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Sylmar's Martin Is Difference

Valley Mission League: Versatile Spartan excels on offense and defense in 28-26 victory over Kennedy.


SYLMAR — Everything Kennedy High could do, Josh Martin could do better Friday night.

Catch passes. Bat down passes. Throw passes. Throw blocks. Make tackles. Make decisions.

Martin, a 6-foot-3, 225-pound Sylmar linebacker and tight end, was as nimble as a gymnast and as ferocious as, well, a linebacker and tight end.

And he was the difference in Sylmar's 28-26 Valley Mission League victory, an outcome that caused uncommon jubilation among the Spartans and their overflow crowd.

Kennedy shocked Sylmar twice last season--ending a 69-game league winning streak with the first victory and knocking the Spartans from the playoffs, 69-33, with the second. This was payback.

"This is so wonderful," Martin said. "Everybody did what they had to do."

Or more, as was the case with Martin.

He made two touchdown receptions to give Sylmar a 14-0 first-quarter lead, then made the game's key play after Kennedy crept to within 21-20 late in the third quarter.

Sylmar failed on a fumblerooski on the previous play, setting up third and 14 from midfield. Martin caught a pass behind the line of scrimmage, then heaved a long spiral down the middle that Felipe Samano caught in stride at the 10 and carried into the end zone.

Maybe Kennedy forgot that Martin, the most physically imposing player on the field, was a quarterback until last season.

"He can really throw the ball, can't he?" Coach Jeff Engilman said.

Kennedy (5-1-1, 1-1 in league play) answered quickly behind tailback Jerome Williams, who raced 47 yards on the next play and scored moments later on a 14-yard run to pull the Cougars to within 28-26. However, Williams, who had 153 yards and three touchdowns in 18 carries, was stopped on a two-point conversion run.

Martin, of course, was in the middle of the pile. He had 12 tackles, increasing his team-high total to 67.

The Cougars had one more chance after holding Sylmar on downs at their 16. Kennedy marched 58 yards to the Spartans' 26 with two minutes to play, but a personal foul brought the ball back to the 41 and the drive sputtered. Samano intercepted a long pass in the end zone on fourth down.

"This is the greatest feeling in the world," Samano said.

Early on, it appeared Sylmar would win easily. On Kennedy's first possession, Martin batted a pass in the air and defensive back Jason Adams intercepted it. John Valdez connected with Martin from 25 yards for a score two plays later.

Sylmar recovered an onside kick and promptly marched for another touchdown, this one a three-yard pass from Valdez to Martin. The Spartans nearly scored again before the quarter ended on a 48-yard run by fullback Isidro Medina, who had 110 yards in 14 carries.

But Medina was hauled down at the five and fumbled at the one two plays later. Kennedy finally got moving in the second quarter, scoring on a one-yard run by Williams to cap a 67-yard drive.

Sophomore Daniel Burney returned the ensuing kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown and a 21-7 Sylmar lead.

Kennedy pulled to within a touchdown on the second play of the third quarter, when Carl Mason returned a Valdez fumble 45 yards for a touchdown. The Cougars scored again with 5:41 to play in the third quarter on a 15-yard run by Williams, but the extra point kick was blocked by Napoleon Kimble.

"The defense stepped up when it had to," Engilman said. "This was a great victory for us."


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