The first pass of Matt Bodamer’s varsity football career was an incompletion.
The second, with 29 seconds left in the first half of the 2009 season opener against Curwensville, was a 60-yard touchdown bomb from the freshman to starting quarterback Camrin Stuckey.
The Port Allegany signalcaller hasn’t slowed down since, taking over as the starter the following week and piling up yardage and touchdowns while piloting the Gators to four consecutive playoff appearances. After shattering Kyle Smith’s PIAA record for career touchdown passes three weeks ago in Sheffield, Bodamer topped Derek Buganza’s mileage mark against the Brockway quarterback’s former team on Saturday afternoon while continuing to push his touchdown total further out of reach.
Following the PA announcement by Brad Bova to mark the milestone, Port coach Mike Bodamer tossed the keepsake football to his son, who made his way into the bleachers to trade it for a hug from his mother, Judy, as the hometown crowd cheered.
“I was happy that I got to go up in the stands and give it to my mom, because she does so much for me,” Matt said after the Gators’ 55-20 victory over the previously unbeaten Rovers. “It was pretty cool that once again, everyone kind of stopped to recognize. It was definitely cool that we were at home, and that we had more of a crowd.”
Bodamer now has 9,787 yards and 126 touchdown passes – numbers that neither Pro Football Hall of Famers like Unitas, Namath, Montana, Marino and Kelly nor current NFL stars Matt Schaub and Matt Ryan approached during their days on Pennsylvania’s high school fields – and is a mere 213 yards from becoming the first quarterback in PIAA history to hit the 10,000-yard mark.
But as any quarterback knows, he needs an offensive line to block for him and receivers who can catch the ball, and Port has had its share of good ones during his tenure. Fourteen different players have grabbed touchdown passes from Bodamer, led by this year’s combo of Tyce Miller (District 9-record 33) and Nick Conway (23), with Stuckey (17), Charlie Buchanan (16), Trevor Neal and Ricky Bova (10 each) also snaring double-digit scoring throws.
“I’ll always give a shoutout to the team, because they do just as much as I do,” Bodamer said.
His thoughts on getting both a big win and the record in the same afternoon?
“It was pretty amazing.”