By CONOR NICHOLL
HOISINGTON – The Pratt football team met in the end zone after a 37-13 win at Hoisington on Sept. 30.
Senior Johnny Martinez displayed his versatility in the win. He tossed a 53-yard touchdown off a halfback pass, a play Pratt installed a few days prior. Martinez rushed 12 times for 86 yards.
Martinez changed the game defensively early in the second half when he chased down speedy junior Hoisington running back Mason Alderdice inside Pratt territory. Martinez forced and recovered the fumble. The Greenbacks, up seven points when the turnover occurred, held Hoisington scoreless after intermission.
“A great example of not giving up on a play, and making a huge, huge play,” Pratt coach Brent Hoelting said.
Afterward, Martinez sat in the Hoisington end zone, a few feet away from his teammates. He started the process of taking off the multiple layers of tape, black brace and sock that protects his left foot and ankle. Martinez said the taping process takes a “good 20 minutes” in pregame. Assistant coach Larry Eisenhauer performs the work.
“I love that guy taping,” Martinez said.
Martinez wore a big smile and exuded joy as he reflected on the game and season. A two-time 3A state powerlifting champion, Martinez earned recognition last fall in Pratt’s turnaround 6-3 year.
“He is one of the better players in the state,” Hoelting said.
Pratt held a Saturday practice a week before the year started. Martinez jumped up and landed wrong. He tore a pair of ligaments, one in the front and back. It’s bothered Martinez ever since; he labeled the injury “terrible pain.”
“Wrap it up with a bunch of tape, ibuprofen, call it good,” he said.
This season, Martinez has helped Pratt significantly improve its passing offense en route to a 6-1 start. The Greenbacks are 2-1 in Class 3A District 7. On Friday, Pratt faces No. 1 Andale (7-0, 3-0). The No. 1 Indians are on a state-best 45-game winning streak.
“I just love playing out here with my friends,” Martinez said.
In ’19-20, Pratt rebuilt after a large graduating class and won a combined five games. Last season, the Greenbacks switched to the single wing and doubled their win total to 6-3. Pratt finished third in 3A with 40.6 points a game.
Martinez was Pratt’s top receiver with 10 catches for 173 yards and two scores. Pratt threw for 558 yards. The Greenbacks averaged 7.4 yards per play and ran the ball on 85 percent of snaps.
This season, Pratt looked to throw more frequently. The Greenbacks are up to 42.1 points a contest. Pratt has significantly exceeded its passing numbers from 2021 behind its two quarterbacks: senior Carson Hoeme and junior Max Younie. Overall, Pratt has 33 of 71 passing for 792 yards with 13 scores and seven scores.
“It’s been really good, Carson is a great quarterback, and so is Max,” senior lineman Easton Rector said. “They can both hit a target anywhere, and we have got some great receivers.”
Pratt has averaged 8.0 yards per play and still delivered 244 rushing yards a contest. Pratt has run on 77 percent of snaps.
The explosiveness was highlighted in the road win on Hoisington’s Homecoming. The Cardinals are currently 5-2 and will likely win 2A, District 7. Hoisington has allowed 33 total points in its six non-Pratt games this fall.
“They force so many guys to commit to the run, and it’s hard to be sound defensively against them, and obviously we weren’t,” Hoisington coach Zach Baird said. “I mean, they could have thrown it more if they wanted to or ran it on us. They just did a better job coaching. They did a better job playing and beat us in every aspect of the game.”
Martinez is a standout multi-purpose threat with 53 rushes for 441 yards and four scores. He has eight catches for 161 yards and four TDs. Martinez has 18 returns for 392 yards and a score. He is third in Kansas in 11-man return yards, per MaxPreps. Martinez has a Bethel College offer.
“It’s awesome,” Rector said. “He’s a tough kid. Heck of a player. Great kid to be around. He really brings up the team.”
Pratt monitors Martinez on a weekly basis and tries to lighten his workload. Martinez continues to play through the injury and told the doctors he was not getting surgery. Martinez tells the Pratt coaches the pain will occur for 30 seconds, and then he’s fine. Hoelting called him a “tough, tough kid.”
“He deserves everything that comes to him, because he has worked for it, and really proud of him and the season that he is having,” Hoelting said.
Younie has 10 rushing TDs, Hoeme with five. They have combined for 985 rushing yards.
Senior offensive lineman Drake Van Scoyoc and Rector have paced the line. Rector, who has also fought through injury, was a highlighted player on SIK’s annual All-Underrated Team last week. Seniors Justus Tatro and J’air Johnson have combined for five touchdown receptions on 12 catches.
“They have worked really hard in the weight room, worked really hard on their speed,” Hoelting said. “And they have worked really hard on their route running, so we tried to do some things to open them up a little bit more, and our quarterbacks have done a good job of reading the field and executing what we ask them to do.”
Senior Kerel Thompson leads the defense with 56 tackles, while Rector has 50 and a team-high seven for loss. Johnson has 48 tackles, six for loss. Senior kicker Adrian Juarez has emerged as a terrific specialist. Inexperienced at the position, Juarez has 23 touchbacks, 15 of 16 on extra points and two of two on field goals. Juarez kicked a season-long 42-yarder against Hoisington.
“J’air has been an insane football player,” Martinez said. “He is always so positive. He is always willing to go out and be the best one out there. He’s a leader on the team. I would say he’s one of the biggest leaders, always wanting to make people better.”
Soon after Martinez’s big defensive play, Pratt found sophomore Taye Wilson on a 45-yard touchdown catch. The score remains Wilson’s lone career touchdown. Hoelting said Wilson is a “great route runner” and had dislocated his finger earlier in the contest. Additionally, Wilson is a standout wrestler and posted a 30-14 mark and sixth place finish in Class 4A at 132 pounds as a freshman.
“He came over and his finger was pointing sideways,” Hoelting said. “He dislocated his finger in half, and it was about an L shape. He said, ‘Hey, put it back in,’ taped it up, ‘I am ready to go, let’s go back in the game.’”
After 10-plus minutes in the end zone, Martinez was still going through his layers of tape and sock. Still, he wore a big smile. Several times, Martinez noted how much joy he had getting to play with his friends in a successful season.
“It’s going to be sore in the morning,” Martinez said. “I won’t be able to walk for about 30 minutes, because it will be so tight, but we will get through it.”