This is the second installment of CATCHING UP WITH THE TARPLEYS, an inside scoop into the lives of one of the families that has contributed a great deal to the success of the Wayzata Trojan football team in recent years.
In this segment, we will visit with Matt Tarpley. Matt was on the freshmen team when Wayzata won it’s first championship in 2005, and played a large role as a senior on the 2008 championship team including catching the go-ahead touchdown to defeat Blaine in the Metrodome that year.
Matt is now in his Junior year at Ole Miss, and is excited to be a part of the football team as a wide receiver.
|Ole Miss Wide Receiver Matt Tarpley.
Daniel Gustafson: WHAT YEAR ARE YOU NOW AT OLE MISS?
Matt Tarpley: I’m a Junior.
DG: AND YOU WALKED ON TO THEIR FOOTBALL PROGRAM, DID YOU NOT?
MT: I went to camp here and they invited me to be on their football team. It was more like a preferred walk-on, but same thing.
DG: WHAT HAS THAT BEEN LIKE FOR YOU?
MT: It’s been quite an experience moving from the Minneapolis area. It’s a lot different. I’ve adjusted well, have some great teammates, we are struggling right now as a team, but we will get back on track.
DG: WHAT IS DIFFERENT ABOUT IT?
MT: The size of the guys here in the Southeastern Conference is one of the biggest things. The speed of the game of college football too. The overall practice time that you put in day in and day out.
DG: HOW MUCH BIGGER ARE THEY – SEC VERSUS BIG 10?
MT: There isn’t a definate answer to that, but speed I would say is the biggest difference.
DG: HOW DID PLAYING AT WAYZATA PREPARE YOU FOR THAT?
MT: The things we did at Wayzata, the early morning workouts, the 7-on-7, the constant being around football mentality–that is the way college is. Those kind of workouts we have at Wayzata–the year ’round mentality we have–which is great.
DG: 2008 IS WHEN YOU PLAYED BLAINE IN THE DOME?
DG: SO YOU WERE PART OF TWO CHAMPIONSHIP TEAMS THEN?
MT: I was on the freshman team in 2005 as well.
DG: FOR LACK OF A BETTER WORD, YOU WERE DOING A LITTLE WILDCAT, WERE YOU NOT?
MT: I played quarterback, I played receiver, I played everything.
|Matt Tarpley at Ole Miss.
DG: WHAT ARE YOU PLAYING NOW AT OLE MISS?
DG: AND HOW IS IT GOING FOR YOU?
MT: It’s going well. I haven’t seen any action yet, but I am working in on 2nd team, and working in on special teams–but no action in games yet.
DG: WHAT LEVEL OF COMMITMENT DID IT TAKE AT WAYZATA?
MT: There is a really high standard that is set by the guys and the coaches, and if you didn’t meet that standard of work ethic–then you weren’t going to see the field. These are things they demanded of you early on when you entered the program.
DG: HOW WERE YOU ABLE TO RESPOND TO THAT AND EXCEL?
MT: A lot of my teammates helped me out at Wayzata.
DG: WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO WIN THE CHAMIPIONSHIP IN 2008?
MT: That was a feeling unlike any other. The guys this year, and who have won it in the past, you remeber that for the rest of your life. You have flashbacks in your memories, [Ole Miss] Coach Nutt likes to say that these are the best days of your life–college football. But I can tell you that the days with your high school teammates are unlike any other. There is nothing to compare.
|Matt Tarpley celebrates after catching the go-ahead touchdown from Fritz Rock to win the 2008 State Chamipionship.
Photo Eric Berg.
DG: WALK ME THROUGH THE PLAY TO WIN THE 2008 CHAMPIONSHIP:
MT: I remember everything about that play. Fritz Rock threw it to me, the laces on the ball…
DG: YOU THINK ABOUT IT?
MT: Yeah, anytime I need motivation I think back to those days at Wayzata.
DG: YOU AND AJ PLAYED ON THE SAME TEAM IN 2008?
MT: He was a Junior, and started at linebacker, and I started at Wide Receiver. So we both played on the same team a year apart.
DG: WHAT WAS IT LIKE PLAYING WITH YOUR BROTHER?
MT: That is an experience I will never forget. Maybe we will someday again. There is nothing like having that brotherly connection out there on the field. With how tight our team was that year, it was just amazing to have a family member involved with it.
DG: IN ANOTHER TWENTY YEARS, WHAT WILL YOU REMEMBER ABOUT PLAYING WITH YOUR BROTHER?
MT: I will clearly remember winning that State Championship with him, and hugging and laughing even as we knew we were going different places next year. The bond over that team.
DG: DO YOU REMEMBER WHAT YOU TALKED ABOUT AS YOU WON THE GAME, THE DAY AFTER, THE WEEK AFTER? WHAT DID YOU GUYS TALK ABOUT?
MT: We were both extremely proud of each other, I can tell you that. I know when AJ got the offer from Stanford, it was an extremely proud moment. I was going to Ole Miss, the fact that we were both going to be playing Division I football, was definitely great.
DG: WHAT ARE YOU STUDYING AT OLE MISS?
MT: I’m currently in finance.
DG: How is that going for you?
MT: It’s going great! I’m 22 credits away from being done with a double major in finance and real estate.
DG: HAVE YOU BEEN KEEPING TABS ON THE TROJANS THIS YEAR?
MT: Oh yeah, I have seen that they are undefeated, I saw the big win against Eden Prairie online. I am really proud of them. Those guys are doing it. I can tell this is a special classs, just like last years class. I hope they win another State Championship.
DG: THANKS FOR YOUR TIME, ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT TO ADD?
MT: I just hope those guys have a great year, and remember this time for the rest of their lives.
Stay tuned for part 3, as Sophomore Linebacker AJ Tarpley talks about his experiences at Stanford and playing at Wayzata.
1. Parents Audie and Karen Tarpley give an inside look at the 2008 Championship
2. Junior Wide Receiver for Ole Miss Matt Tarpley talks about playing at Wayzata and in the SEC
3. Sophomore Linebacker AJ Tarpley talks about his experiences at Stanford and playing at Wayzata