King City Mustangs quarterback Jjey Martinez (#6) warms up next to head football coach Mac Villanueva during a game last season. (Jason Gallardo/Staff)

KING CITY — In the final game of the 2021-22 season, King City Mustangs quarterback Jjey Martinez and his team were lining up for a two-point conversion against Pacific Grove that likely would have pushed the game into overtime, but they were unable to pick it up, dashing their hopes of ending their playoff drought.

“It was a tough loss,” Martinez said. “After the game, when everything hit that we might not have a postseason, it was just disappointing all around.”

Last year the Mustangs had a great season with a 7-2 record. During Martinez’s time as the starting quarterback, the offense averaged 30 points per game and he earned himself first-team All-League honors.

Martinez threw for 1,437 yards, had 10 touchdown passes and rushed for more than 200 yards with six rushing touchdowns.

Although he had a good year and was recognized as one of the top players in the league, Martinez wasn’t satisfied with how that season ended. He knew for his senior year and final football season as a King City Mustang, he had to be better this year — and that all started in the weight room.

“During the winter, I started to hit the weights more,” Martinez said. “Everyday after school, more lifting, then I would go throw the ball with my teammates at a park.”

Martinez was also a star player on last season’s King City varsity basketball team, which barely missed out on the playoffs. Because of his love of football, Martinez, who usually is a three-sport athlete, decided to pass up playing baseball this past spring to concentrate on the upcoming football season.

After the basketball season, his intensity in his workout started to amp up even more. He also knew that he had to break in a whole new group of receivers for this upcoming year.

“It means so much to me,” Martinez said. “I’ve been telling everyone that it’s our season this year. After missing the playoffs last year, that’s something I don’t want to go through this year.”

King City High senior Jjey Martinez attempts a pass during the recent seven-on-seven games. (Jason Gallardo/Staff)

Although the Mustangs are not in a rebuilding year, they will have to break in a new group of skilled guys, and it might take them a while to get caught up to game speed. Martinez knows it’s going to take time, and he is ready to teach.

“I am not trying to stress over everything that happens with the year,” he said. “Mentally, I’m preparing myself for every situation.”

Martinez credits his mother for his work ethic. Growing up with his siblings, things weren’t always ideal, but she would make it work.

“Even when things get tough, she is always moving forward,” he said. “She is the reason why I’m putting in so much work. I’m trying to make her happy.”

That toughness was built in Martinez early, as he lost his father at a young age. Since then, everything he does is to honor him and his family.

“When I was 6 months old, my father passed away,” he said. “Ever since then, I’ve been trying to make him proud.”

As Martinez suits up for the Mustangs, he understands that this year will have it’s ups and downs, but they will have a team that will be able to compete in the Cypress Division.

“Everything takes time,” he said. “We’ll be good. By the time we play our league games, we’ll be ready.”

Previous articleWorthy to Print Column | Remember to Slow Down
Next articleSalinas Valley Police Reports | Published Aug. 10, 2022
Jason Gallardo is the sports reporter for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers high school sports for South Monterey County.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here