East High School will help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Super Bowl. High schools that have graduated a Super Bowl participant in the last 50 years will receive a gold-color leather football from the National Football League. Ira Matthews, a 1975 East High School graduate and member of the Oakland Raiders Super Bowl XV Championship Team, will present East High School with a gold football. He’ll talk with students at an assembly at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 10, in the auditorium. Matthews will present the football to former E-Rab coaches Jerry Stalcup and Gary Giardini.
Matthews was on East High School’s undefeated state champion football team in 1974. He averaged 8.3 yards per carry and gained 817 rushing yards that season. According to Rockford Register Star archives, Matthews had 24 catches for 425 yards and five touchdown receptions his senior year. He went on to become one of the country’s leading punt returners at the University of Wisconsin in 1978.
Matthews played for the Oakland Raiders from 1979-1981. He made the 1979 All-Pro team during his first season with the Raiders. He helped lead the team to win the 1980 Wild Card playoff, the 1981 AFC West Conference Championship and Super Bowl XV.
East administrators and staff have also invited 1975 East alumni and former NFL players Jerry Holloway, formerly of the St. Louis Cardinals; Russell Pope, who was drafted by the Detroit Lions; and Stuart Walker, formerly of the Atlanta Falcons. They were all members of East High School’s state championship football team in 1974. The team was in the inaugural Rockford Public Schools Hall of Fame class.
The former football players will be invited to talk with students about experiences at East, success after graduation and the NFL. They will also attend a meet-and-greet from 5:30-7 p.m. at Lino’s restaurant, 5611 E. State St., for pictures and autographs.
East High School was recently awarded a bronze medal from the U.S. News & World Report for the second consecutive year in its rankings of the Best High Schools.
More about the NFL’s Super Bowl High School Honor Roll: The NFL is sending a gold football to every high school that has produced a player or head coach who has appeared in a Super Bowl. The NFL estimates nearly 3,000 players and head coaches, and more than 2,000 high schools will be recognized.