Was there really any choice for Lutcher’s Ruston Matherne to play any other position than quarterback?
Take a look around on any given Friday, and it’s commonplace to see three generations of Mathernes - all quarterbacks during their careers - watching the family’s legacy continue with the rise of Ruston Matherne as the Bulldogs’ starting quarterback.
“My family has God-given talent and have been quarterbacks for Lutcher,” Matherne said. “I knew I had to be one. I couldn’t be anything else. I wanted to be a Lutcher quarterback.”
Matherne established his credentials as a part-time starter in 2010 with a 7-0 record in games he started, but the 6-foot, 175-pound junior has been Lutcher’s top dog from the beginning of this season and guided No. 3 LHS (12-1) to a Class 4A state semifinal against No. 7 Karr-New Orleans (10-3) on Friday at Behrman Stadium at 7 p.m.
“It feels great to be part of this team, and we’ve been working hard for this,” Matherne said. “I hope we get all the way and win it all. I just want to keep going and push to get to the Dome and win. We want to get another state championship ring. It’s time.”
Matherne was around for the school’s last state championship as an eighth-grader in 2008 when Lutcher shut out Notre Dame, 17-0 for the Class 3A title. It was the school’s sixth overall title and third in five seasons, but the program is in pursuit of its first Class 4A crown after reaching the semifinals in that class two of the past three years.
Matherne would love nothing more than to become Lutcher’s seventh state championship quarterback and join an elite fraternity that achieved such distinction before him, including his godfather, Durel Matherne Jr., who quarterbacked the 1978 state championship team.
That’s just part of deep Matherne legacy at Lutcher that began with Ruston’s grandfather, Durel Matherne, a member of LSU’s “Go Team” on the 1958 national championship team, along with Ruston’s father - Taylor - who also quarterbacked the Bulldogs.
“It means a lot to me,” Ruston Matherne said of his family’s purple-and-gold tradition at the St. James Parish school. “I’m so glad to be able to follow through in the legacy, and hopefully it can keep going.”
Ruston Matherne, who divided time a year ago with Austin Brack and Jared Poche, seized the team’s starting job and hasn’t relinquished that role, although Poche still takes snaps at the position.
Ruston Matherne has displayed such a terrific grasp of Lutcher’s diverse spread offense, which averages 39 points, that longtime offensive coordinator Dwain Jenkins paid him the ultimate compliment.
“There are times where I’ll call a play and I don’t get through the full play call and he already knows what we want to do,” Jenkins said. “He understands what we’re trying to do as good as anybody we’ve had, and that’s saying a lot.”
Ruston Matherne has completed 65 percent of his passes - 128 of 198 - for 1,662 yards with 26 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He’s also proven to be more than an adept runner with 137 carries for 836 yards and 11 touchdowns.
It’s been during Lutcher’s stretch run, a span that began in the second half of a 45-7 win over St. Michael the Archangel, that veteran head coach Tim Detillier said Ruston Matherne’s season truly took off.
Included in that span for Ruston Matherne were back-to-back 200-yard passing games, highlighted by a career-high 278-yard, four-touchdown effort in a 48-6 first-round playoff win over Benton. He also had a pair of 100-yard rushing efforts, most recently a 166-yard, three-touchdown outing in a 49-14 second-round win over Washington-Marion with leading rusher Daniel Taylor sidelined with an injury.
“I feel much better about myself and my confidence has gone up,” Ruston Matherne said. “I’ve learned from my mistakes this year, and hopefully I’ve stepped it up enough for us to win a state championship.”