Haverford School's Galambos turning versatility into an art

Posted: September 18, 2012

IN HIS FIRST extended opportunity while serving Haverford School as a varsity football player, Matt Galambos made rushing look like a work of art.

Those who've watched him blossom as a well-rounded young man were not surprised in the least.

When Galambos, a 6-2, 225-pound senior and Collingdale resident, entered HS as a freshman, he barely knew how to doodle. Now he views himself as a budding artist, and painting is something he could picture doing long-range.

Over the summer, Galambos, who's mostly projected to play linebacker, made an oral commitment to Pitt. But once he steps onto campus . . . hey, who knows.

"I could see him playing tailback there," Fords assistant Lance Shaw, a star running back at St. Joseph's Prep and Fordham, said during Tuesday's windswept practice. "I'm not kidding. You should see the tape. Of course, he's strong, but he's fluid, too. He looked great."

Shaw was referring to Haverford's most recent outing, Saturday's 20-13 win over Lawrenceville School, of New Jersey. Therein, having switched positions from tight end to tailback because of an injury to sophomore Philip Poquie, Galambos powered/nimbled his way to 206 yards and one touchdown on 19 carries.

He'd run once as a junior and four times as a soph.

"At tight end, teams were really keying on Matt," coach Michael Murphy said. "Now we're going to move him around - tailback, fullback, tight end. Our opponents will have to look for him all over."

Meanwhile, Galambos might now be on the hunt for a photo from the game, as in something he can turn into his next painting.

That's what he does. Finds great sports pics and puts them on canvas.

"Not to sound conceited," he said with a smile, "but my favorite is the one I did of myself."

He said it's about 3 feet by 4 feet and shows him running with the  ball - after a catch, that is - in last season's finale with archrival Episcopal Academy.

"That was my big project to end the school year," Galambos said. "It was probably the fastest one I did. I felt so confident about everything I'd learned from our art teacher, Mr. [Chris] Fox. It was like,'OK, I have all the skills. I already know what I'm doing.'

"I've had Mr. Fox since ninth grade. I began just drawing things with pencils. Now I can do nice paintings.

"It was pretty cool to see myself on canvas and also be able to say, 'I did that.' "

In most of his other paintings, Galambos - to pronounce the middle part of his surname, use Lambeau Field as a guide - has gone for unabashed joy.

"I did one of Kobe [Bryant] after he won a championship," Galambos said. "It's great to see the excitement and emotion someone shows after doing something like that."

Galambos last season was one of only seven juniors to earn first-team Daily News All-City honors. He did so at linebacker, thanks to his ability to storm to the ball and punish, but he also notched 27 catches for 439 yards and six TDs.

He learned of the switch to tailback early last week, then focused on doing his best.

"Our offensive line had a great game," he said. "Every time I got the ball, the holes were pretty big. I just ran forward and tried to make guys miss."

His blockers were center Connor Atkins, guards Steve Tellez and Tommy Curry, tackles Stewart Denious and Joseph Solomon and tight end Jeff Odiorne.

"I was fortunate to get the ball that many times," Galambos said. "It showed that coach had trust in me. Everything went right. A few times, I put on moves. Other times, I went over people."

In Tuesday's practice, Galambos lined up in multiple positions.

"I wouldn't mind staying [at running back] the rest of the season," he said. "But whatever the team needs, I'm all for it. I just like making an impact, wherever it is, on both sides of the ball."

Galambos said he also eyed Cardinal O'Hara, Malvern Prep and West Catholic as an eighth-grader, but opted for Haverford School because he figured it offered the best education in Delaware County.

Collegewise, his choice came down to Pitt or Harvard.

"I went with Pitt because it's a great balance of academics and football, especially with their move to the ACC," he said. "I like that there's a good buffer zone [from Philly], but that it's close enough that my family can watch see me play. I love the new coaching staff, too. Everything about it is just right.

"But, yes, it was hard to dismiss Harvard because of the pure prestigiousness and the academics."

At Pitt, Galambos figures he'll major in environmental or civil engineering, while also honing his art skills.

On the football field, you could see him anywhere . . . And on the locker room walls, maybe Matt Galambos' fellow Panthers will see his paintings.

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Contact Ted Silary at silaryt@phillynews.com. High school coverage online at www.philly.com/rally.

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