By Andrew Johnson

MUSKEGON – The Muskegon Catholic football team can officially be called a dynasty, after winning four Division 8 state titles in a row.

But the future has many Crusader fans even more excited.

That’s because MCC has three more seasons with Cameron Martinez at quarterback, and if his first year was any indication, there’s a lot more success on the horizon.

Crusader Nation hopes that success starts to materialize on Friday night, when MCC travels to Frankfort to open the 2017 season.

Last year Martinez was only a freshman, but shared the quarterback duties with senior Trenton Bordeaux.

Muskegon Catholic sophomore quarterback Cameron Martinez will lead the Crusaders in their season opener on Friday. Photo/Jason Goorman

His talent was obvious right away. He completed 28 of 36 passes for 601 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also led MCC in rushing with 768 yards (10.5 yards per carry) and 13 touchdowns.

Martinez grabbed widespread attention in last November’s state championship game, when he rushed for 154 yards and a touchdown and threw for 61 yards and a touchdown in MCC’s 35-6 victory over Ottawa Lake Whiteford.

It was a great start to a promising career. But now Martinez is a sophomore, facing a different set of circumstances.

Instead of sharing QB duties, he will be the full-time starter. And instead of being surrounded by a bunch of senior standouts in the backfield, like LaTommy Scott, Logan Helton and Walker Christoffersen, he’s the undisputed offensive leader of a less experienced MCC lineup.

But Martinez said he’s ready for the challenge, after playing with and learning from so many outstanding teammates last year.

“It meant a lot,” Martinez said, about the trust and respect he received from older teammates. “I felt like it was a good thing. Taking those snaps and playing in big moments helped me be more prepared, and ready to help other underclassmen in situations.”

Martinez has been named a captain for the 2017 Crusader squad, a rare role for a sophomore on a championship team.

Cameron Martinez finds an opening during MCC’s 2016 state championship win. Photo/Tim Reilly

“It was an honor to be named a captain,” Martinez said. “It shows that the team trusts me, which is good. I feel like I can be a good leader for my teammates and help them win.”

MCC head coach Stave Czerwon is confident that Martinez is more than ready to lead, despite his tender age and relative lack of experience.

“He’s just a real likeable kid,” said Czerwon, who played quarterback at MCC himself back in the 1990s. “He’s got a good, natural outgoing personality. He stepped onto a senior-led team and was trusted to make plays. He’s got really good leadership skills and it’s showing as a sophomore.”

Martinez said he’s been working hard to improve his game, and is excited to show off his improved speed this season.

“For me, I feel like I’ve gotten faster,” he said. “Last year was my first year at the varsity level and everything came fast for me. This year I feel like it’s slowed down and I’m used to it.

“I’m seeing cuts and angles quicker, and I’ve gotten stronger too. I also feel like I’m more prepared.”

Most Michigan high school football teams will be playing their second game of the season this weekend. But the Frankfort game will be the opener for the Crusaders, who failed to find a Week 1 opponent.

Martinez looks for room on the rush during 2016 playoff opener against Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart. Photo/Tim Reilly

MCC took advantage of the extra week of practice to prepare for Frankfort, a good team they have met in the state playoffs for the past two seasons.

“It was a little rough watching other teams play,” Martinez said about the lack of a game last weekend. “You wish you were able to get out there and play, but it’s kind of a blessing. We were able to get another week of practice, which I feel we needed against Frankfort this week.”

Even though Martinez is only a sophomore, he’s already received scholarship offers from Central Michigan University and the University of Buffalo. But he said his eventual college choice is not a concern right now.

“It’s always fun to think about,” said Martinez, who visited several college campuses over the summer. “I think I can play at the next level, and I have a great supporting cast around me that has helped me pursue that dream. I just take visits to a lot of schools and try not to think too much about it.

”I let my coaches and family be more involved with that. I’m focused on the team and trying to be a better player.”