The product of two doctor parents, Matthew Sewell determined his career path early in life.
“I’ve never really wanted to do anything else,” he told The Journal.
The road to Sewell’s professional life began at 17 years old, but it didn’t travel through medical school and he’s not Doogie Howser. The journey began – and now continues – on the gridiron at Harold E. Harlan Stadium in Haughton.
Buccaneers’ head football coach Jason Brotherton recently announced he lured the now-26-year-old Sewell back between the pines to serve as the team’s offensive coordinator.
There have been more significant hires during a busy 2023 offseason in the world of Northwest Louisiana high school football, but you could argue none are more meaningful.
“Haughton football has been one of the most important things in my life,” said Sewell, who fills a void left by Kyle Wilkerson, a 27-year veteran at Haughton who remains on staff in a different capacity.
The move wasn’t easy for Sewell, who left the same post at Parkway High after three years under head coach Coy Brotherton – Sewell’s best friend and Jason’s younger brother.
“Coy has been my best friend since I was 18,” Sewell said. “He took a chance on me as an offensive coordinator when I was 22 years old, when he got his first head coaching job in 5A – that’s pretty crazy. That meant a lot to me. That made leaving even harder.”
Two other factors, named (wife) Morgan and (7-week-old daughter) Olivia, made it a no-brainer.
“Having a baby changed the way I thought about everything,” Sewell said. “Parkway is way out of the way of where I live and my family lives. Everything in our life is out (near Haughton). Mom (Leslie Barnes Sewell), Dad (Mike Sewell), Morgan’s parents, my brothers. It would be a strain (caring for the baby) working at Parkway.”
In addition to the laundry list of family-related reasons, another major factor in Sewell’s decision is the future with the Buccaneers. Sewell dreams of leading the Bucs out of the tunnel on Friday nights in the fall. Not that he couldn’t get the job while at Parkway should Jason Brotherton ever decide to step down at Haughton, but Sewell believes it would be best to be as close as possible.
“The guys at Haughton are my mentors and they are like family,” Sewell said. “The guys at Parkway are like my best friends.”
Sewell, who began attending games at Haughton in 2000 to watch older brother Chris Barnes play, has played either baseball or football under 10 current Buccaneers coaches.
“Any time you have former players that want to come back to your program it speaks well of the program,” Jason Brotherton said. “To get Matthew back at Haughton means a lot for our program, school, community, and to me personally.
“Matthew is a bright young mind with lots of energy and also a man of high character. I told him the day he left for Parkway that I was going to try to get him back to Haughton one day, and we couldn’t be more excited to have finally made that happen.”
Jason Brotherton will begin the 2023 season with two new, but familiar faces as coordinators (longtime Haughton assistant Josh O’Nishea was recently named the defensive coordinator).
Sewell’s claim to fame as a Haughton football player is being a freshman teammate to senior Dak Prescott. His high school days were plagued by injuries – a torn ACL, a broken collarbone and ripped up shoulder.
“That didn’t have anything to do with me not playing a whole lot,” Sewell joked. “I wasn’t good.”
However, the injuries forced Sewell to spend a lot of time with Haughton’s football and baseball coaching staffs. That sparked a drive to become a coach.
Following an injury-plagued football career at Haughton, Sewell caught on as a volunteer for Ruston football in 2014 while he attended Louisiana Tech. Rodney Guin, then Haughton’s head coach, welcomed his former player as a volunteer for the 2015 and 2016 campaigns.
After he graduated from Louisiana Tech, Sewell took a paid position at Haughton under Jason Brotherton until Coy Brotherton “took a chance” on a 22-year-old coach.
“I’m only 26, but this will be my 10th football season as a coach. I’ve coached in the Class 5A semifinals once and the quarterfinals twice,” Sewell said, “and we play in one of the toughest districts in Louisiana.”
And Sewell’s parents?
“Coaching is a very different lifestyle, but they never pressured me — they pushed me to do whatever I wanted to,” Matthew Sewell said. “However, I still didn’t tell my parents I wanted to be a coach until I was a senior in high school. They were very supportive, so that helped.”
It didn’t take Sewell long to learn how to succeed in the game.
“Make sure you’re surrounded by good football coaches,” Sewell said. “I’ve been fortunate with that. I’ve had that at Parkway. You need good people you can lean on and work together with.
“And you also have to believe in what you believe in and do what you do.”
Although he’s just in his mid-20s, it’s clear plenty of people believe in Matthew Sewell.
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