By HARRISON HAMLET
(MARTINSVILLE, Va.) – Martinsville’s football team is laying a foundation for a brighter future. The difficult part, according to head coach Bobby Martin, is that sometimes the progress on a foundation is difficult to see from above ground.
G.W.-Danville came to Martinsville on Friday night and handed the Bulldogs a 49-0 loss to close out the regular season. Martin elaborated on the near misses, close calls, and first-half mistakes that created a tough situation for his team looking to earn their first win of the season.
“We were there in scoring territory a couple of times early,” Martin said. “We got to the five-yard-line and the 10-yard-line when it was 0-0 and 7-0. They scored right before the half to make it 21-0 and if we had just made a play we would’ve been right there with them.”
The Eagles turned on the jets in the second half, closing out Martinsville’s season in a disappointing fashion.
Consistency from drive-to-drive, and therefore game-to-game, has been a difficulty for the Bulldogs this season, Martin’s first at the helm of the historic program.
“We’re trying to win some games but consistency has been our issue all year,” Martin said. “We can move the ball, but we have to make plays and score points, and make plays and get our defense off the field, if we want to change the win column.”
Despite finishing the season with an 0-10 record, Martin is not distraught about the future of his program. Rather, he sees potential in his current team and the future.
“We played Bassett as well as you can play them without winning, and they just beat Magna Vista,” Martin said. “We’re not far away.”
Martin’s refrains this season have been to “keep fighting” and “get better,” a message he gave each week to his team.
So, did the Bulldogs fight? Did they get better in 2019?
“Yes sir, we definitely fought. A friend of mine came to the game on Friday, he didn’t tell me he was coming. He said he came just to see if they kept fighting. He said we were overmatched, but we kept fighting. I’m glad people can see that,” Martin said. “I thought we got better at things as individuals. I think, if anybody watched us all year, they saw us get better as the year went on.
“Wins are for the kids. I don’t want them to accept losing,” Martin continued. “They work hard enough to win. If we keep working and stay focused it will change.”
Martin faced a difficult situation based on his hire date in 2019. He only had a fall camp to prepare his team for the season. Now, he has eight months to get ready for 2020, when he expects things will be different.
“That’s a major deal for us: Having time to work this offseason,” Martin said. “These next eight months are crucial for us. It will tell the story of our season next year and how much we improve. We’ve just got to improve everywhere – bigger faster stronger at every position. The lines are a focal point. I’m excited about the next eight months. That time will be important for us as a team.”
Fans could be forgiven for thinking that Martin has been frustrated, disappointed, or unhappy as head coach of the Bulldogs after the success he enjoyed at previous coaching stops.
According to Martin, they would be wrong.
“I love what I do. I was hurting for the kids at times this year. You hurt for them, not for yourself,” Martin said. “They (the players) can’t see the things that I see, they only see the scoreboard. I hurt for them bad because they were trying. I’m healthy, I’m doing what I enjoy doing and trying to help these kids become better people. Yes I want to win, but the greatest goal is for our kids to become winners. The scoreboard doesn’t decide if you’re a winner or not. That’s why I still enjoy every day. I choose to be positive in spite of games and scoreboards. I decide to be positive and speak that to these kids.”
When asked for a realistic description of the winless season, Martin again wielded an optimistic tone with an eye towards the future.
“The reality is we were in some games and not in others. They were fighting, they believed and they believed they were somebody. That’s what I asked of the players,” Martin said. “We already have meetings scheduled to set up the next eight months. We’re building a foundation for 2020.”