CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Class A teams in West Virginia face a tall order when they go up against Madonna.
A very, very tall order.
Forget the facts that the Blue Dons are 9-0, ranked No. 1 in their class and have played in the state championship game three of the previous five years.
No, we're talking about the guy who lines up at right tackle on the offensive line for Madonna and at nose guard on the defensive front.
That would be senior Josh Martin, who is nearly 7-foot-1 and weighs 290 pounds, and towers over everyone on the football field, especially at the Class A level.
"I get a lot of people staring at me,'' Martin said. "I'm standing there shaking hands after games and the cheerleaders will be staring at me and saying, 'Oh, my God. He's huge!' It's pretty funny to hear.''
But make no mistake, Martin isn't a carnival sideshow or a basketball player trying to stay in shape during the fall. He's a solid football player.
Last year, Martin was selected to the all-state second team as an offensive lineman and will certainly be bucking for first-team honors this season.
"Height hasn't been a problem for him,'' said Blue Dons coach Doug Taylor. "He has an awful long wingspan and he does a good job of getting that reach block, that zone block off the edge because he's got a long body.
"The only problem is his pad level, trying to get under guys who are a lot shorter. But he seems to be able to make up for it with his aggressiveness. He just flat overpowers guys.''
Both coach and player admit that Martin had to grow into his role as a football player, and that it didn't come easily at first.
"When he first came out,'' Taylor said, "he didn't have real good footwork, so we worked with him in the offseason. Even playing basketball helped him because in getting up and down the floor, his footwork got better.''
Martin credits Madonna assistant coach P.J. Good with helping his development.
"He taught me how to use leverage,'' Martin said, "and I started to use it last year and began to understand it. I think I have pretty good leverage now against all sizes, all types of guys.''
Despite his enormous height, Martin didn't always start and didn't play both ways consistently until this season.