BY MATT JOCKS
HEMET Saturday mornings may be a little rough for Jeff Martin, but Friday nights? Just give him the ball and let him go to work.
Martin, Hemet High’s workhorse running back, has taken his play to a new level in Mountain Pass League play. On Friday, he rushed his way to 282 yards and five touchdowns as Hemet outlasted Hemet West Valley, 49-34.
Averaging 40 carries in Hemet’s three league games, Martin has carried the ball 338 times for 1,606 yards this season.
“As the season goes,” he said, “Saturdays can be tough. I’ve got this little monkey bump on my arm that makes it look like it’s broken, but I’ll be OK.”
Hemet (5-3, 1-2 in league) uses Martin as a battering ram, weakening defenses by the fourth quarter. That’s the way it played out Friday as Martin broke off scoring runs of 50 and 71 yards, finishing with 158 yards on 10 fourth-quarter carries.
The Bulldogs never trailed, but they needed almost all of Martin’s heavyduty work to stay a step or two ahead of a talented West Valley offense.
Countering Martin’s work, West Valley (1-7, 1-2) got big efforts from running back Nejon Burns (30 carries for 141 yards and three touchdowns) and receivers James Guilianno (seven catches, 130 yards, one touchdown) and Markus Cordova (five catches, 110 yards, one touchdown).
Hemet finished with 562 yards and West Valley gained 438.
The Bulldogs opened a 28-7 lead late in the first half but Burns cut the gap to 14 on a 2-yard run in the final minute of the half.
West Valley scored again on the first possession of the second half on an 18-yard pass from Lucas Opp to Cordova but Hemet’s Josiah Pinon blocked the conversion and the eightpoint deficit was as close as West Valley could get.