The names and faces change, but the beat goes on in Mart, Texas.
In 2019, Mart’s Kevin Hoffman fielded a 25-player roster that included 14 sophomores, the most underclassmen he’d had to rely on in his head coaching career. But that young group coalesced beautifully, as Mart put together a 13-3 record on its way to the Class 2A Division II state championship, its third straight state title.
On Tuesday, Hoffman was honored as the Co-Coach of the Year on the Texas Sports Writers Association Class 2A All-State Football Team, sharing the award with Refugio’s Jason Herring, who led his team to a 16-0 record and the 2A Division I title.
“It’s so awesome. This is a team game, and we had a really good team top to bottom, seeing the way it all fell together was just awesome,” Hoffman said. “We’ve won due to great players and great coaches that I’m fortunate enough to work with.”
Mart is one of just five Central Texas programs ever to win three state titles in a row, along with Waco High (1925-27), Reicher (2007-09), Cameron Yoe (2012-14) and Bremond (2014-16). The Panthers will take aim at a fourth consecutive 2A crown in 2020.
In addition to Hoffman’s award, Mart had four players make first-team all-state – senior offensive tackle Chris Bledsoe, junior running back Roddrell Freeman, sophomore defensive lineman Ayden Lane and senior defensive back Kyler Martin.
“To have these guys get recognized as all-state players, we’re never going to have gaudy numbers as individuals in terms of yard-wise in our statistics,” Hoffman said. “We spread it around to different guys, so it’s difficult to put up gaudy numbers in our system. So for these guys to be all-state players makes me feel good that their hard work is being recognized.”
Bledsoe graded out at 95 percent blocking and delivered 20 pancake blocks for Mart’s rugged offense, helping clear the way for Freeman, who rushed for 2,143 yards and 39 touchdowns. Lane was a force on Mart’s overwhelming defensive line, making 109 tackles (38 solos) along with 13 sacks and eight fumble recoveries. When he wasn’t playing quarterback for the Panthers, Martin excelled in the defensive secondary, totaling 111 tackles, three interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
Bremond junior defensive lineman Hunter Wilganowski joined the Mart foursome as a first-team all-state player. Wilganowski had 151 tackles, two interceptions and four fumble recoveries.
Second-team all-state honorees from Central Texas included Bremond running back J.T. Anthony and Mart linebacker Tonny Sanchez. Third-team selections were Bruceville-Eddy running back Nathan Quattlebaum, Bremond defensive lineman J.D. McNutt, Crawford linebackers Jed Whitney and Trey Lacina, and Crawford defensive back Tate Abel.
Refugio quarterback Austin Ochoa won the 2A Offensive Player of the Year honor and Refugio linebacker Zavien Wills was the 2A Defensive Player of the Year. Ochoa passed for 3,004 yards and 30 touchdowns while adding 552 yards and 13 TDs on the ground. He’ll play baseball at UTSA. Wills tracked down ball carriers on his way to a staggering 215 tackles, 39 of them for losses. He beat out teammate Ysidro Mascorro (192 tackles, 48 TFLs) by one vote for the Player of the Year honor.