Meet Jonathan Martin, Culver's Star Quarterback
December 10, 2015
By Fred Altieri
With each season at Culver City High there's always a student/athlete who leaves an indelible mark on the playing field. Sophomore quarterback Jonathan Martin realized that standard as he played an integral part in the Centaur's successful 2015 football season.
Martin was named starting quarterback a few days before the season began. After a rough opening game against West Torrance High he quickly put his stamp on the team as it averaged 40 points per game for the next six.
Martin brought intelligence, a strong arm and track sprinting speed to become a force on offense. He led the Ocean League with a 105.4 QB rating, 1772 yards passing and 18 touchdowns thrown. He also rushed for 412 yards and six touchdowns.
Unfortunately his season came to an end when he suffered a knee injury in league play in mid-October. Despite the setback Martin is already preparing for next year's football and track seasons while he focuses on his studies in the classroom.
"The whole atmosphere is great at Culver City High. There are a lot of activities going on and a lot of new people to meet. I like the students, the teachers, the athletics and the clubs," said Martin.
"I'm interested in math and I'm taking algebra II. I also like English and European history. I try to prepare my time and use it wisely and do my homework whenever I have the chance."
Martin enjoyed early success at Culver High last season as the quarterback for an impressive 9-1 freshman team. This year's varsity team won the Ocean League title and made the playoffs riding the momentum created by Martin's leadership and execution.
"I've been playing football for about seven years. I played in youth football leagues. Last year I had a lot of fun winning with my freshmen teammates," he said.
" The coaching was very good. It prepared and taught me a lot. Coach (head coach Jahmal) Wright told me I was the team's starting quarterback the Wednesday before our first game this year. I was happy that I won the position with hard work but the pressure was that if I didn't play well I could get replaced.
"It was a little nerve-racking at first but once I got used to it I was fine. It was a great experience facing West Torrance for my first game. I played well but made some mistakes. Once I started completing passes, moving the ball and running a little bit I felt comfortable."
It didn't take long for the team to gel with the talent Martin had available to work with on offense. Senior running backs Fred Poindexter and Cahlil Hooper, receivers Mason Mulvihill, Kyle Johnson, Mekhi Ware, Devon Osborne and a resilient front line were prominent.
"It felt really great getting my first varsity win against Peninsula High in our second game of the season. We were already making progress. I thought we could build on that win," stated Martin.
"I felt the connection between myself and Mason right away. As the season progressed we felt more comfortable with each other and the same went for the other receivers.
"I faced a lot of man-coverage throughout the season. Once I saw that KJ (Kyle Johnson) was beating them deep on patterns I knew I had the defense and could reliably go to him.
"Fred (Poindexter) and Cahlil (Hooper) were great running backs, really the best running backs I've ever played with.
"It was really great when we didn't have to get up to the red zone to score touchdowns. We could score from anywhere on the field, whether it was from our own end zone or the middle of the field... big plays."
It was late in the third quarter against El Segundo High when Martin's season ended. "Unfortunately I got injured. It was kind of a freak accident. I'll rebound from it, move on, get better and come back. It will probably take six months for a full recovery before I can start training for football again."
The Centaur coaches also accelerated Martin's learning curve. "Both Coach Wright and Coach Reggie (Haynes) have really helped me make my reads faster," said Martin.
"Watching game films with Coach Wright has helped me learn from my mistakes, to see what I did wrong in my previous game and what to work on for my next game. We also watch game film of opponents we're going to face that week. I learn what they do and how to attack them.
"My quarterback coach is Reggie. He's helped me with my throwing mechanics, my footwork and the art of playing quarterback. Coach Reggie has taught me how to communicate better and project my voice when I'm calling plays."
Martin also excelled in track last spring. He ran the 4x100m relay, 4x400m relay, 300m hurdles, 100m hurdles and the 400m individual events for the school's frosh/soph team. He joined the varsity's 4x400m relay team for the 2015 CIF Prelims.
"The 400m race is my main event but I like to do hurdles, too. The speed work in track definitely helps me on the football field. Hurdling has helped me because it takes a lot of strength to get over the hurdles while still running fast. It helps me break tackles and run away from players."
Martin on leadership: "I feel like the other players accepted my leadership role. As the season progressed my leadership skills grew, being able to do the right thing for the team, getting them in the right position to do their best to help the team. The team responded by doing everything they could to get the wins we did."
And family: "My family had always been there, supporting me, coming to my games, helping me be a better person. My father played athletics in high school, watched football and other sports with me and helped me learn about them. Football and track became my main sports and I've been doing them ever since.
"I'm using football and track to help me get into college and do well. Eventually, if I can make it into the NFL or run professional track I will pursue it. But I mainly want to get into college.
"I'm studying to get the best grades that I can. I want to do well in college and if I'm not able to continue with football I'd like to pursue a career in production with a company like Sony here in Culver City."
Martin concluded: "I'll try to do all I can to help the football team get better, win the CIF Championship and try to break records. But mostly to do all I can to help the team and program succeed.
"The people around me at Culver City High have helped me become a better person and a better football player. It has a great atmosphere that has helped me succeed."