“Langston over there, I was his first friend he ever met when he moved here from New York,” the senior athlete said.
The Notre Dame commit stood in the rain. He couldn’t believe his senior season was finished. He tried to process the Panthers’ 21-7 loss to Auburn in the Class 4A state quarterfinals.
“It just sucks, because all those friendships we’ve built, this was our last chance,” Mattingly said. “It’s all over now.”
Earlier this season, the tight end and linebacker talked about leading Mead past the quarterfinals for the first time in school history. He wanted to lead the Panthers to a state championship. He planned to celebrate the end of his high school career with a win.
“It’s really disappointing,” Mattingly said. “All that work we put in over the summer, just coming together as a team, it kills us to come up short like this.”
One day, though, it's likely Mattingly will look back and consider his senior season a successful one. He will understand what he accomplished with his teammates.
“We did a lot of great things this year,” he said. “Great players stepped up and we had a lot of younger guys step up, too. There were a lot of awesome plays that we had.”
When Mattingly made the trek with his teammates across the state to play in the quarterfinals, he planned to make a return trip for the semifinals.
“I think you take it for granted, until it actually happens, and then you realize how disappointed you actually are,” he said.
With the season behind him, he will be able to turn his attention to recruiting. While he remains committed to the Irish, Washington and Oregon continue to pursue him.
With the loss fresh on his mind, though, Mattingly wasn’t ready to talk about recruiting. He actually smiled when a reporter told him that, at least for one day, he wouldn’t be asked about where he planned to play college football.