The Portola Tigers’ varsity football team players gather one last time during the awards ceremony Dec. 13. The Northern Section Division IV champions had many awards to give out with such a talented team. Photos by James Wilson
Portola High School celebrated its athletes at an awards ceremony Dec. 13 in the school’s cafeteria. Awards were plentifully given to the Northern Section Division IV champion football team.
After everyone in attendance plated up their dinners from a bountiful selection of food, Tiffany Williams began the ceremony by presenting awards to the cheerleaders. Each cheerleader received a specially selected award based on individual personalities.
The junior varsity coaches then presented awards to their team. The Junior Tigers had a 3-6-1 season.
Portola’s varsity coach, Steve Heskett, then took the podium to hand out awards for the varsity team.
The team went the whole season undefeated until it matched up with Chester for the last game of league play. Though Chester beat Portola, the Tigers took their revenge in the section championship game, beating Chester 42-13.
It was no wonder that many of Portola’s players won all-league status in the Mountain Valley League. Eight of Portola’s players earned all-league awards for their extraordinary season.
Portola’s running back, Zack Martinez, won the division’s offensive MVP for the season. Martinez was injured during the championship and Portola’s Oscar Romero played running back for the remainder of the game.
“This player worked hard on and off the field,” said Heskett, praising Martinez. “He rushed over 1,600 yards and never got tired. His last carry of each game was just like his first.”
Martinez averaged 10.4 points per game during the 2012 season with 7.48 yards per carry. Martinez also averaged a remarkable 155.6 yards per game to mark him as an essential weapon in Portola’s offense.
“Getting this far was definitely worth (the time in) the weight room,” remarked Martinez. “I grew up playing with everyone here and this wouldn’t be possible without you all.”
Romero was the mainstay of Portola’s special teams. As the kicker, Romero consistently landed the ball within the opposing team’s 10-yard line during kick-offs and punts. Romero averaged 7.7 points per game, mainly through field goals and extra points.
When Romero took over for Martinez in the championship game, he rushed the remainder of the game and scored one touchdown to clinch the Tigers’ victory.
Klint Williams made the all-league team as both a running back and linebacker. Williams averaged 65 rushing yards per game.
Ricky Lowdermilk, the team’s quarterback, played an essential role in the success of the Tigers this season. Lowdermilk thought quickly on his feet and made the plays needed to build the team up.
“(Lowdermilk) has a 4.1 grade-point average and plays three sports every year,” commented Heskett. “It’s been a long time since we’ve had this caliber of player.”
During Portola’s game against Quincy, Lowdermilk threw 71 yards to connect with Martinez: the longest pass in the league this season. Lowdermilk averaged 87 passing yards per game and completed 50 percent of his passes.
Flint Fambrough helped make the Tigers the tough team that it is with his impressive defensive moves. Fambrough stopped his opponents like a brick wall, making an average of 5.4 tackles per game. Fambrough made 15 solo tackles and 54 total for the season.
Dakota Price helped Fambrough make Portola’s defense strong, contributing 10 solo tackles and 44 total tackles to the team. Patrick Steffanic averaged 3.8 tackles per game with five solo tackles and 34 total tackles.
Part of Lowdermilk’s success as a quarterback is due to his line. Tyler Stockdale played center and made sure no one got near Lowdermilk.
Part of what made the Tigers such an unstoppable team was its combination of talented players. Portola placed a talented player in every position of the team.
“I honestly couldn’t dream of a better group of players,” said Heskett. “These guys showed up every day and worked hard. I wish them all the best.”