Sports

James Burns: Martin breaks family tie, passes uncle on TD list

James Burns

Tick, tock.

Tick, tock.

Friday's football playoffs can't get here soon enough.

So...

To pass the time, what do you say we make sense of some of the chicken scratch in my notebook?

ITEM: What a weekend it was for the Los Banos football team, which clinched its first playoff berth in truly bizarre fashion on Friday night.

Lost in all the excitement going on around the county, though, were a couple of record-setting performances.

Los Banos wide receiver Rubal Sangha set new marks for single-season receiving touchdowns (20) and receiving yards (1,103), while the offense reached new ground for points scored in a season (360).

The neatest record of all, though, rests comfortably with the Martin family.

Junior quarterback Erik Martin passed his uncle James Martin in the history books for most touchdowns thrown in a season.

With his four scoring tosses Friday night, Martin now has 29 -- one better than Uncle Jimmy.

"I didn't even know about (the record) until they announced it," the younger Martin said.

"It's pretty cool, I guess, but the record won't mean anything if we don't win."

Regardless, it should make for some interesting banter this Thanksgiving.

One question: Who gets the big piece of pumpkin pie -- Erik or Uncle Jimmy?

ITEM: Speaking of big announcements, Friday's postgame drama in Los Banos just wouldn't have been the same without assistant coach Dustin Caropreso or announcer Michael Sanders.

I touched on their roles in Saturday's recap, but a thousand words just didn't do the scene justice.

Maybe a few more can.

Sanders came out onto the field after the game, wielding a wireless microphone -- like he was a sideline reporter or something.

Sanders provided a superb play-by-play for the hundreds who stuck around, relaying the news from Caropreso.

Ah, Caropreso -- now there's a character.

I'd love to see the cell charges he racked up that night. I hope he's got a good plan, because that phone didn't leave his ear for upwards of an hour.

Caropreso had a throng of supporters at his mercy -- and the sick part is he enjoyed every minute of it, too.

In the end, he delayed his final announcement just long enough to see his fellow assistant coaches twist and squirm.

He even had one assistant tied in knots. Literally. With his hands buried between his legs, Raven Keene screamed: "Please tell me Turlock kicked the field goal!?! Puh-leeze!"

ITEM: Switching gears, let's chat about another biggie on the football docket this weekend: Fresno State at San Jose State.

My how the tables have turned on the Bulldogs' season. Honestly, did you think this game would matter back in August when we were hashing out the Dogs' run at a Western Athletic Conference title?

Probably not.

Now the Bulldogs find themselves fighting to stay above water with two games to go -- with walking wounded, no less.

Fresno State made itself bowl eligible with last week's victory over New Mexico State, but there are no guarantees that we'll see these Dogs slugging it out come Christmas time.

The bowl selection process is like picking a kickball team -- it's a popularity contest.

Plain and simple.

And right now, at 6-4 and 3-3 in the WAC, Fresno State is looking like the kid with two left feet.

It ain't good, folks.

To build a serious case, the Bulldogs have to summon their summer form this Saturday against San Jose State -- a team also battling for one of the three bowls allotted to the WAC.

What's that mean?

Pat Hill's boys have got to play with the swagger and confidence that made us all believe they were contenders, and then hope they can keep 22 players standing upright for four quarters.

If they do that, they'll find themselves in a meaningful bowl.

If not, well...

The Toilet Bowl would be a fitting way to flush away a season as disappointing as this.

James Burns is a Sun-Star sports reporter. He can be reached at jburns@mercedsun-star.com.

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