If the Trojans ever forget their great run of back-to-back state soccer titles, they can remember one thing.
They’ll always have Paris.
Senior Paris Martins was the spark plug at forward for the two state championship teams and earns the nod as the 2013 Press-Citizen Boys Soccer Player of the Year.
Martins had a team-high 17 goals on the season.
The senior got used to being a marked man. A friend told him the Cedar Rapids Prairie pre-game marker board had “guard Paris Martin” as the game plan.
“If I started to get marked during the season, it made more West players open,” Martins said.
Martins learned to pass as well. He had six assists on the season.
“At some point he found he’d rather pass the ball and get the assist, than get four, five goals a game,” West coach Brad Stiles said. “He could’ve scored six to seven goals against some opponents.”
Martins said he learned to be a good passer from watching teammate Mueng Sunday — the Gatorade Player of the Year.
“Watching him pass is one of the most beautiful things in the world,” Martins said. “I watched him over the years and it made me a smarter passer. I tried my hardest to make my passes complete.”
Martins always had the speed to outrun defenders. He learned how to do other things on the field besides run by the defense and take a poke at the goal.
“He does have great vision,” Stiles said. “I had to encourage him to be less of a long-range passer, and to attack on the dribble.
“He had great assists this year where he picked his head up, split defenders from 30 yards out. I like that about his game.
“He can do everything. He finds a happy medium to use all of his abilities.”
More than his ability on the field, Martins found ways to be a leader.
“I had more responsibilities,” Martins said. “A senior is supposed to lead the team.”
Stiles said he could always count on Martins to keep things light.
“It’s all good,” Stiles said. “Paris is the type of player, he speaks what he feels. Sometimes he doesn’t know I’m standing behind him. It’s funny to hear some of the things coming out of his mouth.
“He’s never negative, but he pushes guys’ buttons. And they need that.”
When the Trojans are in danger of getting too serious, Martins crack wise.
“He’s a good barometer for the team,” Stiles said. “Paris will say, ‘Let’s do something else.’ It’s good to have those kids around.
“It’s good to have someone that knows me well. His fourth year on varsity, he has the courage to say those things to the coach.”
Martins was an offensive force as West High won back-to-back titles and four of the last five.
“It went too fast for me,” Martins said. “I had great teammates, and I freaking love those guys and had so much fun playing with them. I’m so glad we won state. I’m glad to leave West High like that.
Martins is going to Wartburg College to continue his soccer career. He knows things will be different at the next level.
At 5-foot-8 and 140 pounds, Martins is a bit undersized.
“I’ve gotten tougher as a player, but I’m facing more bigger guys now,” Martins said. “Hopefully, college will give me experience. I’m going to have to start working out a lot more and get bigger.
“College guys don’t mess around in the weight room.”