Originally published on Tuesday, December 11, 2012
• BUSES TO THE GAME: El Campo football booster club buses are taking sign ups for seats, which are $45 per person. For more information, call Suzanne at 979-541-9816.
• GAME TICKETS: $12 each at the gate at Cowboys Stadium or online at uiltexas.org/football/state.
• TV/WEBCAST INFORMATION: Available on Time Warner Cable's SportsChannel for those subscribers, and on the web at FoxSportsSouthwest.com. Check AdvoSports.com for more information later in the week.
Opposing defenses should count their blessings when they play El Campo.
The Ricebirds already use a brutal, pounding rushing attack on offense, but it could've been much more painful if senior Trey Martin stopped growing his sophomore year of high school.
Martin began his playing career at El Campo at fullback and linebacker as a freshman, but because he kept growing he was moved to the offensive and defensive lines where he has become one of the Ricebirds' best blockers.
"He's really a good blocker and finishes his blocks," El Campo head coach Bob Gillis said. "He's a nice kid, but on the field he's got a little bit of a nasty side to him which is what allows him to finish blocks."
It's that nasty side that would've made Martin a nightmare for defenses to stop as a fullback. Alas, he anchors the offensive line at the always-important left tackle position and it's a move that has worked out.
"My junior year I moved to the offensive and defensive line. I just kept growing in size," Martin said. "I like to protect our guys, make sure they get yards and score points."
The Ricebirds have been one of the most effective teams at running the ball, with three players rushing for more than 1,200 yards. Even when opposing teams know a run play is coming, El Campo usually gains positive yards. Martin has played a big role in that.
"Coach has taught us if we just come off the ball hard, we can get four yards every touch," Martin, who has committed to play for Rice University next season, said. "That's what we try to do every game."
That simple philosophy has led El Campo to a perfect 14-0 record and its first state championship game since 1967. Last week's victory over Carthage, which punched El Campo's ticket to Arlington this week, was one of the best moments of the season and gave Martin one of the best feelings he's ever had.
"The whole team was pumped up, and the crowd came out onto the field," Martin recalled. "It was just amazing."
Linemen don't have many statistics, but Martin was an important piece to the Ricebirds' comeback victory last week.
Defensively, he was there applying pressure when Carthage fumbled the ball inside its own 20 yard line and he was there when the Ricebirds stuffed the Bulldogs' fourth and three in the final minute of action. He has recorded 63 tackles (six for a loss) and six sacks on the season.
Offensively, Martin and the rest of the offensive line led the rushing attack to nearly 250 rushing yards and four touchdowns, including two in the final three and a half minutes of play and on the game-winning touchdown on fourth and goal from the 2-yard line.
Helping his running backs and quarterback get those extra yards is what Martin is best at.
"I just try to dominate my guy on every play," Martin said.
As one of the senior captains for the Ricebirds, Martin has been key in keeping his team focused on the task at hand and how they handle the new expectations thrust upon them this season.
This past spring, El Campo was dropped from Class 4A to Class 3A and what the coaches, players and fans expected of the Ricebirds this season grew substantially.
"Our expectations were obviously higher," Martin said. "Everyone thought we would go further than before, but we've just prepared like we would if we were still 4A."
Those expectations included an appearance in Cowboys Stadium on Dec. 14 and for a senior who has never played in a playoff game past the first round, this year's trip to the state title game means the world.
"It means a lot to me. It was one of our goals at the beginning of the year," Martin said calmly. "It's what we all want and we've reached our goal so far. Now, we just have to win it."