CHATHAM, NJ - As a lacrosse goalie, Matt Nestler has a good view of the action in front of him. He has to know where the ball is at all times and react appropriately.
On the football field for Chatham, the junior running back/linebacker is always looking for an angle or a hole to exploit.
"I feel like I have a pretty good vision of the field, lacrosse kind of helps," Nestler said. "You get a whole view of the field from the cage and I try to bring that into football. My line makes the holes and I just have to see where that is and get there."
Nestler found his pathway to two rushing touchdowns, intercepted a pass and made eight tackles on Friday when Chatham won on the road against High Point, 33-0, breaking a string of 23 straight gridiron losses for the Cougars.
Matt Nestler is the TAP Chatham Athlete of the Week.
It was a happy scenario for Nestler, who celebrated his 17th birthday and the end of the losing streak on the same night.
"On the way home, we called the captains from last year's team and told them about breaking the streak," Nestler said. "It was a lot of fun sharing the details of the victory with them."
For Chatham to win this season, it needs players like Nestler to put in double duty by playing both sides of the ball. Nestler, who gained 75 yards on 15 carries, rarely leaves the field.
"Playing both sides of the ball is pretty tough," the 5-8, 185-pounder said. "You have to love being on the field and not coming off much. We have a lot of kids playing both sides. It's a lot of work, but if you have players who can do it, why not?
"I really like playing linebacker. I used to only play linebacker in youth football because you had to under a certain size to carry the ball. I have a lot of guys around me on defense like Ryan Barnett, who are out there crushing people."
Chatham quarterback Alex Sands, who gained 115 yards rushing in the victory over High Point, appreciates the work Nestler does out of the backfield.
"He's a slot back who fights for every yard, even negative yards if he has to," Sands said. "Everybody loves him. The whole team wants him to do well. It was a good game for him to have on his birthday. He also had that punt return (nullified by a penalty). I'm sure if they hadn't taken that away, we never would have heard the end of it."
Last year, Chatham coach Jason Izsa had Nestler as one of his featured backs in the Wing T attack. Now that Chatham runs a spread offense, there is less of an emphasis on running and that allows Nestler to play both ways.
"He's got toughness and ability, both carrying the football and at linebacker," Izsa said. "He has a nose for the football. He kind of anticipates where the play is going to be and he's a good enough student of the game to listen to what we want him to do. Him, Ryan Barnett and Nick Zack work well together. We have a lot of good athletes on the field and he's one of them."
Matt Nestler scores the first of his two touchdowns in Chatham's victory over High Point in video below