Small Fish In A Big Pond: RJ Martinez Steps Up As Quarterback


Stephanie Shih

RJ Martinez ’21 passes the ball to an open wide receiver.

Stephanie Shih and Mary Miller

Quarterback RJ Martinez ‘21 has his work cut out for him. Moving from football-powerhouse Lake Travis High School to Westwood was a big transition, especially to be moved from freshman to varsity starting quarterback immediately.

“The speed of the game is definitely a lot faster, and I’d say you have to watch more film and take more time out of your day to get better,” Martinez said. “You can’t just sit around and do nothing you have to actually try, and do more than just work out. You gotta be mentally strong and physically as well.”

Coming in after spring football had already begun, Martinez had to quickly get up to speed on new plays to learn and new teammates to get to know. But he’s taking it all in stride.

“[I’ve] really just [got] be myself, you know? I feel that most of the guys will like me the way I am so if I can just be who I am, then I feel that that will carry on to them,” Martinez said. “As far as memorizing the plays, I think Coach Wood definitely is one of the best coaches that I’ve ever had, and what he brings to the table is a lot more than a lot of high school coaches out there, and he definitely prepares me for practice and knowing the plays and everything.”

Another struggle that can come with changing schools is the difference in academic pressure. However, Martinez applies the same positive attitude he uses in football in his adapting to Westwood’s rigorous curriculum.

“I’m doing the same thing that I did at my old school, just doing my work in the class and not slacking off,” Martinez said. “Definitely not procrastinating or being lazy. No matter if it’s one problem, you still gotta do it, so I definitely take time out of my day to do my homework.”

It can take years to build up the skills and smarts needed to be on a varsity-level team. Martinez got his early start through his dad, and his passion for the sport grew from there.

“My dad introduced it to me, he started coaching when I was little and I just played on the team,” Martinez said. “It was my dad’s kind of thing and then he brought me into it and then I started really liking it… and getting serious about it my fifth grade year where I really started to start training and realize that I need to become better.”

Martinez is completing his 10th year of football, and has held other positions elsewhere on the field during that time. His experiences as running back, linebacker, and safety have taught him many valuable skills that can be applied to his role as quarterback.

“Toughness. I mean, being a linebacker and an offensive guard, you are always [tough], and safety for that matter, you are always hitting somebody and always having contact so the harder the hit, you take hits all the time, so the more hits you take the more you get used to it. So, that helps with quarterback when the defensive end or linebacker comes to hit you, you just know how to get back up and then it just helps you more,” Martinez said.

In addition to football, Martinez has also played basketball and baseball, and has transferred what he’s learned from those sports onto the football field.

“Basketball helps you athletically-wise because you are always jumping and running, and you are always cutting both ways, and baseball really just helps you with your arm,” Martinez said. “I mean, you are always just throwing the ball and the more muscle memory you get the harder the ball comes and the more accurate it becomes too.”

Being the leader of the team, Martinez has many goals and aspirations for the Warriors and for himself.

“I have a couple goals. One, to not just make the playoffs but to go into the playoffs with a winning record,” Martinez said. “I want to go in undefeated, but definitely above 500. Number two, go further in the playoffs, not just the first round, you know, go past the first round and then make it as far as you can, and then third, I would say, definitely want to be first team All-District for sure, and then first team CenTex if I can be.”

Another personal goal of Martinez’s is to inspire youths to join football early on. He hopes to set an example for the current and future team.

“I’m really excited for how many kids will be more excited to play football based on our success, and I think as we win more and more the players will really want to step up their game even if they are the backup and they have to come in, they will really want to try because we are having such success, so that’s what I really look forward to, and making playoffs too, I really look forward to that,” Martinez said.

The Warriors face off against the East View Patriots on Aug. 31 for their first game of the season.