NORTH HILLS — There is a lot that is different with the Bellarmine-Jefferson High football team this season.
Along with a new coach, the Guards have plenty of new faces on their roster and the team has opened up its offense and is running a spread.
However, with all that’s new there is still something that hasn’t changed with Bell-Jeff — the athletic ability of running back Josh Martinez.
In a nonleague game with host Monroe Friday that featured 100 points, copious amounts of offense and a frenzied pace, the Guards received a stellar performance from Martinez and were able to come on in the second half to earn a 65-35 victory in the season opener for both teams.
With a sophomore quarterback getting his first varsity start and struggling at times in the first half, it was Martinez, a senior, who was able to pick up the slack and power the Bell-Jeff offense.
“It was extremely important for us to come out and get that first win,” said Martinez, whose team went 3-7 last season. “To come out and score that many points is pretty incredible. We wanted to show everybody what we are about this year.
“I have confidence in my line and my whole team … they did amazing tonight.”
Martinez, who rushed for 785 yards last season, carried the ball 24 times against the Vikings, amassing 168 yards and scoring three touchdowns.
Both teams came out with torrid offenses in the first half, with Monroe pitting its pass-heavy attack against the Guards’ sustained running game. In the first two quarters, the Vikings had just 38 yards on the ground and sophomore quarterback Luis Dorame threw for 132 yards. In contrast, Bell-Jeff had only 17 yards through the air and 183 yards rushing.
That all added up to a 36-28 Bell-Jeff lead at the half.
The Guards had enjoyed a 22-6 advantage after one quarter until Monroe outscored them, 22-14, in the second.
However, the Guards came out inspired in the second half, scoring 22 unanswered points to take a 58-28 lead into the final stanza.
“We have been talking about getting on the field and getting that first win since January,” Bell-Jeff first-year Coach David Machuca said. “We won this game in the second half. We have a lot of young guys and really the sky’s the limit with this group. We just have to keep working.”
The Guards received a solid game from backup quarterback Mitch Kellogg, who scored three touchdowns on runs of one and two yards and a 16-yard reception.
Bell-Jeff starting quarterback Jonathan Porter completed just two of 10 passes and had no touchdowns in the first half. However, he settled down in the second half, throwing a pair of touchdown passes and ending with 140 yards. Along with the scoring throw to Kellogg, Porter also hit Jalen Henry on a 52-yard strike.
Dorame threw the ball 48 times and totaled 281 yards and three touchdowns.
The Guards also received a seven-yard touchdown run from Michael Gomez and free safety Noah DeCorsi returned an interception 15 yards for a score.