Most of the players chosen for the Ravens' high school Quarterback Challenge have a few weeks to prepare, but Hammond's Tyler Martin doesn’t mind being a late substitution for this Sunday's challenge at halftime of the Ravens-Bengals game.
“It’s awesome,” Martin said. “When coach (Justin Carey) called me up and told me, I was shocked. There’s going to be a lot of people there and it’s a great opportunity.”
Martin, a senior, will square off against Robbie Payne, a junior from Huntingtown in Calvert County. Payne's Hurricanes are 8-1 and headed to the playoffs in Class 3A South while Hammond is 6-3 and headed to the playoffs in Class 2A South.
Last month, Martin grabbed headlines when he threw for 441 yards and six touchdowns to lead the Bears to a 47-38 upset of Howard County rival River Hill that ended the Hawks’ 30-game winning streak. In a strange twist of fate, Huntingtown four years ago ended a River Hill winning streak of 40 games in a Class 3A state semifinal.
In the QB Challenge at halftime of the Ravens-Bengals game, Martin and Payne will be tested for accuracy. They will aim for drop-in nets placed at the 15-, 30- and 45-yard lines and each quarterback will make three throws. Points are awarded based on distance, and the quarterbacks can throw into any net they’d like. If neither has a lead after that, a long toss will decide the winner.
In preseason, Martin and his Bears teammate Andrew Comeau helped Howard County Times sports reporters Brent Kennedy and Andrew Conrad with a Sports Breakdown video about how to play quarterback. The four staged their own accuracy competition, a bit of a harbinger of things to come for Martin. (Click here to watch the video.)
“We had to throw a ball into lacrosse nets from about the same distances (as those in the QB Challenge) and that actually went pretty well,” said Martin, who won the competition. “We threw from 15, 25, 35 and 45.”
Should he and Payne come down to the long-toss tiebreaker, Martin estimated he could throw between 55 and 60 yards. He threw a completed pass this season that went 55 yards in the air.
Martin, whose Bears play their final regular-season game Friday night at Centennial, wants to play football in college and has drawn interest from Division II and Division III schools.
A Ravens fan, he attends a game or two each season but has never seen the QB Challenge. Most of the quarterbacks paired for the Challenge are high school rivals who've known each other for a while, but Martin and Payne have never met.
A quarterback since he was 9 years old, Martin said this competition will probably be the most pressure he's faced – even more than lining up against River Hill, a team he has beaten twice in three years.
“I think throwing in front of 70,000 fans will be more pressure,” he said. “I love playing River Hill every year, so I’m not really pressured when I play them. It’s more fun for me, but I don’t think I’ve been in front of a crowd this big before.”
Still if he didn’t like pressure, he wouldn’t be a quarterback.
“I like the freedom I have, the decisions I get to make and the responsibilities I have on the team. I like how its either I shine or it’s all my fault. I like taking responsibility for that.”