State Voyage

Countdown to State: Kirk Martin’s journey from Quitaque to a State Championship game

Coach Kirk Martin of Manvel on the sideline. Vype

Originally appeared on Vype.com.

HOUSTON – Kirk Martin’s love for Texas high school football started in the small West Texas town of Quitaque.

With a population of 601 and just down the road from Turkey, Texas, in between the two towns was Valley High School—a Class 1A program, which Martin watched and helped out with while growing up and eventually played for from 1985-1988.

“I was a football junkie,” Martin said. “I was a football manager when I was in the fifth grade. I rode the yellow dogs and all that stuff. I had an older brother; he was a manager in seventh grade so I was in fifth grade. I went to all the games; I’ve seen so many great games.”

The chase for a state championship from his childhood has carried over into his career.

Martin’s journey has taken him to almost every corner of Texas, including stops in El Paso, Alvin, Odessa—at Permian working for T.J. Mills—Giddings, Alpine—his first head coaching job in 2004—and then Manvel.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” wife of 23 years Caren said about being on this journey with Kirk. “When we first got married he was teaching at a junior high and coaching at a high school. Then we got to move all over Texas. He was an assistant for a while, a coordinator.

“Before we moved to Manvel the longest we lived anywhere was four years and that’s when he was at Alvin High School. The shortest we lived anywhere was eight months. He was the offensive coordinator at Giddings and then he got his first head coaching job at Alpine. We loved living in Alpine. It was in the middle of nowhere but we had so much fun being out there and it was a great place to raise kids. I thought we’d stay there but the job came open and we prayed (about it).”

Along the way there was always success.

At Alvin, Martin was the offensive coordinator when the program last won a District Championship in 1996. At Giddings, Martin helped guide the team to a win against La Grange for the first time in 12 years.

With all of this on his resume, Martin got a chance to build a program from the ground up with Manvel opening.

Since starting to compete in 2008, Manvel has made the playoffs in eight of 10 years, had 10-plus win seasons for eight-straight seasons and made it to the state quarterfinals seven times.

In 2011, the Mavericks made a run to the 5A Division II State Championship game against Aledo. This was Martin’s first chance to capture that title.

Aledo won the game 49-28.

“We’ve been there before and I didn’t know if I’d ever be back again,” Martin said. “Our oldest son (Koda) was a sophomore when we went in 2011 and we didn’t win it. Everybody kept telling me don’t forget to enjoy it. Enjoy the moment, savor the flavor and all that stuff and there was so many different community pep rallies and hoopla stuff and I don’t know if we were as focused as we needed to be. I think the bigness of it really affected us.

“We played tight in the first quarter and for the first half. Offensively we weren’t ourselves. We dropped a bunch of balls and did some things that were uncharacteristic of our football team. I’ve always said if we get to do it again I’m going to make sure our kids are really focused and aren’t worried about the moment.”

That chance for Manvel and Martin comes on Friday against defending state champion Highland Park at AT&T Stadium.

A day after clinching the spot in the title game with a 35-10 win against Angleton, Martin was at home getting ready for the day when something happened that brought him to tears.

“My son (London Harris) that’s at Texas State won state in track and he’s got a state ring,” Martin said. “It was underneath a towel by my sink and Saturday morning I got up early, took a shower and I went over was brushing my teeth and I picked that hand towel up and there was that state ring with that Manvel ‘M’ on the front of it.

“Honestly I just started crying. I was just like it was almost like it was put there for me I just started balling. I was like this thing may actually happen.”

If it does happen it will mark the first-ever football state championship for Manvel High School.

On top of that it would fulfill the dream of the kid from Quintaque, Texas who has lived and breathed Texas high school football.

“I’m so focused right now,” Martin said. “We’ve got to do this.”

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Springer had two homers Sunday

Springer helps lift Astros to series win over D-backs

Photo by Bob Levey / Getty Images

With a win on Saturday to tie the series 1-1, the Astros took the field at Minute Maid Park for the last time of 2020 on Sunday. A victory would give them the series against Arizona and move them one step closer to securing one of the two playoff spots for the AL West's highest-record finishing duo. Here are the quick highlights from Sunday's rubber game:

Final Score: Astros 3, Diamondbacks 2.

Record: 27-26, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Blake Taylor (2-1, 2.41 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Junior Guerra (1-2, 3.04 ERA).

Urquidy goes six while allowing two runs

After three scoreless innings on both sides, Arizona would start the scoring in the top of the fourth. They would load the bases with no outs against Jose Urquidy, getting back-to-back singles to start the frame before Urquidy issued a walk. He would get out of the jam with just one run allowed, though, thanks to a timely double play and a flyout to end the inning.

The D-backs ambushed Urquidy in the top of the fifth, getting a leadoff solo homer to double their lead to 2-0. Urquidy would go on to finish six innings while allowing just the two runs. His final line: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 1 HR, 90 P.

Springer takes it into his own hands

After tagging him with eight runs on August 4th in Arizona, the Astros were unable to figure out Madison Bumgarner on Sunday, going scoreless over his five innings on the mound. They went to work against Arizona's bullpen in the bottom of the sixth, starting with a near-conventional homerun turned inside-the-park homer for George Springer to start the inning, cutting the lead in half 2-1.

They went on to load the bases with two outs but would strand all three runners to keep it a one-run game heading to the seventh. Andre Scrubb was first out of Houston's bullpen and had a 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts. In the bottom of the seventh, Springer tied the game with his second homer in as many innings, this time over the right-field fence, making it 2-2.

Astros grab the late lead, take the series

Scrubb would retire one more batter, getting a groundout to start the top of the eighth before Houston moved on to Blake Taylor to face the top of Arizona's order. He would keep it a tie game, working around a two-out infield single to end the inning.

Houston would get the go-ahead run in scoring position in the bottom of the eighth, with Alex Bregman getting hit by a pitch then moving to second on a walk to Michael Brantley. They'd go on to load the bases with another walk and one out, setting up a go-ahead sac fly by Carlos Correa to take a 3-2 lead.

That presented another chance for a save for Ryan Pressly, which he would notch as the Astros would take the final two games of the three-game set to win the series. The win moved them up to 27-26 on the year, keeping them a leg up on the Mariners for second place in the AL West.

Up Next: Seven games remain in Houston's regular season, all on the road, with a three-game series in Seattle against the Mariners and then a four-game set in Arlington against the Rangers. The opener in Seattle will get underway at 8:10 PM Central on Monday and features the pitching matchup of Marco Gonzalez (6-2, 3.49 ERA) for the Mariners and Lance McCullers Jr. (3-2, 4.87 ERA) for the Astros.

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