Juma Otoviano is not your average Arlington Martin quarterback. Then again, your average Martin quarterback is usually not average, either.
The four rushing touchdowns Otoviano scored while amassing roughly 250 yards of offense in a season-opening victory against Dallas Skyline attests to that. So do the 342 total yards and four total touchdowns in last week’s upset of Southlake Carroll.
But the real measure of his excellence is that he was chosen to take the helm of the offense for one of Tarrant County’s most successful Class 6A football programs. That is to say, to be a chosen a Martin quarterback suggests a player is anything but ordinary.
Otoviano, who spent the past two seasons at running back, joins elite company at the Martin quarterback position. Martin quarterbacks of the recent past include Kyle Hicks and Josh Watson. Hicks, now the starting running back at TCU, was named the Horned Frogs’ team MVP last season. Watson was a starting outfielder on the TCU baseball team’s 2016 and 2017 College World Series teams. Another former Martin QB, Eric Walker, was a starting pitcher for LSU as a freshman last season.
My team respects me. I was voted a captain. But I respect them just as much.
Martin quarterback Juma Otoviano
But those past examples of Martin signal-callers were not merely tremendous athletes. Something else was special about them.
“You’re talking about great leaders with great GPAs and great investment in the program,” said Martin coach Bob Wager.
Otoviano, whose father is from Sudan, fits that same mold, according to his coach.
“He’s not just one of our most talented players but trustworthy, intelligent, caring, invested in the program and another dozen or so adjectives that you can name,” Wager said. “He’s a two-time captain for us and he brings the talent but also the other qualities along with it. It was his first-ever start at quarterback [in Week 1] and it’s a lot to handle, and I thought he did a really nice job of not just knowing his responsibilities but understanding what all 11 guys are being asked to do.”
Otoviano understands what it means to be the signal-caller at Martin. “It truly is a badge of honor,” he said. “My team respects me. I was voted a captain. But I respect them just as much. It’s mutual.”
Warriors center Jacob Holland, who is tasked with snapping the ball to Otoviano and protecting him from the opposing pass rush, gained trust in the quarterback during spring practice. Otoviano quickly showed he had the requisite passing and decision-making skills and, more importantly, command of the huddle.
“He’s a big leader, too,” Holland, a senior, said. “He tells all of us to go when to go. It’s all coming together perfectly.”
Otoviano said he’s not trying to be perfect because the offense isn’t all about him. The Warriors, who lean heavily on the run but aren’t afraid to take aggressive shots in the passing game, have plenty of skilled receivers and runners to make the quarterback’s job easier.
“I’m excited to see what this season has to offer for us,” Otoviano said. “I’m going to lead these guys to whatever I can do: hopefully a win each week.”
If recent history for Martin quarterbacks is any indication, those wins will come in bunches.