Versatile Reed Martin helps Plum to unbeaten start

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Sunday, October 4, 2020 | 11:01 AM


In Plum football’s Greater Allegheny Conference game against Mars on Sept. 25, Reed Martin never left the field.

The Mustangs senior lined up at wide receiver and running back on offense and at cornerback on defense. He punted, kicked off, converted extra points and returned kicks in the 49-21 triumph.

“It was very exciting,” Martin said. “We started out a little slow, but we stayed confident and knew we could come into a tough place to play and get a big win.”

Martin is a Swiss Army Knife of sorts for the Plum football team, which went into last Friday’s conference matchup with Highlands 3-0 and No. 4 in the Trib HSSN Class 4A rankings.

“I love scoring touchdowns, but I will help my team wherever they need me throughout the game,” said Martin, caught two touchdown passes and kicked seven extra points in the win over the Planets.

“I’ve always wanted to be that leader to show the team we can be good and motivate them to accomplish our goals,” he said.

Martin’s versatility and drive continues to impress Plum coach Matt Morgan.

“He does everything for us. He’s so valuable to what we do,” Morgan said. “He put on 10 to 15 pounds of good weight and muscle in the offseason and didn’t lose any speed or agility. He plays with a strength and energy level he lacked in prior years. His confidence level is very high, and it makes a huge difference.”

Martin is part of a Plum team in the midst of a resurgence after going a combined 10-29 in four seasons following a 2015 campaign in which it made the WPIAL Quad-A playoffs and a 2014 season which ended in the WPIAL quarterfinals.

“We’ve been waiting for this,” said Martin, who has 129 receiving yards and three touchdowns through three games.

“The past few years haven’t been that great, but we’ve been working pretty hard in the offseasons. We’re pretty happy to be winning now. The hard work is paying off.”

While the start is great, Martin understands he and his teammates can’t rest on their laurels. Plum was scheduled to face Highlands last Friday in a game that was to be played past the deadline for this week’s edition.

“We’ve talked about that a lot,” Martin said. “Coach Morgan has been telling us we should be happy with (the start to the season), but we have to continue to take care of business week by week and not look ahead.”

Martin, who picked off a pass against Mars and put the Plum offense in good field position several times with effective kickoff returns, understands he does a lot but doesn’t have to do too much with experienced talent all over the field.

“We all don’t have big games every game,” Martin said. “But someone will step up. They can’t stop us all. As soon as they focus on one person, there is someone else there to make plays.”

Martin, who has generated college interest from a number of Division III schools in the area, has increased his kicking duties this season after sharing them last year with the now graduated Tyler Kolankowski.

He booted four kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks against Mars.

“Special teams is a third of the game,” Martin said. “I love playing special teams. It gets me excited.”

Martin drilled a 41-yard field goal in the season-opening win over Greensburg Salem.

“We have the utmost amount of confidence in Reed’s leg, no matter the situation,” Morgan said.

Martin said he welcomes the opportunity to try and better his school-record tying 51-yarder he hit last year against Belle Vernon. His confidence, he said, comes from his trust in the blockers up front and the connection between long snappers Rocco Caprara and Ian Lamia and holder Zach Fields.

Last year’s record kick put Martin at the top with Jacob Chapla, the former Plum kicking standout who completed a record-setting career at Slippery Rock in 2019. Chapla, who hit one from 51 yards against Connellsville in 2014, is back with the Mustangs and is working with Martin.

Pat McAfee, who went on to have a strong kicking career in college at West Virginia and in the NFL with the Indianapolis Colts, had held the Plum record with a 48-yard kick in 2004.

Martin said it’s an honor to be in the select company with Chapla and McAfee.

“It’s pretty awesome, knowing who they are and how good they are,” Martin said. “It’s cool they appreciate and show love back to where they came from.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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