St. Joe Prep’s Unsung Hero Chris Martin
By Joseph Santoliquito
Philadelphia, PA (CBS) — There’s going to be another quarterback playing in the huge Catholic League Class AAAA showdown Friday at 7 p.m. when La Salle hosts arch rival St. Joe’s Prep at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School.
While most eyes will be on highly touted La Salle junior quarterback Kyle Shurmur, the Prep’s Chris Martin will quietly go about his business, driving the Hawks up the field as he usually does, seeing the field in a slow-moving way and making it absolutely frustrating for the Explorers’ defense to stop him.
Martin doesn’t have those glitzy, robust numbers that will bowl anyone over. The 5-foot-10, 190-pound senior is 55-for-83, for 698 yards with seven touchdowns with 1 interception, according to TedSilary.com. Above everything else, though, Martin just wins. In his two years as a starter, he’s directed the Hawks to a 14-2 overall record.
“Chris accepts his limitations and understands what he does well and what he doesn’t do well; he understands our offense better than anyone,” Hawks’ coach Gabe Infante said. “Chris is a real heady player and he knows what we want to accomplish. He’s poised. That’s probably the best thing I can say about him. I’m a pain in the ass at practice, I really am. I have 8,000 things I’ll throw at him, and nothing rattles Chris. It’s not in his personality to get rattled. He’s very even keeled. I’ve seen him get fired up, but overall, he’s very consistent. He’s the perfect guy to run our offense. We are asking Chris to do more. He’s a weapon.”
Martin has found himself in this position almost by happenstance. He never quarterbacked until high school—and that really didn’t evolve until one time his freshman year during the halftime of a varsity game, Martin was throwing passes to then Prep freshman coach Steve Wagner. He did spot duty in the wildcat freshman year and was the Prep’s starting junior varsity quarterback by his sophomore season.
“I remember Coach Wagner liked my arm,” recalled Martin, an all-Catholic League third baseman for Preps’ baseball team. “I always knew I could throw from baseball, and my dad always suggested I try quarterback. I didn’t think I could take a snap under center because I was afraid of fumbling. This isn’t where I thought I would be freshman year.”
He is now.
His diligence toward improving includes staying an extra hour after Wednesday practices to go over protection schemes with the Hawks’ offensive line coach. Martin wants to erase the 28-27 loss to La Salle in last year’s Catholic League playoffs that ousted the Hawks from the state playoffs.
Martin remembers that game well. There are some plays he would like to have back and he’s looking to remedy that year long wait Friday night.
“I could have played better in the playoff game against La Salle last year; we all felt pretty confident going into that game,” Martin said. “I think I learned there were definitely some run plays I could have checked out of and made better decisions with the ball. I could have managed the offense a lot better. We thought there were opportunities to take shots down field, which we did. But there were times when we could have extended drives. I feel more in control of the game.”
There’s going to be another quarterback on the field Friday night.
Joseph Santoliquito is a contributing sports blogger to CBS Philly.