LAWRENCE — Jose Matos walked into the Lawrence High weight room last January and almost felt like a stranger.
He was so far behind his teammates after missing his junior football season, even he questioned if there was a future for him on the gridiron.
“It terrified me,” said Matos. “Right there, I felt like the sixth man on a five-man line, the guy standing on the sideline when the game was going on. And I didn’t like the way it felt. I just knew that wasn’t the way I would spend my senior football season.”
Matos would soon get healthy and make it all the way back. He had no idea just how long a trip it was.
Just seven days old when it happened, Matos had no idea the extent of the damage that was done to his left shoulder.
“I was born in the Dominican Republic and while I was still at the hospital, the nurse dropped me on my shoulder, cracking the bone,” said Matos, whose Lancers (0-3) host Tewksbury (3-0) here at Veterans Stadium tomorrow night. “It healed the wrong way in the joint. It was something I lived with and for a while I didn’t even know what it was.”
As he grew, the shoulder joint became more of an issue.
“I couldn’t do pushups, and I couldn’t shoot layups in basketball,” he said. “I couldn’t even do jumping jacks correctly.”
Doctors looked at the twisted joint, which prevented him from lifting his left hand above his head, and decided he needed to finish growing before fixing it.
By ninth grade, Matos had fallen in love with football. Denied the chance to play JV ball, he sucked up the pain and started at center for the Lancer freshmen.
“Nothing was going to stop me, I mean this was high school,” he said.