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‘Hurricane Matt’ leads area football stars on Arena Football League rosters

Wheaton's Matt Rahn is hoping for a successful season in the Arena Football League this year. (submitted photo)

Wheaton's Matt Rahn is hoping for a successful season in the Arena Football League this year. (submitted photo)

For many football stars, making it to the National Football League is the ultimate goal and making it to the Arena Football League is just a consolation prize.
But for former Wheaton North High School and College of DuPage lineman Matthew Rahn, a.k.a. Hurricane Matt, an invitation to play with the Cleveland Gladiators this season fulfilled a dream he has been chasing for awhile. He is 30 years old and has played in several indoor leagues and was a player-coach in Brazil for the past two years.
Now he is hoping to star at one more level.
“It’s been my goal to make it to the AFL,” Rahn said. “Anyone playing football who says they don’t have a goal to eventually play in the NFL is straight-up lying. Of course I would love to go to the NFL. But then again, there are not too many 30-year-old rookies around in the NFL. I’m kind of accepting the fact this might be the last year playing in the United States for me.”
Rahn thinks he could play for many years in Brazil. He has been a member of the Cuiaba Arsenal, which won a national championship in 2010 and finished second in 2011. He said the talent level there has potential and he is trying to get some high school-aged Brazilians American college scholarships.
He said some of the bigger games can draw as much as 10,000 fans to the games in Brazil and he has become a celebrity in his community.
“Most people know I’m playing football there,” he said. “I played in a big town in a country area. There are not going to be many blonde-haired, blue-eyed Americans there.”
Meanwhile, in America, he has concerns over the future of junior college football. He said COD helped him earn a scholarship to Hastings College in Nebraska. He was also an offensive line coach for Harper College in Palatine, which recently announced it is giving up football.
COD is the last junior college in Illinois to offer football and its future is unclear. Rahn said that since Illinois school do not offer scholarships for football and schools in Iowa do, some of the best talent at that level flee to that state.
“I’m a huge supporter of junior college football,” he said. “It’s tough. But COD has a great coaching staff, some have been around for decades. If there is a program that can make it without giving scholarships, it’s definitely that program.”
The AFL has a handful of other TribLocal athletes and coaches getting ready for the 2012 campaign, which begins in March.
Local talent

The Chicago Rush features Elk Grove resident Russ Michna, a veteran quarterback who played at Conant. Former Glenbard East lineman Derek Walker, former Willowbrook High School lineman Derek Walker and former Sandburg High School kicker Mike Salerno are also on the roster.
The Rush is coached by former Immaculate Conception High School and COD and Benedictine University standout Bob McMillen and is assisted by Plainfield resident Titcus Pettigrew.
The Milwaukee Mustangs feature former Schaumburg lineman Nick Torresso and former Warren receiver A.J. Kegg.

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