Mattingly earns due respect

Patrick Newell

Chris Mattingly has my respect as one of the more solid, unsung, and definitely underrated running backs in Norwich history. Mattingly joined a select few Norwich backs to race past 2,000 career rushing yards last week against Windsor, and he nudged past the 1,000-yard mark against Ithaca in a 42-12 season-ending win for the Tornado last Friday. He wound up with just over 2,360 career rushing yards – not a shabby total and easily a top-five mark in Norwich history. Still, how will history remember Mattingly? It is quite possible he won’t be mentioned in a discussion of all-time great backs in Norwich history. He isn’t the fastest, strongest or most elusive runner Norwich has had – in fact, he may not be the strongest, fastest or most elusive runner on his own team this year. But he has that special something that you cannot put a finger on. “He just has that knack,” said Tim Mattingly, head football coach of Bainbridge-Guilford, who is also Mattingly’s uncle. “He twists and spins, falls forward…and he runs with a physical style.” When I think of Chris Mattingly, I notice how he gets the most out of each run. If there is just a yard to be gained, he’ll get two; two yards available, he’ll get three. The other glaring statistic that I noticed is Mattingly’s success running the ball the past three years coincided almost perfectly with Norwich’s game success. When he ran the ball effectively, the Tornado were usually winning games or at the least in the hunt. When Mattingly was shut down, typically the entire Norwich rushing offense stumbled. Ten other guys were on the field supporting his running efforts, but as a rule, as Mattingly went, so went the Tornado. Next month I will unveil my 2007 football all-stars, and I’m letting the cat out of the bag here: Mattingly will be on that team.