Opposing defenders, inclement weather and schedule mishaps all took their turns. None had success stopping Fairview wide receiver Sam Martin this season.
About the only thing that could prevent the 6-foot-3, 180-pounder from catching footballs was sleep, and rumor has it Martin was making picturesque, one-handed grabs in dreamland as well.
The ultimate amalgamation of height, hands, body control and speed, Martin has been chosen as the 2013 BoCoPreps.com football Player of the Year after a season in which he established Colorado’s two most prestigious receiving records — catches in a season and yards in a season.
He didn’t just break them. He shattered them to pieces. His 112 receptions easily surpassed Jefferson’s Sean Siemsen (102 catches in 1993), and his 1,860 yards obliterated the previous high of 1,567, set by D’Evelyn’s Matt Menard in 2011.
With Fairview’s storied history, it’s nearly impossible to choose the program’s best-ever athlete. But Martin certainly is in the conversation and a shoo-in for the top five.
“I think his numbers obviously back that up and support it, because he now holds two state records,” Fairview coach Tom McCartney said. “Catching 112 balls in one season is pretty remarkable, especially when everybody that plays us was double-covering him.”
Martin departs Fairview having topped the 100-yard receiving plateau 21 times, including in 12 of 13 games this season. The only exception was an 83-yard, two-TD performance against Douglas County in the second round of the playoffs. With the Huskies putting all their efforts on stopping Martin, quarterback Anders Hill rushed for more than 100 yards.
“I’m just so thankful and truly, truly blessed to have been a part of such a great team and program for the four years of my high school career,” Martin said. “It was the best coaching staff I could have asked for a really an amazing experience.”
Martin enjoyed the tight bond of his teammates as the Knights finished 12-1 and advanced to the Class 5A championship game at Sports Authority Field. The title-game loss to Valor Christian was the only blemish on an otherwise superb campaign.
While many record-setting players — nearly all, in fact — claim they didn’t peek at the numbers during the season, Martin’s honesty is refreshing.
“I’d check them every week,” he said. “I like to use that as a resource to push myself and bring out the best in me. It’d push me to aim higher and higher each week in the different games.”
Martin finished as one of four Colorado players ever to top the 3,000-yard plateau and one of two to surpass 200 receptions. He finished second to Grand Junction’s Ryan Lenderman (1986-89) in both categories. If the Knights hadn’t had a September contest against Rangeview wiped out because of the floods, Martin would have had a solid chance to surpass Lenderman in receiving yards and to crack 4,000 (he finished 69 yards shy of Lenderman, 169 shy of 4,000).
And make no mistake, Martin wasn’t accumulating his reception on dump-off passes and eight-yard hitches.
“Some people make the mistake that he’s a possession guy,” McCartney said. “But anyone we played, including Valor and including any great team this year or last year, he ran by whoever covered him. It didn’t matter if it was a Division-I player that’s going to play at the next level, he still ran by him.”
Speaking of Division I, that’s likely where Martin will end up. He is in the process of setting up an official visit to Rutgers and getting the ball rolling with a few other schools, including Eastern Washington.
“I’m just letting the process do its thing, controlling what I can control and letting the rest just fall into place,” Martin said.
While Fairview’s season in itself was brilliant, Martin’s efforts absolutely captured the attention of each his peers and the school’s administration.
“I’ve been playing with him since middle school and we’ve been good friends for awhile, so it’s kind of weird to think of him as this awesome athlete,” said Gabe Tierney, Martin’s teammate on the Fairview basketball team. “But throughout the season I watched him play, and he is an amazing athlete and just goes hard all the time.”
Martin moonlights for the basketball team as a scrappy forward who rebounds, collects loose balls and scores many of his points on put-backs and in transition.
“He’s got the energy of an all-state player,” Fairview athletic director and boys basketball coach Frank Lee said. “Players that we’ve had here that have been really successful, they have an energy that’s hard to describe and easy to see. Sam brings that to us.”
Martin certainly won’t go down as one of those awesome-athlete, poor-teammate type of guys. His encouraging demeanor with the team is part of what made him the consummate all-around player.
“He plays one of those fun positions that everyone gets to see right out in the open,” McCartney said. “There’s a lot of people who want to emulate him, and he’s done everything just the way a coach would want as far as being a team leader and being a captain.”
Even with the influx of passing in the high school ranks, Martin’s records seem safe for awhile. And even if they are broken, it will do nothing to diminish a sterling 2013 season and a splendid career.
“One of the things we talk about is that we want kids, when they leave the program, to leave it better than it was before they got here,” Lee said. “Sam has certainly done that in everything he’s done.”
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