“I’m used to it…I’ve been doing it my whole life,” Palomar quarterback Matt Romero said on playing a position under so much pressure.
Currently leading the Southern Conference in both touchdown passes, passing yards per game, and was at one point tying as the nation’s leading touchdown passer, Romero has been awarded player of the week twice already this season, substantiating his drastic improvement from his freshman year.
Romero first stepped foot on the gridiron at the age of six. Starting out as a center, he quickly switched to the quarterback position and has been playing quarterback ever since.
The two sport athlete attended Oceanside High School where he played both baseball and football. Romero played shortstop and pitcher, but his baseball career came to an end after breaking his arm his freshman year in high school. Since then his focus shifted, and was solely directed on football.
With a three year varsity career under his belt, Romero however was unable to receive any football scholarship offers after high school. After communication with the Palomar football coaches, Romero made the decision to play close to home at Palomar College.
Romero joined the Comets in the Fall 2016, immediately starting as the Comets first-string quarterback as a freshman.
“It’s a faster game than what he was used to in high school” head coach Joe Early said. The Comets encountered a few hindering blocks along the road, ending the 2016-17 season with a disappointing 4-6 record.
Romero finished the season with 23 touchdowns, 2574 yards, 12 interceptions and 23 sacks.
“First year I wasn’t really ready…but being used to how the game is at the JUCO level, I was more prepared this year than I was last year,” Romero said. He got a taste of what football at the college level is like, which ripened him for the following season.
“There’s a learning curve to it, the more reps you can get, generally you’d like to think a better a player can get. And quarterback is a unique position, he’s got to know what’s going on at all times and having a year under his belt has really helped.” Early said.
Working up experience and gaining familiarity with the college level of play, Romero knew what to expect entering his second season. “I feel like the game slowed down a lot this year from last year, I watched a lot of film over the off season, and I was training a lot,” Romero said.
Community college sports teams are quite transitional, with new faces on the roster each year. Having to build the chemistry from the ground up, Romero said, “We got together [with the] receivers a lot in the off season and we were throwing a lot a couple times a week so we got pretty close with each other and we became more like a team, a brotherhood, last year everybody was kind of to themselves, so it’s much different this year.”
One of Romero’s memorable moments was the Southern Conference foot ball opener against Orange Coast College bouncing back from a 21-7 deficit. Trailing 27-21 with 17 seconds left on the clock, Romero hit Wide Receiver Terrell Arnolds for a touchdown pass to win the game.
After nine games, Romero has become one of the best quarterbacks at the junior college level in the nation with 24 touchdowns, 279.9 yards per game, and 205 completed passes.