Matei Fitz grabbed the attention of Tuscarora High School's coaching staff prior to playing a snap for the Huskies' varsity football team.
"We knew we were getting something special with Matei before he even walked onto our campus at Tuscarora," Tuscarora head coach Brandon Wheelbarger said. "He had a great reputation through youth and travel ball, and we were very fortunate that he turned down opportunities at the private schools to build something with his friends in Leesburg."
Fitz played for the Loudoun County War Eagles youth football team before arriving at Tuscarora. He also played AAU basketball during his middle school years.
"Matei began his freshman year on the freshman team. He didn’t ask for any favors or handouts and wanted to prove himself," Wheelbarger continued. "He quickly moved his way up to varsity where he immediately made an impact. He would go on to start in the 2017 state championship game that year, recording double-digit tackles and multiple impact plays."
Fitz, a 6-foot-2, 265-pound defensive lineman, says his favorite part about football "is just being able to spend time with my brothers and have a great time doing it."
A rising senior, Fitz has racked up several accolades during his first three seasons at Tuscarora. He was selected as a 2017 Football University All-American and has been an annual selection on the all-district team. Following a 2019 season that saw him record 28 tackles for a loss -- highlighted by 14 sacks -- Fitz earned first-team all-state honors and was voted as Defensive Player of the Year for Region 4C and the Dulles District.
"I feel honored to be recognized by rewards," Fitz said. "But at the end of the day, football is a team sport so it’s the team accomplishments that we strive for the most."
Fitz has played in two state championship games (2017, 2019) at Tuscarora. The Huskies have produced an overall record of 33-9 during Fitz's three seasons, including nine playoff wins.
"I am not surprised by the success that Matei has had," Wheelbarger said. "Matei has been successful at every level of football that he has played. Matei set records as a sophomore and reset the bar as a junior. I’m excited to see what he does as a senior."
Following a stellar junior season, college offers began rolling in for the standout defensive lineman. Fitz has received more than 30 offers from colleges at all levels, including Air Force, Appalachian State, Army, James Madison, Kent State, Navy, Ohio, Villanova and multiple Ivy League schools.
With an uncertain future due to COVID-19, the Virginia High School League has delayed the start of the varsity football season to March of 2021. Wheelbarger is looking forward to seeing what Fitz can accomplish in his final varsity season.
"He is as hungry and driven as I have ever seen him," Wheelbarger said. "He has taken over more of a leadership role within the program and truly wants to leave this program better than it was when he arrived. Matei will go down as arguably the best defensive player to compete for the Tuscarora Football program."