Mart HC Kevin Hoffman discusses the Panther's motivation this season
Tuesday, 7th December 2021 - 9:17AM

Garrett Ross

For most high school football programs across the state of Texas, playing after Thanksgiving is a great accomplishment, but for some, it’s expected. Mart is one of those programs that is expected to play for a state championship year in and year out.

The Panthers had an opportunity to win their fourth consecutive state championship last season, but they fell to Windthorst 22-21 in the title game. Mart head coach Kevin Hoffman didn’t need to do much to motivate his team this season, as they hate losing.

“Losing is motivation enough. We HATE losing. The one point loss in the state championship game has been the driving force behind this year's team,” said Hoffman. “We had an opportunity to make it four in a row and came up short. There are constant reminders of that loss all over our weight room and locker rooms.”

That type of success can come at cost sometimes, as people on the outside tend to take Mart’s success for granted. It can also bring along unfair criticism regarding the outcomes of their victories.

“It's very difficult to make people happy with all the success we've had. People take it for granted that we're always going to win no matter what. If we win by 70, we're running the score up. If we win by 30, something must be wrong,” said Hoffman. “Our coaching staff and players have created this culture of not just winning, but winning at a different level and winning state championships or having the opportunity to win state championships every year. That is our mindset and we’ll never take winning for granted.”

Winning at a high level on a consistent basis can also intimidate other programs. Mart is one of a handful of programs across the state of Texas who have a difficult time finding non-district opponents who want to play them.

Coach Hoffman is no stranger to having to search long and hard for teams willing to step up and face the Panthers, but he knows that any team willing to line up against them will leave the field a better program as their season progresses.

“Finding opponents has always been difficult in Mart. Not sure what to tell other programs but give us a try,” said Hoffman. “We hope to push ourselves and our opponents and make each other better in the process.”

Mart is one of four Waco area programs who are actively competing in the state semifinals this season. Marlin, Lorena, and China Spring are all still in pursuit of a state championship. Coach Hoffman is excited to see the success of the other area programs and the culture that they’ve established.

“I just think about how awesome it's been for so many teams from Central Texas to still be playing in December,” said Hoffman. “It speaks highly of the players, coaches and programs that have put in all the hard work and created this WINNING culture.”

When Mart takes the field on Friday night, they will be doing so against a familiar foe, Falls City. The two programs will meet in the state semifinals for the fourth consecutive season this week, which is the state's longest active state semifinal streak.

Coach Hoffman knows that facing an opponent that many times consecutively will be a challenge, especially since the Panthers have won the three prior matchups.

“Falls City has a great program and have been successful for a long time at everything they do. Playing them for the fourth consecutive year will be quite a challenge,” said Hoffman. “We both know what each other is about and the style of football we want to play.”

Hoffman continued.

“Neither team has an advantage just because we are familiar with each other. Any team can beat the other at this time of year. There are four teams left and anyone of them is capable of winning the whole thing.”

#1 Mart (14-0, 7-0) and #6 Falls City (13-1, 6-0) will play for an opportunity to compete for the UIL 2A DII State Championship on Friday at 7:00pm at Wildcat Stadium in Elgin.
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