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Prep football: Matich builds powerhouse at East (with video)
Prep football » Matich is in his fourth season as the Leopards’ coach.
First Published Sep 14 2013 06:17 pm • Last Updated Feb 14 2014 11:34 pm

Cramped inside the thin and steaming locker room, players await activation. Some sit on the skinny benches inside the cherry-red room, while others can’t keep still. The rap music that was blaring a few minutes earlier suddenly is shut off.

Every East Leopard piles in as silence permeates.

At a glance

Matich at East

Brandon Matich is in his fourth season as East’s coach.

Year Record

2010 8-3

2011 12-2

2012 5-8*

2013 4-0

Overall 29-13

* — forfeited six wins because of ineligible players

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Activation begins.

East football coach Brandon Matich, who is in his fourth season at the helm, introduces his offensive starters. One by one: Name, position, synopsis. Claps from coaches and fellow Leopards follow.

Defense comes next. Matich tosses out nicknames, the kind only those fully ingrained in a program would understand and enjoy.

Following a passionate pre-game speech before the Leopards’ first Region 6 game of 2013, the activation is complete.

They’re ready, they play, they win.

It’s as simple as that. Coaching football, teaching football and coercing the best out of high school athletes as more than just football players is, as Matich explains, his calling.

It’s how he’s rebuilt and re-constructed the program he grew up cheering for into one of the state’s elite in three seasons.

"I feel like I’m good at this and helping kids in doing this job," he said. "This is what I want to do forever, and nothing is going to derail me from that."

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story continues below

A man with a plan

Dr. Paul Sagers nearly missed out on Brandon Matich. In fact, Matich, who established Park City as a Class 3A power, interviewed for the East job in 2009.

He didn’t get it.

The Leopards won one game that season.

Sagers, the principal at East, said he recalls a conversation he and Matich had not long after. He told Sagers that his gut feeling told him they’d cross paths again.

Matich was hired the next season as East’s coach, just like grandfather Grant Martin, who led the Leopards to three state championships in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s.

"I know he could have gone a lot of places because he had a lot of offers, but this is the place he wanted to go," Sagers said. "As a principal, if you can get someone that wants to be here that bad and is committed ... it’s just the perfect hire."

The first order of business for the program was knocking on doors. Matich knew what kind of talent was in the area. He needed to get the community to buy into East again, to get it to believe in what he was building.

"I knew that they needed somebody in here who was really going to work hard for that Glendale community and those Polynesian kids and get them into college and get them something to hope for, not just high school football," he said.

He’d drive down from Park City every day during spring 2010, open the weight room for his players then he’d visit with players and their families.

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