In a transition year for the Hays football program, senior dual-threat quarterback Xavier Martinez has emerged as a team leader and believes the Rebels are poised to make another run at the playoffs.
After making the playoffs last season for the first time in four years, Hays was handed a devastating 26-25 loss to San Antonio Reagan in the first round. Then head coach Neal La Hue retired in the offseason, resulting in Hays coaching search and the hire of new head football coach and athletic director Les Goad.
“Coach Goad, he is bringing the slot-t (offense) with him,” said Martinez. “So we’ve been transitioning from the spread offense to the slot-t. It’s a big change for us, but I think we can handle it. Coach is always talking about unity, and how this offense can only work if we gel as one unit.”
Martinez has been playing the game of football since a young age when his father introduced him to the sport. Martinez also played soccer, baseball and basketball at an early age, but his love for football increased as he began to play flag football in the 5th and 6th grade.
“I’ve always liked football,” Martinez said. “My dad and I would always throw the ball and I was always involved in sports. So it was just natural for me to just play in the 5th and 6th grade.”
A move from Austin to Buda in the 7th grade resulted in Martinez joining his first public school football team and playing quarterback, a position that Martinez said he has played his whole life.
“I enjoy the leadership role,” Martinez said about playing quarterback. “I think these past couple of years I’ve really grown and I’ve gained a lot more confidence in my abilities. I just like being in charge and I like the camaraderie with our team, we just bond. And being quarterback and being in charge is a lot of fun.”
Martinez said his father has been a big influence on his football career. Aside from his father, Martinez mentioned New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady as a player he enjoys watching and studying.
“I look up to Tom Brady,” Martinez said. “I really like his throwing motion. I really like his form, it’s perfect.”
Outside of playing football, Martinez mentioned his love for chess, which he learned in the 4th grade – thanks to his teacher and three months of lessons. Martinez cited chess grandmaster Bobby Fischer as another influence in his passion for chess.
“Aside from football, I really love playing chess,” said Martinez. “A lot of people make fun of me for that. I actually want to start a chess club at school. I didn’t get around to that this year, so I kind of hope to do that next year.”
Heading into the 2018 season, Martinez and his teammates are focusing on finishing games, due to the tough one point loss to San Antonio Reagan in the playoffs.
“In the weight room my teammate Aiden Fitzgerald is always telling me one point,” said Martinez. “We look at each other and look at the guys around us and we just say one point. That just keeps us going, because we don’t want to experience that loss again.”
Martinez said he has been working on his speed and strength in the weight room, and also is studying defenses in order to improve his game for his senior season.
“We want to go further,” Martinez said about the upcoming 2018 season. “We want to go to state. That’s the main goal.”