Bishop Carroll safety Max Martinez is 5-foot-9. He weighs, if he’s lucky, 175 pounds.
Liberal tight end Ty Deaton is a beast. He is 6-3 and checks in at about 215 pounds.
When the game is on the line, however, you might want to take Martinez. In fact, take Martinez every time.
“I just like to hit,” Martinez said. “It feels good to hit people.”
The senior safety, along with returning punts, made two huge plays on defense to end the first half — both on Deaton — to jump-start the Eagles on the way to a 42-13 win in the first round of Class 5A-District 7 play, a solid follow-up to last week’s 41-3 win over rival Kapaun Mount Carmel.
“Last week was a big win for us, so this game was dangerous, we didn’t want to have a dropoff,” Carroll coach Alan Schuckman said. “We emphasized that this is a district game, that this is going to determine who gets to the state playoffs.”
After Liberal’s Jade Cathey — a Kansas State oral commitment — intercepted Tyler Nance deep in Liberal territory with the Redskins trailing 14-7 in the second quarter, Martinez intercepted Skyler McVey on the very next play, grabbing the pick after the ball deflected off Deaton’s hands.
Martinez reversed field on the return and brought the ball back to inside the Liberal 10.
“I kind of ran out of gas there at the end,” Martinez said, smiling. “Teams like Liberal, if you slip up on just one assignment, they could make you pay with a touchdown.”
Sophomore running back Jalen Hernandez, filling in for the injured Brandon Weber, scored several plays later from two yards to make the score 21-7 with just over six minutes before halftime.
Hernandez finished with 59 yards on 19 carries and three touchdowns. Nance rushed for 104 yards and a touchdown.
“Jalen did a really good job tonight,” Nance said. “We miss having Brandon around because he’s a big part of our offense, but (Jalen) stepped up.”
On the Redskins’ next position, McVey took a shot downfield on third down to what looked like a wide-open Deaton. Just as the tight end got his hands on the ball, Martinez came out of nowhere to deliver a highlight-reel hit, sending Deaton to his back and the ball dribbling harmlessly to the turf.
Nance found Brian Rohleder for an 8-yard touchdown pass with 28 seconds left to send Carroll (6-1, 1-0 District 8) into halftime with a 28-7 lead.
“I guess it’s good when you look up and see you’ve scored 42 points but think you could’ve played better,” Schuckman said. “I think we’re a better team than we showed tonight.”
Liberal (2-5, 0-1) 0 7 0 6 — 13
Bishop Carroll (6-1, 1-0) 14 14 7 7 — 42
BC—Hernandez 9 run (Louthan kick)
BC—Hernandez 6 run (Louthan kick)
L—Deaton 8 pass from McVey (Quintero kick)
BC—Hernandez 2 run (Louthan kick)
BC—Rohleder 8 pass from Nance (Louthan kick)
BC—Nance 8 run (Louthan kick)
BC—Palmer 18 run (Louthan kick)
L—McVey 24 run (kick failed)
Rushing—Liberal, McVey 22-31, Gallegos 20-88, McPhail 4-17. Carroll, Nance 16-104, Hernandez 19-59, Palmer 2-17, Linnebur 3-7.
Passing—Liberal, McVey 6-16-51-2. Carroll, Nance 7-12-77-1, Palmer 1-1-8-0.
Receiving—Liberal Cathey 1-0, Deaton 3-39, Seaton 1-10, Gallegos 1-2. Carroll, Crippen 3-44, Rohleder 3-22, Nance 1-8, Biedron 1-11.