RB Justin Pineau went from “laying hits to taking them”

It took a season ending shoulder injury to re direct Mathieu Martin Matador Justin Pineau’s football journey from one of laying hits, to taking them.

“I was playing DB and came in to tackle, he did a cut and hit my left shoulder. It dislocated and tore some muscles”

A rookie at the time, Pineau underwent surgery to repair the damaged muscles and endured nine months of gruelling physio.

Not returning to the game he loved was never an option. With the scope of his injury Pineau was not able to tackle without risking re injuring his shoulder. An athletic 5-foot-9, 160-pounds, Matador coaches began assessing where they could utilize his potential, while protecting his shoulder. A run heavy team, in a run dominant league led them to teaching Pineau how to be a ball carrier.

Since the age of ten, Pineau had played in the defensive secondary and so found the transition from laying the hits, to receiving them “tough at the start”.

“I liked to hit, when I went to RB I didn’t think it was really fun, but after playing a couple games I realized I could run people over and score TD’s.”

Pineau started his junior season, and despite just learning the RB position he averaged 8 yards per carry, scoring three majors for the Matador’s. With camp a month away, and fresh off the National tournament in Wolfville, NS, Pineau has football fever. With one year under his belt and the extra reps he took with team NB, Pineau is playing with the aim of winning the leagues rushing title. Confident, but not arrogant, Pineau is aware this will take the work of all, and may require his emerging as a leader.

“I need to get my team up, get them together. There’s some who play just to play, my O line has some big boys, but it has to come from themselves, they have to get motivated”

Part of Pineau’s leadership style is to show fellow Matador’s what it means to commit to this game. In preparation for the season Pineau trains daily, either in the weight room or doing conditioning work, and often times winds up doing both. His main focus of lifting is to gain size and power, which he believes will make him a more versatile runner”

“I want to develop more power in my running. I like to bounce to the outside, but this year I need to stop hesitating as much and do less shake and bake and more north and south running”

The Matador’s head coach, Nick Murray, believes in Pineau’s potential as a leader and a play maker.

“If we can keep him on the field he can do a lot of stuff for us, he’s a little ball of energy, I pity his teachers”, laughed coach Murray in our conversation, “He has unique play making abilities, he’s one of the better athletes I’ve coached, we’ve just got to keep him healthy and eligible”.

Pineau is looking forward to the Matador’s season opener against the Fredericton Black Cats, a rematch of the only game they nearly won in 2016. Next to this match up Pineau is excited about the annual L’Acadie bowl against rival French school, the L’Odysee Olympiens. The Matador’s lost last years match up in front of an estimated four thousand fans.

“It’s a special game, everyone goes, there’s yellow and blue, and orange everywhere. There’s so much spirit”

Although he has two seasons of high school ball left, Pineau’s dreams extend beyond the Matador’s practice field. His hope is to play football at the junior college level south of the border, and from there dreams of catching the attention of larger programs. Aware of the complexity and difficulty in playing in the States Pineau is approaching his dream confidently, yet realistically.

“To go straight to division one from New Brunswick is pretty hard, but I could try and start somewhere lower, and work my way up.”

Justin Pineau (#22)
Running Back
5’9, 160lbs

Teams: Mathieu Martin Matador’s, Greater Moncton Football Tiger Cats
Commitment: None
Official Visits: None
Consideration: Junior Colleges (USA), Mount Alison University
Class: 2018

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