Kirk speaks with his son Kason prior to the start of their game against Angleton. Photo by Casey Chancellor/Jarhead Photography
Originally appeared on Vype.com.
HOUSTON—When Kason Martin steps off the bus underneath AT&T Stadium on Friday afternoon in Arlington, the senior quarterback of the Manvel Mavericks will be one step closer to his future.
One game is all that remains between Kason and his collegiate career just 42 minutes up the road from Arlington at the University of North Texas.
That remaining contest happens to be the biggest game of his high school career—the 5A Division I State Championship.
“We’re going to State and Kason’s leading us,” Manvel coach and Kason’s father Kirk said. “It really is a storybook life I’m living. It’s really incredible.”
For some fathers it is the dream that their son will grow up and play football just like they did. Be the starting quarterback for the team and lead the program to the top.
Kirk, who moved to Manvel 12 years ago to open Manvel High School, dreamed that for his son Kason.
Kirk and his wife of 23 years Caren have four children, Kason is the youngest, and the last to leave home in just three weeks for North Texas.
Kason’s older brothers Koda, a starting left tackle at Texas A&M and London Harris, an outside linebacker at Texas State, both played football at Manvel. Koda was on the 2011 Manvel team that made it to state but fell short to Aledo.
Kirk and Caren’s daughter Cory Jo also went on to play collegiate volleyball and just transferred to Mary Hardin-Baylor.
The Martins have bled Manvel colors for the past 12 years and now it’s Kason’s time to write the final chapter.
“This is a super special time and you can’t get it back,” Caren said. “He’s our baby. He’s the youngest one in our family and the hard part about letting your kids go to college is once your oldest goes then after that you know what it feels like to miss a kid. I’m so thankful that he has a scholarship and he’s going to live out his dream. But I’ve never had to let one go in the middle of the year, so I’m trying to get over that. He told me “Momma quit crying, I’m not dying, I’m going to college.”
A father-son relationship can already be a trying one at times.
Throw into the mix your father being the head coach of the football team you are the starting quarterback for and that brings a whole other dynamic to it.
“Every coach’s kid in America they have to earn it doubly because everybody calls it playing daddy ball; this guy was given it, he
didn’t earn it,” Kirk said. “That’s just not the case. He was on the freshman team as a freshman, on the junior varsity team as a sophomore and earned the job as a junior.”
Earning it he has and both Kirk and Kason have gone through the growing pains of getting to this place.
When Kason was a sophomore, Kirk knew he would probably be the guy under center the next year. For that role he had to prepare him and it did.
“My dad was super hard on me throughout these past three years, but the better I’ve gotten the less he’s chewed me out. Imagine that!,” Kason said with a laugh. “Anyways, I wouldn’t change a thing about me and my dad's relationship, he’s prepared me for college and life, my skin is thick and I can take coaching because of him. He’s the best coach in Texas I guarantee you!”
Some of that preparing meant coming down hard on him.
At times Kirk admitted he did come down too hard on him and felt bad for it, but has made sure over the past two seasons to be better. He has, and their relationship coach-player and father-son are better than ever.
“I love him with all my heart and I’m so proud of him,” Kirk said. “He has grown, he has gotten tougher and he’s become an unbelievable football player. A great leader and there’s not enough good adjectives to describe him.
“He’s really a great young man. He’s so many great things. He doesn’t cuss, he’s never drank a bit of alcohol ever, never really had a girlfriend. He’s just a really good kid that anybody would love to have.”
As Caren has sat back and watched, she has seen over the last two seasons not only her husband grow but also her youngest son.
“That father-son relationship there’s times where it’s really hard,” she said. “There’s a lot of pressure and a lot of intense emotions and they both want the same thing. But it’s not always easy.
“It’s just been beautiful watching them grow. Watching him grow into a young man and them figure out how to work together on the football field and not be frustrated with one another. Because it’s a different relationship when it’s your daddy out there telling you what to do. They’ve figured it out. I’m so thankful and so glad.”
GROUNDED AND HUMBLE
Try to talk to Kason about his stat line after a game and you will hear a lot of praise but not about anything he did.
“He’s never made it about him,” Kirk said. “Anytime he gets praised he talks about his offensive line or his unbelievable receivers or his great stable of running backs or this great defense that keeps giving us the ball with a short field.”
Kason extends his grounded and humble ways off the field and into his personal life.
A day after Manvel’s 35-10 win against Angleton to get to state, a picture of Kason came up on Twitter. It was of him preaching as a part of the The Krush Student Ministry as a part of a special weekend event.
Kason and the Martin’s are deeply devoted in their faith and are sure to praise God for all the blessings they’ve had.
Every morning at their house after a full breakfast of bacon and eggs and the other fixings prepared by Caren and then Kason’s grandfather Jim Robbins comes over for a bible study.
That daily routine, which will play out the exact same way this week every morning, has played a major role into the man that Kason has become.
