Most who observed Lynden's 38-28 Class 2A State Championship win against Tumwater would say senior Jaremy Martin's chief trait was his ability to fill in for injured running back Trent Postma. Or some could point to his work at linebacker.
Martin helped establish Lynden's physical play throughout the season, delivering big hits every game. He struck again during Lynden's first offensive drive against the Thunderbirds. It was a game-altering play and an example of Martin's versatility and strength.
"We put him at inside wide receiver, and his primary duty was No. 84 (defensive end and Tumwater sack leader Nick Foerstel)," Lions coach Curt Kramme said in a phone interview. "We were going to bring Jaremy to crack block him and set the tone for the afternoon. Jaremy delivered one of the best blocks of the season. No. 84 didn't want much of him after that and his head was on a swivel the rest of the game."
Martin ran from right to left and used his 6-foot-2, 240-pound frame to plant an unsuspecting Foerstel into the Tacoma Dome field turf.
It was a major blow to a Thunderbirds team with the primary objective of putting pressure on sophomore quarterback Sterling Somers.
Martin did a bit of everything for Lynden's offense. He served as one of the team's top blockers from his starting tight end spot, and Kramme drew up passing plays to utilize his good hands. Martin also made an outstanding backup running back to Postma and even lined up at quarterback during the Lions' rainy 34-0 state tournament opening-round win against Kingston.
That's just on the offensive side of the ball.
Martin set a new standard defensively, compiling 113.5 tackles, which broke Tim Hanson's record of 105 set 22 years ago in 1991.
The Lynden senior has been selected The Bellingham Herald's All-Whatcom County Football Player of the Year.
"God just gave me a great gift, and I had some amazing teammates surrounding me," Martin said in a phone interview. "I wouldn't have been able to do it without them."
Martin won three state titles and lost only one game during his three varsity seasons. He was a first-team All-NWC selection, a first-team All-State linebacker and second-team All-State tight end.
While his athleticism and strength helped him become a tremendous football player, Kramme said his mental capacity and instincts put him on another level.
Kramme said his intelligence allowed him to know nearly every duty of every offensive position. Defensively, he received play calls and dictated them to his teammates. He also was responsible for adjusting his defense based on offensive looks.
"It wasn't terribly difficult," said Martin of knowing multiple positions and leading the defense. "I've been learning since my sophomore year."
It was that same season Kramme's favorite Martin play occurred - a key block to spring Kyle Hanson for the game-winning touchdown during Lynden's 17-16 state-title win against Archbishop Murphy in 2011.
Such plays carried over to his junior season when he broke his hand and played through it with his cast heavily bandaged to give him a club for an arm. Yet, Martin still was effective.
With two arms, Martin excelled as arguably the best linebacker both in the Northwest Conference and in the entire state's 2A ranks. He made tackles so often, when he finally missed one, it left Kramme and his teammates in disbelief.
"I just can't say enough positive things about him," Kramme said. "He had a wonderful year, and it would have been very difficult to achieve our level of success without him on the team."
Martin let his play speak for itself. He said his parents instilled a hard-working attitude in him from an early age, and that mentality has been translated to football and other life arenas.
Hard work is also what Martin credited as being responsible for Lynden's third straight 2A title. He didn't have many doubts about how good Lynden could be this year despite returning only three starters. He said he and his teammates worked hard every day in the offseason, and the results paid off in the form of a championship.
"I just want people to remember me as a good all-around guy," Martin said, "a good player who worked hard and put that sweat in the bucket day in and day out and someone others could look up to."
Martin's 113.5 tackles were complemented by 450 yards rushing and nine touchdowns and 107 receiving yards and four more TDs.
Reach Andrew Lang at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-756-2862. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for Whatcom County sports updates.
Reach ANDREW LANG at email@example.com or call ext. 862.