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Honors keep rolling in for Smith
A month removed from earning Valley Oak League honors for his performance on the field and in the classroom, Ceres High senior Matt Smith joined 25 other players on the 2007 All Sac-Joaquin Section Football Team as announced last month by the National Football Foundation, Sacramento Chapter.

"It's a big accomplishment," said Smith, who received honorable-mention accolades for his punting. "I didn't even know it happened until today. Coach (Brett) Johnson told me this morning in his class. Hopefully, this will put my name out there."

Added Johnson: "He was definitely worthy of it. Matt bailed us out quite a few times with his foot. He was pretty consistent."

Smith planned to follow in his older brother's footsteps by enlisting in the Marines after graduation. But now he's considering a different path in life because of the success he's had on the gridiron. He'll make a final decision in March.

"The Marines is something I always wanted to do," Matt said. "But I still want to play football. I don't want to give it up. I've been told I have the ability to kick in college. Hopefully, I can go somewhere."

Smith made the VOL academic team for posting a 3.8 grade-point average during the first quarter.

"I started focusing more the last two years because of football," said Smith, who has a cumulative GPA of 2.8. "It was motivation for me to get my grades up."

Matt had a stellar senior campaign for the winless Bulldogs (0-10) thanks to his dedication during the offseason.

"I kicked twice a week and did leg lifts," he said.

Matt punted 50 times for 1,918 yards. The VOL first team honoree had six punts over 50 yards. He also had four punts downed inside the opponent's 20-yard line.

Smith's contributions weren't limited to punting.

He totaled 1,294 yards and six touchbacks with a long of 60 on 27 kickoffs.

He ranked third on the team in tackles with 55. He also had three sacks, two quarterback hurries, one fumble recovery and a pass deflection while playing linebacker.

Matt rumbled for a team-high 433 yards and scored one touchdown while shouldering the load at running back. He carried the ball 123 times.

Approximately 26 football players from 18 high schools were selected to the All Sac-Joaquin Section Team.

The last Bulldog to gain such recognition was standout middle linebacker Cruz Leon in 2003.

"I'm just happy," Matt said. "I can't even explain it."