East recevier leads way for Titans

Oct. 6, 2010 at 5:06 a.m.

Titans  wide receiver Steve Martinez returns the opening kickoff for an 80-yard touchdoown against Calallen.

Titans wide receiver Steve Martinez returns the opening kickoff for an 80-yard touchdoown against Calallen.

As Steve Martinez walked into the video room, his coach, Mickey Finley, razzed him about catching the ball in his facemask during games.

Was it true?

"Nah, that's just coach Finley," he said with a smile and a laugh. "He's just a hater."

Still, no matter how he comes down with it, there isn't much on any side of the ball that the receiver for Victoria East is missing. He leads the team in receiving with 17 receptions and is second behind Josh McClure with 289 yards. He's also tops among receivers with four touchdowns.

And on defense, he has three interceptions, one of which was returned for touchdown.

He also opened up the Titans' game against Calallen in stunning fashion, taking the opening kickoff 80 yards back for a touchdown.

But he's not taking any of the credit for it.

"It starts off with our line. They execute on blocking and then Ervin (Yates), he puts the passes on the money," he said.

The Titans offense has been one of the most successful in the area, and the cornerstone of Victoria East's success this year. The Titans, though, will be tested on the defensive side of the ball on Friday in front of a near-capacity crowd in their District 30-4A opener against Calhoun.

The key for the Titans success is through perfecting their scheme.

"We just go out there and practice, and repeat, repeat, repeat," Martinez said. "When we get into the game, we try to get close to perfect. Everybody has to do their job on every play."

But the skill of covering receivers might not factor in as much as tackling will for the Titans, or for Martinez. Calhoun's starting quarterback, Joseph Bargas, has thrown the ball a total of 17 times, while Calhoun relies on its running game, and particularly fullback Brandon Griffith, to get things done.

Martinez is new to the program this year, but not new to the sport. This is his third high school in three years, he said, and the atmosphere hasn't been entirely different at the places he's been.

"I played in varsity in Dallas before, and it's just like that," he said. "It's more fast paced, and I know there's a little more competition, which makes everyone better."

He spent his freshman and sophomore years living in Dallas before moving to Victoria for family reasons.

"This is where my mom's from, and it was time for a change from Dallas, so we came here," he said. "We have family here."

As he junior, he played wide receiver for St. Joseph, but outside circumstances forced a move to Victoria East.

"Tuition is killer," he said. "Me, my brother and my cousin, that was just too much. Plus, over here, it was a good opportunity. A fresh opportunity at a new school, that convinced me to move."

Martinez had a big game in the Titans only loss, to Calallen, three weeks ago.

"They were a top team, and we did good things on offense and defense, but there were bad things too," he said.

It's been important for the Titans to bounce back, Martinez said, and for them to maintain the momentum after their lone loss.

"It was big to bounce back that everyone that doubted us from one loss, you know," he said. "And to prove to ourselves that one loss isn't going to hurt us. It helped us get better and it helped us get stronger."



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