By Aram Tolegian
Understanding the magnitude of the situation prior to last Friday’s second-round game between El Monte and Paraclete, Spirits coach Norm Dahlia volunteered the thought of stopping the game to Lions coach Joel Sanchez when/if quarterback Brandon Martinez became the official east San Gabriel Valley single-season record holder for most touchdown passes in a season.
That may not have come as much of a surprise were the game being played in the Valley, but it was played at Antelope Valley College. Nonetheless, Dahlia felt it was important to honor Martinez’s accomplishment.
So when Martinez passed both Pat Haden (Bishop Amat) and Felipe Aguilar (Los Altos) with his 43rd touchdown pass of the season, the game was stopped, the public address announcer told the fans what had just happened and Martinez was congratulated at midfield by both coaches and given a game ball.
“I thought that was awesome on his part,” Sanchez said of Dahlia’s gesture.
“I never thought of doing that just because it’s not bigger than the game, but he (Dahlia) said he thought it was important to recognize the young man and his accomplishment. He said it would be an honor if we’d let them do that.
“I didn’t tell anyone and it was more of a surprise. Brandon was like `What are we doing?’ and I told him `Just come over here really quick.”‘
Martinez later added another touchdown pass and the record now stands at 44. Martinez also is now the entire San Gabriel Valley’s all-time single-season passing yards record holder with 4,243 yards after passing Muir’s Richard Irvin on Friday night.
Unfortunately, Martinez won’t be able to add to either total because the Lions’ season came to an end with a 56-16 loss to the Spirits.
Martinez wasn’t the only Lion to set records on Friday. Receiver Abel Barajas caught his 18th touchdown pass of the season, which gave him the school record for touchdowns receptions in a season. The previous record holder was Ray McNeil (1979) with 17. Barajas is also the school’s all-time single-season and career receiving yardage leader.