High School Football: BC's Martin making his mark

Eric Lo got his first look at his football team Monday.

No, it wasn't his Huntington Beach High squad, which doesn't start its summer session until Monday. It was the South team that he will lead as head coach into the Brea Lions Club Orange County North/South Prep All-Star Charity Football Game.

The 55th edition of the annual summertime contest is July 10 at Orange Coast College.

At first glance on paper, the South roster looked to be stocked full of talent. On the field, Lo was impressed with what he saw at the first of seven South practice sessions to be held through July 9 at Huntington Beach High's Sheue Field.

"Man, this is a really good team," he said. "We've just got a bunch of guys who are good football players and who are excited to be playing in this game. This really is a good group of guys who I am happy to be around."

Ten players from four local schools (Huntington Beach, Edison, Fountain Valley and Brethren Christian) have made the South roster, and Lo was quite familiar with nine of those 10 who he either coached, or saw up close and personal, during the 2013 Sunset League season.

Quarterback Kai Ross, receivers Maurice Barber and Tucker deCamp and offensive lineman Evander Warren of Huntington Beach, offensive lineman Markus Boyer, defensive lineman David Siliuta and kicker/punter Hunter Kelley of Edison, defensive backs Jacob Church and Isaiah Davis of Fountain Valley, and Will Martin of Brethren Christian, will play for the South.

The only player Lo didn't see in live action during the 2013 season, was Martin, but the game film he watched of the Brethren Christian standout, garnered his admiration.

"Talk about a guy who is focused on playing football," Lo said of Martin. "He's physical, strong and a stout guy. "After seeing tape on him, I was sold.

"He'll have a little bit of transition for this game, as he's a defensive end but will be playing defensive tackle for us. He wants to do so well, and we told him, to just let the game come to him. He's really good, and he can play for anybody."

The game selection honor is just one of many attained this year by Martin, who had a decorated career at Brethren Christian.

A three-year varsity starter, Martin was named first-team All-Academy League both his senior and sophomore years, each instance landing the league's Lineman of the Year (co-lineman in 2011) award. He was second-team all-league as a junior. Also in his final season last fall, he was named first-team All-CIF (East Valley Division) as a defensive end, was second-team All-State (left tackle), and was named a National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete.

"The fact that he was named All-CIF at defensive end, and All-State at tackle, says a lot about his abilities," Brethren Christian football Coach Pat McInally said. "He's always been very good, but Will really became a complete football player this year. He came into the [2013] season in great shape and well-conditioned, and he went on to have a heck of a season. His hard work and preparation has really paid off."

Brethren Christian Athletic Director Jon Bahnsen said Martin is the first player in 20 years to be selected to play in the North/South All-Star Game. The last BC player in the game was Reggie Davis, who played in the 1994 contest. Davis, who went on to play for the University of Washington and then with the San Diego Chargers, currently is on the coaching staff (tight ends) with the San Francisco 49ers.

"This really is a big honor for me to be playing in this game," Martin said. "I feel really privileged. Coming from a small school, like I do, sometimes it's hard to get noticed. But I worked my butt off to get to this point of my career, and I'm really looking forward to this game.

"I don't know anybody else on this team, but I'm excited to see all this exceptional talent and play along side these guys. It's a great way to finish off my high school career."

The 6-foot-3, 247-pound Martin, gives the South plenty of firepower along the defensive line.

During his senior year, he registered a team-high 93 tackles, 17 of which resulted in negative yardage, and set a program record for sacks (17) in a single season.

A team captain for the Warriors, he set the single-season record for sacks with quarterback drops on consecutive plays in a regular-season finale victory last November against Lynwood Firebaugh. In BC's 35-17 Academy League win at Sage Hill in late-October, Martin's big performance resulted in 10 tackles, a pair of sacks, and knocked down a pass.

"I never came off the field, but I loved it," he said. "You definitely need to be in good condition to play that much, but I worked hard to stay ready. It was tiring at times, but it was worth it. I liked playing everywhere."

Perhaps Martin's biggest — and most unexpected thrill, of the 2013 season came during BC's Academy League opener Oct. 11 against Calvary Chapel Downey. Inserted as a returner for the second-half kickoff, Martin proceeded to run back the kick 77 yards to the end zone for a touchdown.

"What a moment to open the second half," McInally had said after the game. "He'll never forget that one."

Martin hasn't.

"Coach [McInally] and I made a bet that if I came in first [place] in sprints during practice, then he'd allow me to get in on offense," Martin recalled. "I thought I would get a touch or two at fullback, gain about four or five yards, and that would be it. But he asked me if I wanted to go in on the kickoff return team for the second half, and I jumped at the chance.

"I remember fielding the ball. I got around the edge and found a seam, and at that point, I thought I might go 30 or 40 yards, but the end zone just got closer and closer. I kind of had tunnel vision at that point and wanted to reach the end zone."

Martin's return took BC to a 41-0 lead in an eventual, 55-0 victory.

BC went on to turn in an 8-2 regular season which included a second-place league finish to St. Margaret's (the eventual CIF-SS East Valley Division champion) and return trip to the East Valley Division playoffs.

Martin, named the 2013-14 Male Athlete of the Year at Brethren Christian, will attend and plans to play football at Orange Coast College. While at OCC, he said he hopes to garner the attention, much the way his game film did for Lo, of four-year schools and continue his playing career.

"This will be my final high school game, then my next goal is to play this coming season at OCC," he said. "But for now, I'm just looking forward to playing in this All-Star game."

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