The start of high school can be hard enough. But it could be even harder if everyone knows you before you arrive.
That’s exactly how it was for Matt Comas.
Now a senior at Father Judge High School, Comas entered school with big expectations. It wasn’t for his talents in football or basketball, but he was well known for a tough grandfather, Robert McLernan, who spent years as a disciplinarian at the school.
“When I got here, everybody said, ‘You’re (McLernan’s grandson), so you better be good,’” Comas said. “Freshman year, everybody would say that they know my grandpop, and he was a real tough guy, so they knew I wouldn’t get in trouble. Everybody knew him, all of the teachers.
“I don’t get in trouble too much. Maybe a little for being late a few times, but I don’t get in much trouble.”
In the classroom, he’s a perfect gentleman.
In sports, he causes chaos.
Comas is a two-sport star at Judge. During the fall, he was a linebacker and tight end on the football team, and now he’s the starting center on the basketball team.
He didn’t begin the season as a starter, he was one of the first guys off the bench, but injuries put him into the starting lineup. And he doesn’t get much time off because the Crusaders don’t have a lot of other big men.
“You have to be smart, you can’t get in foul trouble because of that, and I’m still getting used to starting, so I’m trying,” Comas said. “It’s going pretty well. There’s a lot of talent on the team, I just try and help them. I’m trying to stay in good shape because I can’t really come out. But we have a lot of good players.”
Comas knows his role, and plays it to perfection.
The Crusaders have a lot of guys who can score. The young players on the team offer plenty of skill and if they continue to improve, next year could be a very special one in Holmesburg.
But they do need the guy to lead them this year, both on and off the court. That’s where Comas comes in. Not only was he a great leader in football, he’s now helping pave the way for the basketball team. And while the season hasn’t gone the way he hoped it would, and injuries have caused a lot of havoc with lineups, Comas has kept the team on the right path, playing hard and sticking together.
“I’m happy with the way they’re playing, I wish we had a better record, but we’re playing together,” Comas said. “We’re getting better.
“I just try to do what I can for the team. Defense, that’s important. Same as I did in football. I just try and do whatever I can do to help the team.”
The Crusaders opened the season with a brutal schedule, although just about every team in the Catholic League has talent. It didn’t help that Aidan Dooley, who was expected to be one of the team’s top players, missed the bulk of the season with a bum shoulder he injured while playing quarterback during the fall.
Since he returned, the Crusaders, who opened the season with 10 straight losses, are 2-1 in their last three. One of the wins came at West Catholic, with Dooley scoring 17.
Good times are definitely on the horizons for the Crusaders, but Comas knows those good times might come after he’s graduated.
Judge loses just three seniors to graduation, and while all are good players, none are in the top three in scoring.
It doesn’t matter that he won’t be there, Comas is proud that this team could be a contender next season.
“I’ll be watching, I love these guys,” Comas said. “They’re going to be really good this year. They’re good this year. We’ve played some really tough games. But they’re working hard. We all are. But next year, I’ll be really happy if they’re one of the best teams and they could be.”
While the Crusaders are on pace to be a playoff team and possibly more a season from now, Comas will likely be done playing sports for his school.
While he has the talent to play sports at the next level, in the fall he’s bound for Penn State, where he’ll enter as undecided.
“I’m not sure what I want to do and Penn State is great for people to go and figure out what they want to do,” said Comas, who maintains a 3.9 grade point average and is ranked in the top 10 percent of his senior class. “It’s a great school, I really liked it. I’m going up to main campus, and there’s a lot of things you can do up there. I love the campus.”
And good news, he doesn’t have any relatives who were the dean, so he goes up with no reputation.
“It wasn’t bad, it was pretty good having everyone know you, and everyone liked him,” Comas said. “I didn’t get in trouble, so it was fine.”
But the Somerton resident will miss playing for the Crusaders.
Comas, who spends his summers lifeguarding in Wildwood, will miss playing for Judge. And he’ll be watching from Happy Valley.
“I’ll miss playing both sports here,” Comas said. “I love the school. We didn’t have great years, but we got better and we had fun. I’ll miss it a lot.”