LE GRAND – Ryan Martinez’s high school career has included playing in three Sac-Joaquin Section championship games and a state bowl game.
During his three years at the varsity level, Le Grand has compiled a 35-3 record.
“I don’t think many people can say they had four games like that in their high school career,” Martinez said.
Martinez helped lead the Bulldogs to a 13-0 record this year, including a fourth straight section title. The Le Grand senior rushed for 2,138 yards and 33 touchdowns.
The Southern League co-MVP is also the Sun-Star Football Player of the Year.
“I think what I’ll remember most is being on the field celebrating after the section titles,” Martinez said. “Taking group photos with the O-line, all the smiles after the game and hugging people you don’t even know.”
Martinez grew up in a football family. His father, Rick, is the Le Grand head coach. His older brother Ricky was a senior on the Bulldogs 2011 team that reached the state bowl game.
Growing up, Ryan couldn’t wait to get on the football field. His mom actually had to sign a waiver to allow him to play as a 7-year-old.
Ryan couldn’t wait to play for Le Grand.
Both his parents graduated from Le Grand with his dad later becoming the head coach. His uncle Aaron graduated from Le Grand. His older brother played at Le Grand.
“The Bulldog green is alive in my blood from both sides of my family,” Ryan said. “Everyone graduated from Le Grand.”
After winning a third straight section title last year, Rick had opportunities to go coach elsewhere. Jobs that offered more money.
Ryan made it clear, however, that where ever dad ended up, he was going to finish his high school career at Le Grand with his friends.
“He’s a pretty bright kid,” Rick said. “He said, ‘I know you’re going to be coaching for a lot longer than I’m playing. But everyone is a Bulldog in our family. How can you ask me not to be a Bulldog?’ It wasn’t him asking. He made a statement: I’m staying no matter what you do.”
There are definite benefits of being a coach’s son. Football always dominates the topic of conversation at home. There’s countless hours of breaking down film.
However, despite everything Ryan does on the field there are always going to be people who feel he’s getting preferential treatment because his dad is the coach.
“Le Grand is a small town,” Rick said. “There are going to be people who feel Ryan‘s success is because his dad is the coach. I’m a grown man. I can take it. You hate that he has to deal with it but he’s never taken it personally. He just takes it as part of being a son of a coach.”
“Having my dad as a coach means I have to work harder than anyone else,” he said. “He shows no discrimination between me and everybody else. When I’m out there I want to show I’ve earned my spot.”
Ryan doesn’t just excel on the football field. He also sports a 4.4 GPA and will be the valedictorian of his class.
“It’s meant a lot of late nights,” Ryan said. “I’ve had to manage my time between football and the classroom. I know both needed my full effort.”
In his three years, Ryan compiled 4,229 rushing yards and 58 touchdowns. He averaged just under 9 yards per carry during his career.
“All those yards belong to the offensive line as well,” he said.
In Le Grand’s biggest games, Ryan rose to the occasion. With the Southern League title on the line against Ripon Christian, he rushed for 280 yards and four touchdowns. He added 290 yards and four touchdowns in the Bulldogs two playoff wins.
In the end, it was Martinez and his teammates celebrating with yet another blue banner.
“It’s been a great ride, he said. “I have no complaints at all.”