“My mom has been the one who keeps my head on straight when things go wrong or right,” Kason said. “My grandpa is another huge supporter in my life. We have bible study every morning, he’s helped grow my faith this year and use football to impact my team with Christ’s love!”
Not just Kason but all the Martin’s children—Koda, Cory Jo, London and Kason—have been raised the same way.
As any coach will tell you, especially during football season, a coach’s wife is arguably one of the most important members of the team.
“She’s always pouring into them. I just can’t tell you all she does for those kids,” Kirk said. “She’s incredible. She’s a really amazing woman. They are who they are because of her. That’s the truth. All of them are amazing, all my kids are really good kids.”
TREASURING THE MOMENTS
Every breakfast and dinner where they are all around the table at the Martin’s home this week will be treasured.
With this being the final week of school and Kason’s final high school game just a few days away, Caren said they would just treasure this time because soon this fairytale will be over.
“No matter what there’ll be tears,” Caren said about whenever the final seconds tick off the clock in Friday’s game. “Because I’m going to cry because it’s over and I’m going to cry if we win. I don’t even want to mention the other. It’s just going to be tears of joy.
“Just so thankful for the way it’s all happened. When there’s that much pressure on your kid you never know are they going to rise up, rise to the occasion or are they going to crumble under the pressure. The Lord has blessed us with a whole lot of wins. In the last two years he’s only lost one game. That’s unheard-of. We’re so proud.”
More than once, the head coach of the Mavericks has admitted he’s living in that fairy-tale and there’s just one more thing to make it a happy ending.
“If we win this game it’ll be a storybook ending for sure,” Kirk said.
“Another one!”- DJ Khaled
That's the first thing that came to mind when I heard the news of Tytus Howard being shut down for the season because of a knee injury. They've had more injuries on the offensive line this season than Nick Cannon has Father's Day cards. Almost every member of the offensive line has spent time on the injury report. Howard went down in the same game in which Juice Scruggs was finally on the active roster. He missed the first 10 games due to a hamstring injury. The irony of next man up has never been so in your face.
The other thing that came to mind was the soap opera As the World Turns.
Howard had just signed an extension this offseason. So did Laremy Tunsil and Shaq Mason. They drafted Juice Scruggs, and signed a few guys too. Those moves, along with other holdovers, were expected to fill out the depth chart. Then a rash of injuries struck. At one point, only one of the original five guys expected to start was playing! In fact, they beat the Steelers 30-6 with that backup offensive line!
One can't have the expectation of backups to perform as good as the starters. They're professionals and are on an NFL roster for a reason. However, the talent gap is evident. One thing coaching, technique, and preparation can't cover is lack of ability or talent. The Texans have done a good job of navigating the injury minefield this season. While the Howard injury will hurt, I have faith in the guys there still.
As of this writing, the Texans are in the eighth spot in the AFC playoff picture. The Steelers, Browns, and Colts are all in front of them at the fifth through seventh spots respectfully. They've beaten the Steelers already. They play the Browns on Christmas Eve and their starting quarterback is out for the season. The Colts are relying on the ghost of Gardner Minshew to steer their ship into the last game of the season vs. the Texans with a possible playoff trip on the line. The Broncos and Bills are the two teams immediately behind them. They play the Broncos this weekend. Even though they're on a hot streak, this is the same team that got 70 put on them by the Dolphins. The Bills are the old veteran boxer who still has some skill, but is now a stepping stone for up & comers.
To say this team should still make the playoffs would be an understatement in my opinion. I believe in them and what they have going on more than I believe in the teams I listed above. That includes teams around them in the playoff race that aren't on their schedule. The one thing that scares me a little moving forward is the sustainability of this line. When guys get up in age as athletes, it becomes harder to come back from injuries. The injuries also tend to occur more frequently when it's a knee, foot, ankle, shoulder, elbow, or another body part critical to blocking for C.J. Stroud.
I know they just re-signed three of those guys and drafted one they believe can be a starter, but depth and contingency plans are a way of life in the NFL. We see how important depth was this season. Why not plan ahead? Don't be surprised if the Texans spend valuable draft capital on the offensive line. By valuable, I'm talking about first through third or fourth rounders. Those are prime spots to draft quality offensive lineman. Whether day one starters or quality depth, those are the sweet spots. The only guy on the two deep depth chart for this offensive line that wasn't drafted in one of those rounds was George Fant, who was an undrafted rookie free agent. While I highly doubt they spend any significant free agency dollars on the group, I'm not totally ruling it out.
The bottom line is, this team will be okay on the line for the remainder of this season. The only way that doesn't happen, more injuries. Stroud is clearly the franchise guy. Protecting that investment is a top priority. I don't care about a number one receiver, or a stud stable or singular running back if the quarterback won't have time to get them the ball. If the pilot can't fly the plane, you know what happens. So making sure he's happy, healthy, and has a great crew is of the utmost importance.