BY ZACH EWING Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
East High soccer coach Marty Martinez thought he'd be resting this year after six successful years of coaching the Blades' boys team.
Instead, he's with the Blades' girls soccer team, busy destroying one of the oldest sports cliches in the book: Experience equals success.
East High's girls were unbeaten through 17 games, with two draws the only blemishes on their record until a Wednesday night loss to Highland -- but those aren't the Blades' most impressive numbers.
The Blades are doing all of this with seven freshmen and seven sophomores on their 20-player roster, including nine of 11 starters. Plus, it's Martinez's first year as girls coach.
"Our whole team is just solid," Martinez said. "We have some speed, and I know you can win with speed. But we were excited for the future; that was our whole thing.
"But once we beat Ridgeview (the top seed in Central Section Division III a year ago), I said, 'I thought it would be down the road, but hey, we're legit now.'"
Perhaps even more astounding is that East hadn't had a winning record -- or won more than two league games in the same season -- since 2006-07.
But those days suddenly seem like distant past, even after a 4-0 loss to two-time defending Division III section champion Highland on Wednesday.
"I had been with the boys for a while, and I said last year was going to be it," Martinez said. "I just didn't want to do it anymore. But I had some girls (players) in my class, and my athletic director was getting in my ear.
"What really did it for me was people who said, 'You can't win with those girls.' I'm competitive, man. Once I started hearing that, it kind of got me motivated."
The Blades' top players include freshman forward Cee Cee Butler, who has 20 goals, sophomore midfielder Anyssa Lopez and freshman defender Odalys Espinoza.
But Martinez said the real secret of the team's success was attitude.
"I always had watched the girls team from afar, and I knew how I would do it," he said. "We had to change the culture of the team. I was hard on those kids, and the ones who made it through were the ones who wanted to work. That's the bulk of our team. If you don't want to buy in, sorry, you got to go."
Carter off to good start
Former Ridgeview track and field star Johnny Carter had a memorable collegiate debut Friday, setting the Division II national leading marks in both the triple jump and long jump at the UAB Blazer Invitational in Birmingham, Ala.
Carter, who redshirted last year and competes for Academy of Art University in San Francisco, hit 50-9.25 in the triple jump, a school record and the fifth-best collegiate mark overall this season. His 24-7 in the long jump is No. 8 among all collegiate divisions.
For his efforts, Carter was named Monday as the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association National Athlete of the Week.
"It was a great feeling being where I belong -- on the track," Carter said in an Academy of Art University release. "Even though I wasn't 100 percent, I refused to leave the pit without making a statement that I am here and ready."
HHS Hot Stove Dinner
The Highland baseball program will hold its Hot Stove Dinner Jan. 26, with former major leaguer Steve Yeager as the guest speaker.
The event begins at 5 p.m., with dinner at 6, at the East Bakersfield Veterans Hall at 2101 Ridge Road.
Tickets are $50. For more information or to buy tickets, contact Highland athletic director Steve Matney at (661) 872-2777.