By Aram Tolegian Staff Writer
The last time El Monte High School standout quarterback Brandon Martinez and Gladstone signal caller Kevin Amezquita were on the field together, they put on quite a show.
Perhaps the best show in the Valley last season. The game took place on Sept. 14. It was an epic that Gladstone won 68-66 in three overtimes. Both teams went on to complete their best seasons in decades.
On Friday, the pair will meet again as Martinez quarterbacks the West and Amezquita the East in the Hall of Fame All-Star Game at West Covina High.
Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.
“It was touchdown after touchdown, just back and forth,” Martinez said while looking back on last fall’s game against Gladstone. “I think Friday’s game can become that type of game. It could turn out to be the same thing all over again.”
If Friday’s game does become a shootout, fans will be the biggest beneficiaries. The talented playmakers don’t stop at Martinez with the West and Amezquita with the East. Both teams have ample talent from other schools. But at its core, a large component of Friday’s game is El Monte-Gladstone.
The West will be coached by Martinez’s coach at El Monte, Joels Sanchez.
The East is coached by Albert Sanchez, who coached Amezquita at Gladstone.
Both coaches also have several others players from their schools on their rosters.
So given the familiarity that both Martinez and Amezquita have with what their coaches want to do, Friday’s
game could bring a level of offensive comfort that leads to plenty of points.
“It could be a shootout instead of one of those boring games like 3-0 or 10-6,” East coach Albert Sanchez said. “I’m hoping we can both light up the scoreboard.”
El Monte had a big lead in last September’s game before Amezquita helped lead a thrilling comeback. Once in overtime, both quarterbacks continued to make big plays with both their arms and legs.
Gladstone took a 68-60 lead and El Monte came right back and scored. The Lions had to go for two and convert in order to keep going, but running back Bryan Luevano, who had five touchdowns in the game, was stopped a half-yard short of the goal line.
Martinez finished the game with 346 yards passing and two touchdowns. He also ran for 110 yards and two scores. Amezquita had 234 yards and three touchdowns passing while also rushing for 94 yards and a score.
Performances like that were commonplace for both quarterbacks last season.
The wins followed and each team produced the best season in school history.
Gladstone earned a share of the Montview League championship and won its first playoff game since the 1970s. El Monte won its first league title in over 20 years and also ended a long playoff drought.
Martinez went on to post one of the best single seasons in CIF-Southern Section history and was named Tribune Player of the Year. Amezquita, who rushed for over 1,600 yards and threw 18 touchdown passes, was named to the Tribune’s All-Area first team at quarterback.
Although last September’s game was long ago, bad memories still linger for Martinez, who said a part of him wants revenge.
“Amezquita got away with that one, I believe,” Martinez said. “We worked really hard for that one. That feeling when Amezquita won that game, it was harsh.
“It’s the Hall of Fame Game, it’s for everyone to have fun and play hard. But I still kind of have that chip on my shoulder after losing that game to Amezquita.”
By Aram Tolegian Staff Writer