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Freshman QB helps spur Meadows’ spread offense

When The Meadows’ football team headed to Utah State this past summer for training camp, coach Frank DeSantis had designs on a run-heavy, single-back offense.

Then he saw freshman quarterback Gerard Martinez standing tall in the pocket, whipping the ball into tight spaces with his strong left arm.

“We came back from camp and just decided that we’d be better as a team if we ran the spread offense,” DeSantis said. “I just thought if we could go to that, we would spread the defense a little more and (Martinez) could get better looks at what he was supposed to read.”

Thirty-one Martinez touchdown passes later, it appears DeSantis made the right decision.

The Mustangs (9-2) have ridden Martinez’s breakout season to the Class 2A state semifinals, where they are the South’s top remaining seed and host Battle Mountain (9-2) at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Martinez, who has thrown for 1,717 yards with only 12 interceptions, didn’t know he’d play so well so quickly.

“Definitely, you have doubts,” he said. “You have to prove it to yourself that you can do it. But once you know you can do it, you know it’s your responsibility to play like you can.”

The Meadows, though, is hardly one-dimensional. Pat Kenny has rushed for 1,023 yards and 16 TDs, and nine players have caught TD passes.

“It’s exciting because (Martinez) is a freshman and he’s doing so awesome,” Mustangs lineman Brett Leibowitz said. “Our line’s doing well, our skill players. Everyone’s just doing their jobs right.”

The Mustangs eliminated defending state champion Needles (Calif.) 28-27 last week. That came after they won the regular-season meeting 41-0 on Oct. 24 to hand Needles its first Southern League loss since 2005.

“Especially because they’re the defending champs, it feels good and makes us feel like we’ve come far this year,” Martinez said of sweeping Needles. “I think it takes a lot of discipline to beat a team twice.”

The Meadows is gunning for its first state title since 2001, when it won its fifth straight 2A crown.

“Most of these kids, we’ve been playing together since middle school,” Leibowitz said. “We’re working well together. We all want it.”

In the other 2A semifinal, South No. 2 seed Mountain View (5-6) visits North No. 1 Pershing County (10-0).

In 3A, South No. 1 Moapa Valley (8-2) hosts North No. 2 Fernley (6-4) and South No. 2 Virgin Valley (9-2) visits North No. 1 Truckee (8-2).

In 1A, South No. 1 Pahranagat Valley (10-0) hosts North No. 2 Coleville (9-1) and South No. 2 Tonopah (7-3) visits North No. 1 Carlin (10-0).

All the games begin at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Contact reporter Tristan Aird at taird@ reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203.

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