The best move Coeur d’Alene senior running back Carlos Martinez has ever made or will ever have made hasn’t come on the football field.
It came the summer before his sophomore year when he moved from Utah to live with an uncle. He left a troubled past behind.
He’s all smiles about his future – both immediate and down the road.
The 5-foot-7, 158-pound Martinez has earned the starting job at running back in the Vikings’ one-back spread offense. The main reason he will take the bulk of the handoffs from returning 5A player of the year, Chad Chalich, is he’s the fastest player on the team. CdA coach Shawn Amos is hopeful that translates into several trips to the end zone from short and far.
Martinez doesn’t lack confidence when he talks about spending a lot of time in the end zone.
“If I can get an open hole I can take it all the way,” Martinez said.
It’s a confidence born out of redemption in many ways. He stays in contact with his mother and only knows that his father lives somewhere in California. He hasn’t talked to him in more than 10 years.
Martinez was in and out of trouble before his mom’s brother, Ricardo Bustillos, offered him a chance at turning his life around.
“I’m a completely different person than I was two years ago,” Martinez said. “I don’t think anybody would have liked who I was two years ago.”
Martinez spent much of this summer working in his uncle’s drywall business. It was enough to show him that he doesn’t want to lift drywall all his life.
“I want to be the first in my family to go to college and get a degree,” said Martinez, who carries a 3.4 grade-point average.
Martinez was deep on the depth chart at running back last year largely because workhorse Zach Keiser got most of the carries. So while Martinez was part of the Vikings’ state championship, he wants one that feel more like his own this year.
He knows he’s smaller than recent CdA running backs. But he plans to prove doubters wrong.
“As a team we’re going to look small,” Martinez said. “But we’re going to prove that big things come in small packages.”