In mid-December, Kansas Pregame contacted 6-Man football coaches in an effort to name a second annual Top 6 team of seniors for 6-Man football in Kansas.
This is the third of six individual player profiles highlighting the Top 6 selections released in no particular order:
Kayden Martinez, RB/LB, 5-10, 220, Natoma
Natoma’s Kayden Martinez was borderline unstoppable during the team’s 9-0 run to a Wild West Bowl championship. The senior helped the Tigers score over 50 points in each matchup, minus week six against Cheylin when they were held to 40.
Utilizing his powerful 5-10, 220 pound frame, Martinez averaged an impressive 16 yards per carry on the season, carrying the ball 106 times for 1,697 yards and 37 touchdowns, and also added 450 passing yards with five more scores with his arm. A combination of power and speed makes the talented ball carrier a nightmare to take down.
“Kayden Martinez makes teams specifically prepare for him at the running back position,” head coach Tyler Masters said. “He's in the forefront of every coach's and opposing player's mind, ‘How are we going to stop this kid?’ He has the presence of mind to be patient for blocks to develop, and cuts up the field like you wouldn't believe. His determination to gain yards on every play is unfailing.”
Not lacking in moves, Martinez has a number of tools to elude tacklers, but is known by his coach for one in particular.
“Multiple times this season I have seen him stiff-arm three to four defenders on a single play to run the ball for a touchdown,” Masters said. “His raw power and aggressive running style was a coach's dream this season. Even the best tacklers consistently get thrown to the ground by Kayden's stiff-arm. His unmatched strength and determination consistently gain him yards after contact every play.”
Given his frequent use of the stiff-arm, it should come as no surprise that the physical aspect of the game is what Martinez relishes most.
“I see myself as a power back and my favorite part about playing running back is that I usually end up running someone over,” Martinez said.
While his work on offense gets a bulk of the attention, Martinez excels defensively as well. The senior linebacker recorded 78 tackles, two interceptions, eight pass deflections, a fumble recovery and two forced fumbles.
En route to their championship season, the Tigers faced a few close calls, including a 53-50 win against Northern Valley in week two and a 40-32 victory over defending state champs Cheylin.
“The biggest challenge that I think we faced this year was when we played Cheylin,” Martinez said. “No one on the team had ever beaten them, but by keeping our heads and having some great leaders on the team we ended up with the win.”
Martinez came up big in both matchups, rushing 23 times for 316 yards and six touchdowns against Northern Valley and 25 times for 256 yards and five touchdowns against Cheylin, the top two performances the dynamic senior totaled all year.
The closest margin of victory for Natoma in the final four games was 48 points.
“Kayden Martinez was one of the best positive leaders a coach could ask for,” Masters said. “He made my job a lot easier. If anyone on the team had questions, Kayden was the player to ask. He consistently held everyone on the team accountable, in a positive manner. The team would feed off Kayden's emotions, and he did a great job all season long through trials and tribulations of keeping a positive winning attitude no matter the situation.”
Martinez is undecided on his plans after high school, but has received football offers from Kansas Wesleyan, Southwestern College and Tabor.
“I've worked with Kayden since his freshman year, and his willingness to learn the details of the game and his trait of coachability go a long way for me as a coach, and in turn for the team,” Masters said.