out of him.”

Those great things will no doubt include making more hits, and Rymer said he’s just trying to be generous to opposing players.

“It’s either hit or be hit, and I’d rather give hits than receive,” Rymer said.

Rymer is the son of William and Melissa Rymer.

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