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West Ranch's Matt Christensen: Praise received

West Ranch receiver doesn’t need his due

Posted: October 27, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: October 27, 2011 1:55 a.m.

West Ranch senior wide receiver Matt Christensen may not be getting a lot of attention from outsiders, but he has helped key the Wildcats’ 5-2 start.

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West Ranch wide receiver Matt Christensen hasn’t received many headlines this season.

While his team has racked up wins, and other teammates have received praise, Christensen has continued to fly under the radar — and he’s just fine with that.

“They can say and write what they want,” Christensen says. “But I just work hard. If the team does well, then I’m happy and it doesn’t matter about the headlines.”

Through the Wildcats’ first seven games, though, he’s been impossible to ignore. And whether it matters or not, Christensen has earned a few headlines of his own: The unheralded superstar. A deceiving talent. A quest for greatness.

The 6-foot-2-inch, 17-year-old senior’s 386 yards on 16 receptions and three touchdowns lead the team in all three categories.

His receiving yards, in fact, are more than double any other receiver on the team.

But while Christensen has shown a knack for catching anything thrown his way — don’t expect him to boast about it.

“He would have been pretty happy going his high school career with no one knowing who he is,” says West Ranch head coach Sean O’Brien. “He’s humble. He has his head and heart in the right place — a thoroughly likeable kid.”

Oddly enough, it might be his likeable personality that has kept the attention off his stellar on-field performances.

Christensen has the height to be a feared wide receiver in the Foothill League, but his easy-going demeanor often causes opponents to overlook him.

“I can’t tell you the amount of people that have seen me and (been surprised) I’m getting on the field,” Christensen says. “I use it and I kind of laugh it off and get out there and do my best and prove them wrong.”

And those who know him well are always assured of one thing: no matter how much Christensen likes to joke around and have fun during stressful situations, he’ll always be ready to prove his talents when he takes the field.

“He’s comes to work everyday and has a smile on his face,” O’Brien says. “Practices are never a grind when he’s around. He’s a deceptively hard worker.”

And Christensen is no different off the field, where striving for success has always come naturally.

“Pretty much the same — this is just who he is,” says O’Brien, who is also Christensen’s English teacher. “He’s a very smart kid. Intense in the classroom in the same sort of way. The guy doesn’t do things without being successful. I don’t mean he’s natural in everything he does, but whatever he’s doing, he’ll excel at it because I don’t think he’ll accept anything else from himself.”

That hard work has allowed Christensen to build a stellar 3.9 GPA. Something he hopes will propel him to college next year — where he’d like to continue playing football.

But it’s another, less known, part of his life that helped transform him into the person he is today.

Christensen learned his leadership skills by participating in the Boy Scouts from the age of 11, becoming an Eagle Scout at the age of 15.

“He’s always been involved in sports,” says his mother, Becky Christensen. “And the Eagle (Scouts), I think kind of what it stands for: Duty to God, ‘on my honor I will do my best,’ the scout oath and the motto is all a good creed to live by.”

Christensen put those skills to the test when he used his Eagle Scout project as a way to give back to the local community.

“I went to a charter school in Castaic and I painted four-square courts and built tetherball courts,” he says, adding that prior to the project the school didn’t have anything remotely resembling a suitable playground for the children.

But like most of his accomplishments, he never brags about his community service, his football prowess, or even his good grades.

“He doesn’t like to bring attention to himself,” Becky says. “He’s just out to get the job done and do the best that he can.”

So when the Wildcats line up against Canyon High on Friday night, the play of Christensen could go a long way in determining the game’s outcome.

No matter what happens, though, if Christensen’s name doesn’t appear in Saturday’s headlines, he won’t mind — that’s just the way he is.

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