By HARRISON HAMLET
(SOUTH BOSTON, Va.) – The improvements are there, Martinsville head football coach Bobby Martin said on Sunday afternoon, they just aren’t showing up on the scoreboard yet.
On Friday night on the road against Halifax County, the scoreboard was again unkind to the Bulldogs as they fell 47-14, but Martin sees the improvement in his Martinsville roster.
“We were battling early, it just gets away from us up front as the game goes on, we get out-manned up front,” Martin said. “We’re getting better, we’re just trying to make up for lost time.”
Early in the second quarter, Martinsville was able to tie the game at six, but the Comets exploded from there, leading to a 21-6 halftime deficit for the Bulldogs.
Martin noted that several times this year, his team could have been in position to close out wins if a better start to the game had set them up for success. Instead, the Bulldogs often find themselves digging out of holes.
“The starts are encouraging, we’re able to match up early, but if our starts were a little bit better we’d be 3-4 (instead of 0-7),” Martin said. “Three games now we could have won if we hadn’t spotted teams 21 points. I don’t care how good you are, that’s a tough situation. We’re doing some things better every week, just not putting it all together right now.”
After halftime, the visiting Martinsville team was unable to mount the same challenge to Halifax County that the Bulldogs managed at home against Patrick County. This led to a 35-14 deficit entering the fourth quarter, something Martin felt would be difficult to overcome, especially after watching the film of the Comets victory over Bassett.
“When I watched them on film Halifax looked good, they looked good against Bassett and Bassett has some men,” Martin said. “I was impressed with that. We saw the same thing on Friday night.”
The Martinsville touchdowns came courtesy of Jahil Martin and Tre Wilson on explosive plays, one a kick return, but there simply weren’t enough explosive plays in the bag to keep the Bulldogs in the game late.
Despite injuries affecting the offensive line and skill positions, Martin said he has stuck roughly to the same offensive philosophy, allowing his players to become more comfortable now after a fall camp and seven weeks under the first-year head coach. The formations have changed slightly, but the plays are attacking the same stress points in opposing defenses.
“It’s been the same offense just a different formation. We’ve been running the same stuff for four weeks now,” Martin explained. “We had so many injuries. If we ever got healthy we’d go back to a true spread. We just have too many injuries up front and lost too many skill kids to injury to run a true spread. For example, we were missing three running backs on Friday against Halifax. It has just been a tough road this year.”
Martinsville (0-7) must now prepare to face Henry County rival Bassett (4-3) and familiarity for the players could play a motivating role for the Bulldogs, Martin said.
“I hope that seeing those Bassett guys around town helps motivate the players,” Martin said. “For me, to play another Friday night is something to look forward to. I just love lining up and going to compete. I know we’re going to get it turned around eventually.”
For the coaches, there is certainly familiarity, as well, with the elder Martin noting he has known Bassett head coach Brandon Johnson and Johnson’s family for decades.
“I’ve known coach Johnson since he was a baby so I am excited for him and the job he is doing at Bassett. I knew he would do things right,” Martin said. “I watched him grow up. I knew he was going to do a good job, so that doesn’t surprise me one bit. I’m a big supporter of his.”
Halifax County High School 47, Martinsville High School 14
MHS – 0 6 8 0 – 14
HCHS – 0 21 14 12 – 47