SAND HILLS — It’s often difficult to pick out Jacob Martinez on the football field even when he’s not wearing a camouflage jersey. He’s that blur of shoulder pads and wears No. 5 for those with not-so-great eyesight.
Martinez capped a successful career with flashy statistics in 2012. He rushed and passed for more than 1,000 yards in leading Bozeman’s offense that averaged 35 points per game. He joined Rutherford’s Dallas Davis and Mosley’s Zach Rhodes as top quarterbacks in Bay County last season.
But none accomplished what Martinez did as a senior. His stats, intangibles and leadership earned him The News Herald’s Offensive Player of the Year nod after he paced Bozeman to an 8-3 mark and a playoff berth.
Martinez was able to flourish in an offense with not only solid, but healthy compliments. His progress was stunted as a junior with key injuries to James Jernigan and Kris Kenney, which sapped depth and allowed defenses to key more on the 6-foot quarterback. Jernigan and Kenney were back this year and the addition of Jovani Bell, David Elmore and Tommy Cook as additional options helped loosen the reins around Martinez.
Martinez was second in the area with 1,181 yards passing and added 1,007 on the ground. He threw for 12 touchdowns, rushed for 17 and returned a kickoff and a punt for a score for 114 points to lead the area. He credited those around him for making him stand out.
“Our offense was wonderful this year, our offensive line did an outstanding job, they always had holes open for me,” Martinez said. “Our wide receivers were all good athletes, all could catch the ball, they made my job so much easier.”
Bozeman coach Loren Tillman echoed Martinez’s praise, saying he allowed the team to have success amid his lofty numbers.
“It helps knowing you have a playmaker every single snap on offense,” Tillman said. “Even when stuff broke down he showed he was a mature football player that can make a positive out of nothing.
“But he was really able to use the other people on the field. He didn’t have to have 100 yards rushing and 200 yards passing every Friday night, he did what the team needed to do to win.”
That much was evident in Bozeman’s biggest game of the season against Chipley Oct. 19. He rushed for 113 yards and passed for only 84, but he contributed three scores in the Bucks’ 49-14 victory that kept them alive for an eventual playoff berth. The majority of the damage came in the second quarter, when Bozeman took a 35-12 halftime lead.
“We really needed that win and they were a good football team,” Martinez said. “We had a good game plan, we gave it everything we had and as a team it was a big game for all of us.”
Martinez hopes to have many big games in the future, but on the collegiate level. He has entertained interest from FIU, Fordham and Northern Arizona, the latter a Football Championship Subdivision team that appears to have the inside track for Martinez’s services.
He said he would likely switch to a slot wide receiver/Wildcat formation quarterback at Northern Arizona. He said he didn’t mind where he played as long as he could contribute as he did at Bozeman. The two-year starter proved he could be a force with the Bucks and he hopes to remain an example for those who want to move on to the next level.
“When I was young I knew I wanted to be a great football player coming out of Bozeman and have the opportunity to play in college,” Martinez said. “I set examples for the younger kids.
“I did all the weight training, the running, I did track, I did everything I could. I kept my grades up and anyone can get what they want when they work.”