Defensive player of the year is Mr. Nice guy–except on the field

Alex Paul

Brandon Martin may well be the nicest young man at Sweet Home High School yet one of the meanest defensive football players in the state of Oregon.

Martin, a senior, sports a perpetual smile and a happy-go-lucky attitude except when he’s on the football field.

It is there that this multi-sport athlete says the fun in life really begins–tackling wanna-be runners trying to steal a slice of Husky yardage.

That aggressive attitude earned Martin the Defensive Player of the Year Award from the Oregonian from among all 3A schools. It was icing on cake for a stellar career made even sweeter by the recognition of seven other teammates to various all state teams.

“I love to hit, that’s where it’s at,” the son of Mitch and Lisa Martin said without hesitation. “And there’s nothing like high school football. You can smell it in the air on Friday night. You sense it when you walk to the field. You can feel the crowd’s excitement grow when you make a really good hit.”

It was basketball that first enticed Martin into athletics.

“Basketball was my first love…I went to a couple Blazer games and thought I was the best,” Martin laughed when talking about fifth grade.

Claustrophobic as a youngster, Martin said it was friends of his parents who swayed him to the football field.

“I didn’t like being held down, so I didn’t think I would like football at all,” he said. “Now, it’s my favorite sport.”

Martin was a power house for Coach Rob Younger’s Huskies this season, helping them roll into the state semi-finals where they lost to eventual state champion Wilsonville.

An award-winning lineman from last year’s team, Martin moved to linebacker this season and possessed a ferocity that made his presence felt at all times defensively.

But, Martin was also an potent part of the offensive game alongside fleet running back Travis Smith.

From his fullback slot, Martin carried the ball 74 times for 495 yards, averaging 6.7 yards per carry and scoring three touchdowns. He scored 24 points for the Huskies but was especially talented in hammering opposing players attempting to snag Husky runners.

“Football is a controlled fight,” Martin says, quoting Coach Dustin Nichol. “I’m a little ornery on the field, people think I’m mean, but I’m really not. I’m really a nice guy. I just love to play the game. I like to hit guys so hard you don’t even feel it, kind of like hitting the perfect home run.”

Martin said he worked hard last summer with weight training to keep his weight below 220 to make the transition from the line to linebacker and fullback smooth.

“I also had a goal of not fumbling, which I met,” he said.

Although it was Wilsonville that defeated the Huskies in the opening and ending games of the season, Martin said wins over Scappoose and Estacada en route to the semi-finals were the most memorable for him.

“We gave up 14 points to Scappoose but that was a terrific high school football game. It was well-played by both teams,” Martin said.

Martin said he enjoyed this year’s team because all of the Huskies got along well and had a common goal.

“We worked hard but we really liked what we were doing,” he said. “I’m definitely going to miss playing at Husky Field next year.”

Martin’s hard work has paid off with numerous awards. As a junior he was named first team all league guard and linebacker, he was the team’s defensive player of the year, was second team all state as a guard and third team all state linebacker and was lineman of the year for the Capital Conference.

This season, in addition to being the 3A defensive player of the year, he was first team all league linebacker, second team all league running back, was named defensive player of the year for the capital conference and was first team all state as a linebacker.

Martin’s athletic abilities run far beyond the football field. Just as he works both sides of the football, Martin led the Capital Conference last season in baseball with the lowest earned run average of all pitchers (1.45).

Coach Dan Tow’s hurler also knows how to punish opposing pitchers, knocking the leather off the ball six times for home runs and batting .405 overall last season.

Martin also wrestles for Coach Steve Thorpe but is missing the first few weeks of the season due to cartilage damage in his left hand, suffered during the Wilsonville state playoff game.

He’s no slouch in the classroom either, with a 3.65 grade point average, membership in the National Honor Society and leadership class.

After high school in a few short months, Martin says he plans to work at “walking on” at Oregon State University.

At 5’11 he knows he’s small for an inside linebacker but said he plans to shoot for an outside linebacker spot.

No matter what happens, it’s a sure bet that Martin will sport a huge smile throughout the journey.