Martin feels warmth of team in prep for Spring practice, fall season

BLYTHEWOOD – Transitioning from one head football coach to another can be a difficult task. With James Martin at the helm of the Blythewood football since being named head coach April 4, The Bengals training rooms have been filled with support for a new head coach who isn’t exactly new.

“There’s a lot of excitement from the players, a lot of happiness and smiles, hugging and congratulating me,” Martin, the team’s former defensive coordinator, said. “Anytime that happens makes you feel good, and in the eyes of the players, you’re hoping that’s what they’re going to do.”

At that introductory — or re-introductory meeting after the Richland District Two school board approved the promotion — the team talked with Martin for about 30 minutes, asking questions. Then the Bengals, who went 10-2 and won their first region title since 2013 last season, went down to business and starting position meetings.

Martin, a USC-Aiken graduate, coached at South Aiken, Clover, South Mecklenburg, Northwestern, and Catawba Ridge before arriving at Blythewood. He’s served as head coach, defensive coordinator and offensive coordinator, among other jobs.

This is Martin’s third head coaching job. He had served as a defensive coordinator on two Northwestern state championship teams before being named interim head coach of the Trojans in 2017. He stayed with Northwestern until 2018, compiling a 9-9 record with the Trojans.

Martin’s first head coaching job was at South Mecklenburg in Charlotte from 2006-2011. He led the Sabres to the 2008 Class 4A semifinals.

Just before coming to Blythewood, Martin was an offensive assistant at Catawba Ridge. As the Bengals defensive coordinator last year, he led one of the top defenses in the state.

Blythewood’s defense gave up just 27 points in five Region 3-5A games and gave up 12.75 points per game for the year. The Bengals set a school record for sacks in a season.

A big reason for that sack total is rising senior Edward Robinson, whose individual school record of 25 sacks last year set the tone for the Bengals defense. Joining Robinson up front is Zarion Williams and Sterling Sanders

“Those guys will be very productive again, and you’ve got Trevon (Williams) coming back and Drayden Young in the secondary. Those are five true starters coming back on defense,” Martin said.

On offense, starting quarterback Harrison Collins returns, as well as the whole stable of running backs and several wide receivers returning. Keyshawn Phillips is back on the offensive line with Kevin Jones

“Those guys will lead the way, and we’ve got a great offensive line at the JV level,” Martin said. “We’ve got a strong group of players coming back, and we’re excited about where we’re going.”

Spring practice for the Bengals gets started in May.

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