Not often do you see many high school football players starting as a freshman but then again Branden Martin of Piper is not your average high school football player.
Only a junior, Martin has been a center piece in the Pirates defense since starting during the last half of his freshman season in 2017.
Last fall Martin put up video game numbers as a linebacker, leading all classes in Kansas with 159 tackles. His full defensive stats included four sacks, two forced fumbles two blocked field goals and 20 tackles for loss. As a result of his efforts, he brought home an abundance of awards including second-team All-Frontier league and All-State honors along with being named defensive player of the year for his team.
As a freshman he recorded 18 tackles, a sack, forced fumble and two tackles for loss.
Martin attributes some of his success on the gridiron due to his experience wrestling.
“I have been wrestling since I was 7,” stated Martin. “Wrestling really helps me become a better football player. I think it’s one of the hardest sports and just takes a lot of hard work to get good at it. I also play outside linebacker and tight end.”
He is no stranger to success on the mat as well as he is a two-time 4A wrestling State qualifier, Kaw Valley League Wrestling Champion and Frontier League Wrestling Champion.
In addition to athletics Martin is very strong in the class room with a 3.75 grade point average.
“My favorite subject would have to be World History,” he stated. “My Grandma has been a teacher for 40 years. She and my parents have taught me to always show up on time and listen to whatever the teacher says. My GPA is 3.75.”
For a junior, Martin possesses a very good stature standing at 6-foot-1 and weighing 195 pounds. He credits his work in the weight room as a factor of him being a force on the field.
“My physicality, and how I’m able to read plays as they are developing,” stated Martin. “I have worked very hard in the weight room this year to put on more muscle to add to my physicality.”
Coach Rick Pollard returns an impressive 14 starters along with Martin this fall from last year’s team that went 5-5. It is safe to say the Pirates have to be excited about returning that kind of experience. They do lose KSU signee Cooper Beebe, one of the better lineman in Kansas over the last few seasons, but he was also out for much of the year with injury last season.
Martin thinks the Pirates have the pieces when asked about being primed to make a state run.
“Absolutely, we just need to keep working.,” he said. “We have a lot of guys returning and are going into our second year in Coach Pollard’s system. We have been working hard all summer and expect to do great things this year.”
Martin wants to let people know the team has been giving its full effort and attention toward reaching its main goal.
“My team and I are working every single day, so that we will reach our goal in winning Piper a football state championship,” Martin stated.
Martin and the Pirates begin their treasure hunt for a state title on Friday, September 6th as they travel to Eudora, Kansas to take on the Eudora Cardinals.
Chet Kuplen, Founder/CEO of Sports in Kansas, on Martin
"I dont care what level you are playing at, 159 tackles is impressive. And to do it as a sophomore in the Frontier League is even more impressive. I'm looking forward to seeing more of him over the next two seasons as he tries to become one of the premier defenders in the Kansas City area. Never surprised to see a stud wrestler lead the state in tackles, seeing more and more of the sport translate to football it seems and vice versa. He will need to get stronger in the weight room over the next two seasons. He is all over the field and they return nine starters, so you should expect them to have a decent defense in 2019. I would also look out for LaJames White on the offense, he will be a playmaker for sure."
This feature is presented by Ringmaster Technologies. Best of luck to Branden Martin and the Pirates this season. See our ad in the right corner.
Q&A w/ Martin
How did you get involved in football?
I used to go to all of my older brother’s games when I was around 4 years old, so I fell in love with the sport at a real young age. I have been playing with a lot of the same guys since I was 5 years old.
What are your goals this season?
To help my team win a state football title, to improve my strength and speed and be recognized as a leader on the team.
Do you guys have a shot to make a run this year?
Absolutely, we just need to keep working. We have a lot of guys returning and are going into our second year in Coach Pollard’s system. We have been working hard all summer and expect to do great things this year.
What makes you such a force as a player?
My physicality, and how I’m able to read plays as they are developing. I have worked very hard in the weight room this year to put on more muscle to add to my physicality.
What’s the atmosphere like to play football on Friday night for your school and town?
We have great community support. We had over 250 people recently participate in our football fundraiser. Friday night is electric and really fun. The crowd always pumps me up.
For anyone that hasn’t seen one of your games, why come to one?
Our offense is very quick tempo and our defense is very physical. It makes for a fun style of football. It’s fast paced and hard hitting.
Who are other key players on your team?
Our defensive tackle Caleal Kennedy, Running Back Lajames White, Wide Receiver Malikhi Kennon, Offensive Linemen Andrew Jarvis, Outside Linebackers Anthony Ferguson and Darius McNeal, Defensive Back Brandon Snell, and Tight End Jack Robinson.
Favorite thing about football?
I love playing with my teammates and hitting people while making plays.
Do you play any other sports, tell us about that, what other positions do you play?
I have been wrestling since I was 7. Wrestling really helps me become a better football player. I think it’s one of the hardest sports and just takes a lot of hard work to get good at it. I also play outside linebacker and tight end.
What is it like to play for your coach?
Coach Pollard is extremely passionate about football. He pushes us hard and makes sure we understand we have to put in the work. He has really turned our program into a family that the community has rallied around.
What did you and the team do in the off-season to become better?
We have been in the weight room every week since Coach Pollard was hired. We also went to several team camps. My favorite was the Pitt State camp. We spent the week in the dorms and were doing football related activities for 5 or 6 hours a day. It was exhausting, but it made us improve as a team.
What interest are you seeing at the next level and what are your plans?
My dream since I was a little kid was to play college football. I plan on receiving a scholarship offer to play football at the next level and getting my degree there.
Favorite thing to do when you aren’t playing sports?
I like to hang out with my friends and family.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I see myself graduating from college and getting a job to set up the next stage in my life.
Favorite subject in school, what type of student are you, GPA?
My favorite subject would have to be World History.
My Grandma has been a teacher for 40 years. She and my parents have taught me to always show up on time and listen to whatever the teacher says. My GPA is 3.75.
Who is your role model?
My role models would have to be my parents, and my older brother. They’re the ones who are always there for me and push me no matter what.
Best place to eat in your town or the surrounding area?
No doubt, Danny’s Bar and Grill. They are a huge supporter of our program and have great food.
One thing the average person wouldn’t know about you?
I always mess around with my family by quoting movies. It gets on their nerves, and they get annoyed pretty quickly.
Anything else to add?
My team and I are working every single day, so that we will reach our goal in winning Piper a football state championship.