Arlington Citizen-Journal

Young blockers fuel fast-paced Warriors offense

Martin senior quarterback Eric Walker hustles out of the pocket to avoid being sacked in nondistrict action agains. Allen.
Martin senior quarterback Eric Walker hustles out of the pocket to avoid being sacked in nondistrict action agains. Allen. Special to the Star-Telegram

Jacob Holland and Brayden Willis haven’t been on varsity for long, but the Martin sophomores are already up to speed on what makes the Warriors offense excel. Both play a major role in helping Martin set both a fast pace and a physical tone.

The numbers suggest the young blockers are doing their job well. Even with star running back Nic Smith sidelined by injury, Martin’s offense has pounded out 665 rushing yards in victories against Lamar and Sam Houston. The Warriors are looking to improve to 3-0 in 4-6A against Weatherford on Friday at UT Arlington’s Maverick Stadium.

“We are very physical and we just try to finish our blocks every time and give the running backs holes and give great pass protection to [quarterback Eric Walker],” said Holland, a starting tackle.

Walker, a senior, appreciates the extra time to operate and the running lanes that the O-line consistently provides. “I think we’re pretty well-balanced this year, and I think that’s definitely one of our strengths,” Walker said. “We can run it, we can throw it, we can do basically anything with all of our guys that we have, our O-line, and everything.”

The unit includes veterans like senior Leonard Bradley and first-year players like Holland. The line won’t overwhelm opponents with size. But that’s no problem, Walker said.

“I wouldn’t say we’re Trinity-sized, but we’re good enough size for an O-line,” Walker said.

What they lack in size, the Martin line seems to make up for in athleticism and stamina. The Warriors offense operates at a quick tempo — and their ability to keep up the pace starts with the team’s offseason efforts, especially the vigorous summer conditioning sessions.

“We take pride in our summer program, so we’re always trying to get better,” said Willis, a tight end. “So we’re playing at a great level right now. I think we can get better and our O-linemen do a great job of being aggressive.”

As tight end, Willis’ job is a combination of blocking like an O-lineman and running pass routes like a receiver.

“I pride myself in both,” Willis said. “I like to get off the ball and make plays as a receiver, but I also like to help my teammates in blocking and make sure my teammates are well taken care of.”

Willis’ teammates made sure he felt comfortable earlier this season when he took the field as a varsity player for the first time.

“When we were running out the tunnel, I kind of felt nervous,” Willis said. “But when we got out on the field, I felt comfortable. I knew everyone around me was going to help me out so I knew I was going to be good.”