October 24, 2013

ATHLETE OF THE WEEK: Bringing the heart

Martin hopes to lead Caston to sectional win on Friday night

by Beau Wicker

— At 5-foot-7, 150 pounds, Conner Martin is not the biggest player on Caston’s football team, but he’s certainly one of the best.

“I’m the second smallest guy on the team. That’s never been a factor,” he said. “Really, it comes down to heart.”

Martin leads the Comets in yards from scrimmage (540), touchdowns (9) and 2-point conversions (6) this season.

The senior wingback has rushed for 434 yards on 83 carries for an average of 5.2 yards per attempt. He has 12 catches for 106 yards.

At inside linebacker he’s third on the team in tackles with 63, right behind Quentin Douglass (69) and Jake Kingery (64). Martin has 8 tackles for a loss which is second on the team behind Kingery’s 10.

“He’s certainly undersized but he plays with a big heart,” Caston coach Chris Ulerick said. “He’s a big part of the team. He’s a scrappy little guy that finds his way to the football a lot.”

The Comets enter the tournament just 2-7 after posting eight wins in three of the last four seasons.

“It hasn’t went as planned but we’re still having fun,” said Martin, a three-year varsity letterwinner. “We haven’t won the close games like Coach wants us to. We haven’t been able to put the nail in the coffin. We have a young team, too. We lost 14 seniors so we only have two or three players back that played varsity football last year.”

But Martin is confident for Friday night’s rematch against Tri-County (4-5). The Comets lost a 28-27 game to the Cavaliers last week in a game Martin rushed for 104 yards and two touchdowns. The Comets had a chance to win the game on both sides of the ball last week but came up empty.

The two teams square off again Friday night at the Crater.

“It’s going to go a lot better than it did before,” Martin said. “We’re doing different things on offense and focusing more on defense.”

The Comets got a good draw in the sectional. If they can get past the Cavaliers they would face the winner of South Newton (1-8) at Frontier (1-8) in a semifinal game.

The following is a question-and-answer session with Martin.

Q. Of the sports you play, which is your favorite? Why?

A. My favorite sport is golf. I say this because it is something I am good at and I can play it with my family, plus I can most likely golf for the rest of my life.

Q. How did you first get started in sports? At what age?

A. I first started playing sports in T-ball when I was 6.

Q. Do you have any family members who played sports?

A. Yes, my grandpa Phil Martin played basketball at Lewis Cass. My mom, Tricia Martin, played volleyball and cheered at Caston.

Q. Have you ever played a sport that you were not successful at?

A. Baseball.

Q. How do you feel you’ve improved as an athlete since you first started playing?

A. I have improved mentally and definitely physically by being in the weight room.

Q. Who do you consider your biggest role model? Why?

A. I try to emulate my grandpa Louie Herd because he is my role model and has taught me a lot about life. He is just a good man and I want to be like him.

Q. What experiences have you had in sports have made you the athlete you are today?

A. I’ve had success in the sports I play now which is what keeps me working hard and trying to up my potential.

Q. What is something that not everyone knows about you?

A. Not everybody knows that I used to be a male cheerleader for the Loganland All Stars and I can still do a perfect back handspring.

Q. What is your favorite memory of playing sports at your school?

A. My favorite memory in playing sports at Caston would have to be the junior high football practice that it started downpouring and we all played in the mud the rest of practice.

Q. What are your goals for your future? Do you plan on attending college?

A. My future goal is to go to UNOH [University of Northwestern Ohio] and hopefully open my own shop or farm.

Each week during the school year the Pharos-Tribune recognizes an athlete from one of five area high schools. The recipients are selected by each school’s athletic department.