Wasco helps Lincoln on and off the field

Whether its on the line or helping with the Special Olympics, Matthew Wasco loves to be on the winning side.

Whether its on the line or helping with the Special Olympics, Matthew Wasco loves to be on the winning side. JOE MASON / TIMES PHOTO

Matthew Wasco always wants to win.

Whether he’s playing football for the Abraham Lincoln High School football team or he’s playing bocce ball with his good friends, he loves to see the smile on his teammates’ faces when they experience the thrill of victory.

In fact, when he’s playing bocce, the entire point of winning is watching his friends celebrate.

“Our school has a Special Olympics team where they match special-needs kids with guys from the school, and I’ve been one of the guys helping out,” said Wasco, a tight end and defensive end on the Railsplitters.

“Last year, we played against George Washington for the championship and we just lost. It was bad because I loved seeing how excited my partner would get when we would win.

“I love the Special Olympics because it gives those kids a chance to have fun and win. When we played, it was all fun, nobody got bullied. These kids love to win just like we do, so I loved watching them get all excited when they were doing good.”

During his football career at Lincoln, Wasco has had plenty of reasons to get excited about the way his team has played.

Last year, the Railsplitters won their first playoff game since 1989. This year, behind Wasco’s blocking, all-everything running back Sam Karr rushed for 418 yards in a game, establishing a standard for a Public League runner in a single game. And he helped guide Lincoln to the playoffs.

The Railsplitters’ quest for a second playoff win in as many years was spoiled Friday night after they fell to Martin Luther King, 38–8, in a Public League Class 6A first-round game at the Germantown Super Site.

Karr rushed for 124 yards and had a 25-yard touchdown gallop to give LIncoln an 8–0 lead after the first drive of the game, but that was the end of Lincoln’s scoring.

“This isn’t what we wanted, it was almost like we got in our own heads, because we’re better than this,” said Wasco, who recorded two tackles for a loss against the Cougars. “I’m happy we still have games left, we still have two more, so we’ll have a chance to get better. But we wanted to win because this was the playoffs.”

Lincoln’s strength all season was the play of its offensive and defensive lines, and Wasco is proud to be a member of both units.

The tight end rarely goes out for passes. Lincoln relies on a run-heavy offense, which means Wasco is usually driving a guy instead of looking for a pass. Catching the ball might be more fun, but that’s not what Wasco wants to do.

“We have (Karr) so we love to run and I like to do what we do,” said Wasco, who lives in Port Richmond. “Sometimes, I’d like to go out for a pass because that’s not fun, but I just do whatever is asked, and running works.

“Our lines work so hard in practice. We do a lot of one-on-one drills, a lot of hitting bags. We definitely put in work to get better. Everybody on the team works hard, but the lines definitely seem to put in a lot of work, because we have to. We have to do well to get everyone else doing well.”

Losing to King stings because Wasco was hoping to watch Lincoln gain momentum, but it doesn’t take the luster off a strong season.

Lincoln is 4–6 on the season, so it still has a chance to finish with a .500 record. One of those games will be the annual Thanksgiving Day game against Father Judge, a game Wasco is looking forward to.

“We definitely want to win that game, it’s our last game,” Wasco said. “We want to win every game, but when the playoffs are over, that’s our biggest game.”

Wasco’s football career at Lincoln may be winding down, but he still has a lot on his plate.

In years past, Wasco played basketball, but this year he plans on hitting the weights to prepare for a college football career. He’ll also have plenty to do as the vice president of the school.

“You pretty much do whatever is needed, make sure everything is done, and work with the teachers,” Wasco said. “There’s always something to do, so you just make sure you’re ready to do whatever they need.”

Wasco will also have to work on his bocce skills. He’s eyeing a state championship with the help of his partner.

“They treat it exactly like we treat football, it’s a big deal,” Wasco said. “Everybody wants to win, they treat it just like we treat winning and preparing to play football. I would love to win it this year because everybody gets so happy when you win. They were happy last year, too, because everyone gets a medal, but they’d be happier if they won.”

And while Wasco is helping the Special Olympics athletes, they’re helping him, too.

“I either want to study business or special education,” Wasco said. “I’ve learned a lot by doing the Special Olympics, and I really like it. It’s a chance to make a difference and help kids have fun. I think it’s a great career, possibly.” ••