HUSKIES FOOTBALL CONTINUES UPWARD TRAJECTORY
Martin Ezidro. But the players call him Coach Mar. It’s his third year coaching Mammoth High School’s football team. 2019 – the year before COVID – his Huskies went 0-7.
Last season, Coach Mar got a few new coaches – Mammoth locals, some with kids on the team. Having more coaching staff – men like offensive coordinator James Gray – gave Coach Mar time to step back and think big picture.
The team went 8-1 and lost in the CIF semifinals to Mojave.
“That was the first winning season in 17 years,” Coach Mar says. We stand by the sideline. On the field, players tie shoes and get prepped for practice. “So, this whole program, man, I mean… I’m smiling dude. It’s like the best feeling ever.”
This season, the Huskies are 5-0 and rank 2nd in California’s Central Section, according to MaxPreps.com.
Coach Mar likes to break his season into quarters. The Huskies just entered their second. This Friday at 7:00 p.m., the team squares up in an away match against their toughest opponent yet: the 4-1 Lone Pine.
“It’s their homecoming, guys,” Coach Mar says to his huddled team before practice starts. “That should make you angry.”
Lone Pine is a huge game. “The way I see it – and I’ve been harping on my kids – we have to win this game,” says Coach Mar. Because the winner gets home field advantage for the playoffs. “And, personally, up here at 8,000 feet… I mean, we run everybody.” The Huskies have been 14-2 in the last two years. Thin air and running hurry-up – that’s a winning recipe.
“All the stands are filled now,” Coach Mar says. He points to the bleachers that border the field. The small town, high school football team – it’s something Coach Mar really believes in. “We got one team, one family. That’s what we’re trying to build here. And it’s worked,” the coach says.
Coach Mar doesn’t hesitate to give credit where credit is due. He and his staff have taken the program, revived it, and changed the culture. But, he says, “Without our community, we’re nothing.”
The Huskies only have three seniors this year – Sam Boyer-Tolley, Peyton Barragan, and Phillip Bumgardner. And the other kids – they didn’t play youth football.
“So, we don’t have that football IQ,” says Coach Mar. What they do have? Speed and strength. They’ve made some incredible comebacks, from being down 18 -7 in their first game and coming back 46-26, to scoring for the win with a minute and thirty left last week against Coleville.
“I think we’ve only allowed 49 points in five games or something like that,” Coach Mar says. “It’s the grit this team has. We’re dogs.”
But, he’s not satisfied. The Huskies could work on flying to the ball: “Creating turnovers is a big thing. We harp on it. Turnovers win ball games.”
His biggest message to the kids: take it day by day. “I tell my kids: let’s be the difference. Everyday. Daily. Just take it day by day,” he says. “Tomorrow’s tomorrow. Today is today.”
Coach Mar wants to spark a rivalry between Mammoth and Lone Pine. “It used to be Bishop and Mammoth, but, you know, we’re in 8-man [division]. And we’re comfortable in 8-man,” Coach Mar says. “We have the right kids for 8-man.”
The Huskies, who’ve averaged just under 40 points per game this season, have three home games this October. October 7th at 5:00 p.m. against Eureka, October 15th at 7:00 p.m. against RHP, and October 21st at 6:00 p.m. against Sandy Valley.
“We’re gonna keep this thing rolling,” Coach Mar says. The wind comes down the hill and through the field. He smiles. “I’m obviously not going anywhere. I’m trying to win state championships. I’m trying to get some kids into college who want to go. So, it’s gonna be fun.”
He jogs to the other coaches, smiling. It’s clear: there’s no place he’d rather be.