By Johnny Curren
In what was arguably the most highly anticipated matchup of the weekend in Southern California, Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian played host to West Hills (Calif.) Chaminade on Friday night, and it’s safe to say that the contest lived up to every ounce of the hype, and then some.
A game marked by offensive fireworks from the get-go, Oaks Christian emerged from the affair with a 65-55 victory thanks in large part to an outstanding effort by USC commit Matt Corral.
The Class of 2018 quarterback put his skill set on full display, completing 17 of 35 passes for 407 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions, while also rushing for 59 yards and one more score.
Following the victory, which also included a strong showing by Corral’s teammate and fellow Class of 2018 Trojans pledge Bo Calvert, the strong-armed passer was, not surprisingly, in high spirits.
“This was definitely a big win,” Corral said. “My mindset was the same mindset that the whole team had – we all wanted to come out strong. We’ve never beaten Chaminade. The last time we played them we lost, so that was definitely on our mind.”
As a perfectionist, however, Corral wasn’t completely satisfied with his own individual performance. Feeling some soreness in his shoulder earlier this month, the 6-foot-2 passer was forced to give his arm a one-week break at one point in fall camp, and he had just starting throwing again on the Tuesday leading up to the game.
“I got a little sloppy at one point, in the middle of the game, but that’s what I get for taking a week off from throwing,” Corral said. “Everything is fine now, though. My line did a great job, and everyone else did a great job. Those interceptions were just on me.”
Still, those few mistakes were outweighed heavily by the high number of positive plays that Corral produced, and the fact that he was able to do it all despite the fact that he wasn’t at his best makes his performance all the more impressive, and something that USC head coach Clay Helton is sure to have taken notice of.
And speaking of the Trojans, Corral says that his pledge is just as solid today as it was back when he originally gave it to Helton and his staff back in February.
“It’s still just as strong as ever for sure – 100 percent,” Corral said. “I have a great relationship with [Quarterbacks Coach] Tyson Helton, and I just love SC.”
With a busy schedule, Corral wasn’t able to make it up to USC during the Trojans’ fall camp schedule, but that doesn’t mean that he hasn’t been in near-constant contact with the coaching staff as of late.
“I haven’t been up there in awhile because I’ve been busy with practice, but I’ve still been talking to them all the time,” Corral said. “I talk to both of the Helton’s, and also [High School Relations Coordinator] Gavin Morris. I’m in contact with them about once a week.”
Corral was on the USC campus earlier this summer, however, when he got a chance to work directly with his future position coach.
“The last time I was up there was for the Rising Stars Camp,” Corral said. “I loved working with Coach Tyson. He was a little bit soft on me, but I know when I go up there he’s going to be a lot tougher.”
Corral also plans to be a frequent visitor to the Coliseum this season to check out the Trojans in action in person.
“I’ll be at the Utah State game (Sept. 10),” Corral said. “I’m going to try to make it to every home game if I can. I would have liked to have made it to the Alabama game, but it’s all the way in Texas.”
Corral will still be watching USC’s battle with the Crimson Tide on T.V., and he’s going to be keeping a close eye on his former Oaks Christian teammate, freshman wide receiver Michael Pittman, who had a solid showing in fall camp for the Trojans.
“I’m looking forward to the game,” Corral said. “I want to see Pitt get in. I want to see him play against Alabama. USC definitely has a chance in the game. They have some athletes, and I know Coach Clay knows how to use them.”
With an eye toward the future, both Corral and Calvert have taken on the role of recruiters for the Trojans, while also developing a bond with a number of fellow USC commits – from their own class, as well as the Class of 2017.
“I’ve been talking to T.J. [Pledger], Bookie [Radley], guys from IMG like Brian [Hightower] and Stephen Carr,” Corral said. “I love the linemen that are coming in. As soon as those guys commit they DM me and tell me what’s up, like, ‘We’re going to build this around you,’ and that gets me pumped. Guys like Andrew Vorhees. I’m building a strong relationship with those guys.”’
But that’s in the long-term. The more immediate focus for the talented signal-caller is the season at hand at Oaks Christian. And with the win against Chaminade serving as a potential stepping-stone toward the rest of the 2016 campaign, Corral and his teammates are most certainly on the right path.
“This is definitely something to build off of,” Corral said. “It’s only going to get better moving forward.”