Cameron Martinez had what many would be happy to call a career day, yet his high school career has just begun.
The freshman stepped in at quarterback — one year after his brother, Christian, started at the same position for the Crusaders — and led Muskegon Catholic Central to its fourth-consecutive Division 8 state championship, 35-6, over first-time finals contender Ottawa Lake Whiteford.
Martinez ran 15 times for 154 yards, scored a touchdown on a 5-yard run in the third quarter and threw a pass to LaTommy Scott for a 25-yard touchdown.
“Anytime you have a running quarterback you have to defend 11, and so it’s just simple math sometimes,” MCC coach Steve Czerwon said about playing the youngster in the biggest game of his career to date. “I have a lot of confidence in him to make plays. He throws the ball well, but it gives you another dynamic for running.”
MCC (14-0) scored first when Logan Helton capped an 86-yard drive with a 5-yard run early in the second quarter. Caleb Muskovin then made the first of five extra-point kicks.
On the ensuing possession, Whiteford quarterback Thomas Eitniear made a couple cuts and streaked down the left sideline to complete an 81-yard run for a touchdown, but the PAT pass attempt failed to make it 7-6. Whiteford (13-1) never got any closer, and the Crusaders maintained their streak of never being behind on the scoreboard all season long, according to Czerwon.
“It was a hard-fought game,” Czerwon said. “That was a darn good team we played against today. They gave us a lot of trouble, especially in the first quarter. We had a lot of trouble getting (our defense) off the field and we thought that might be the case. But we stuck with the plan and we felt good at halftime.”
MCC scored four more times after making a few halftime adjustments. Helton scored on a 26-yard run before Martinez’s touchdown. Scott’s reception for a touchdown came early in the fourth before senior Walker Christoffersen made an 8-yard run to finish the scoring.
“These seniors, we protect them all the time,” Czerwon said. “We don’t have a JV program so we try to give reps to the younger guys. These seniors get shorted quite a few reps. I’m glad these guys got to play more of a four-quarter game their last game.”
Martinez said he felt ready to take on the role as an up-and-coming leader.
“Every time we made it (here) I was watching from the crowd, and I just couldn’t wait to put on the gold helmet,” he said. “I love this group of seniors and I’m going to miss them. I wanted to help get them a fourth-straight title.”