Bombers’ Machalik continues family tradition – Times News Online
Football courses through Matt Machalik’s veins – it’s in his blood.
The sport has been a family tradition for several decades, which has helped instill an immense amount of love and appreciation for the game in the junior signal caller.
Machalik did his best this season to carry on that family tradition, and it’s safe to say he made his ancestors proud, putting together one of the best offensive seasons in Palmerton and Times News Area history. Machalik’s gaudy numbers both through the air and on the ground have earned him the heralded Times News/Lehigh Valley Health Network Football Player of the Year.
“My dad played college football and then my grandfather, and I also have a bunch of uncles and cousins that all played football, so I grew up with it. They have all passed down that love and passion for the game down to me, especially my dad,” said Machalik. “I just love the game. It’s when I have the most fun.”
The $6 price of admission to see Machalik play on Friday nights is undoubtedly one of the best bargains in the region. His ability to escape pressure, make off-schedule throws and seemingly disappear into a pile of defenders and then reappear unscathed and on his way to the end zone created numerous electrifying moments over the year, especially in the run game. When things broke down, that’s when Machalik was at his best.
The 6-1, 190-pounder rushed for 1,216 yards and 21 rushing scores at an impressive 7.4 yards per carry. He had six games with over 100 rushing yards, and currently sits as the school leader in career rushing yards with 3,206 yards and career rushing touchdowns with 58.
“A lot of the time when those plays happen, I’m just out there playing and not even thinking. I’m just trying to extend a play or I’m trying to find a lane. I grew up playing backyard football, again with a lot of my family members, so sometimes those type of plays remind me of that,” said Machalik. “I won’t lie, I’ll look back at the tape and sometimes I’m like ‘wow, that was a crazy run.’ But then you also see on the tape all the great downfield blocks from teammates that helped spring the run. Without the support of my teammates, none of those big plays happen.”
Machalik’s abilities in the run game have been on display ever since his freshman season, but he has certainly put the time in over the past two off-seasons to get better from the pocket.
Machalik made a huge leap with his passing game numbers from his sophomore campaign to this year’s junior season. As a sophomore, he threw for 1,308 yards and nine passing touchdowns, and then this season upped his game, passing for 2,554 passing yards and 31 touchdowns – an improvement of over 1,200 yards and 22 touchdowns.
Machalik set the school single-season passing yards mark this season as well as single-season passing touchdowns, and now holds the career passing touchdowns record with 49. He is just 69 yards away from surpassing the Palmerton career passing yards mark as he currently sits with 4,562 passing yards. Machalik is also the only player in Blue Bombers’ history to throw for over 2,000 yards and rush for over 1,000 yards in a single season.
“There were so many times where Matt’s maturity helped us win football games,” said Palmerton head coach Chris Walkowiak. “He really became a leader this season and became more vocal. There were instances in games where you could just see it in his eyes from him that he was going to make a big play, and that gave our other guys confidence. He also became even more of a dual-threat quarterback with his improvement in the passing game. He worked with our quarterbacks coach Mark Versuk on different things in the offseason and you could see the difference. All year long he did a great job of staying poised in the pocket and keeping his eyes downfield and he also had a very talented group of wide receivers, who he developed a strong connection with.”
Machalik is set up for a big-time senior season as he will most likely hold every significant offensive record in Bomber program history when his career is all said and done. Machalik not only has rewritten the Palmerton record books, but he also became the first player in District 11 history this season to throw for over 300 yards (305) and rush for over 200 yards (230) in the same game, which he did in a win over Jim Thorpe in Week 4.
Go get your season tickets now, because Matt Machalik’s senior campaign could very well be the best show in town in 2023.
“To win this award, it really is a true honor. It’s something I would never have been able to accomplish without my teammates, coaches and my family. They have all helped me become the player and the person that I am today,” said Machalik. “I’m just proud to be a part of a program that shows a lot of toughness game in and game out no matter how many kids we have dressed.
“If you look at our team, we have a ton of playmakers and a ton of really good athletes out there that can play multiple positions and do multiple things, and it’s a big reason why I was able to have such a good season. I just want to thank them all and let them know how grateful I am.”