It had been awhile since Drake Martinez had gone into game mode.
For the past few weeks, the recently-graduated Laguna Beach High athlete has been logging practice time at both Estancia and Corona del Mar, putting in his final hours as a prep football player. That career, and what a career it has been, will culminate Friday when he plays for the South in the Brea Lions Club Orange County North-South Prep All-Star Football Game.
The 54th annual event kicks off at 7:15 p.m. at Orange Coast College's LeBard Stadium.
Friday marks the second all-star football game since the start of the year for Martinez who graduated from Laguna Beach on June 20. In February, he played in the Canyon-Coast Classic. That annual all-star game puts 32 prep players from Arizona against 32 players from California's Southern, Los Angeles City and San Diego sections.
The Orange County All-Star Game presents Martinez the opportunity to play one final prep game in the county before he takes his game, and studies, to the University of Nebraska.
"I thought this game would be a good opportunity for me to get in some football before I leave," Martinez said. "It's been a great experience so far. [The South has] great team speed."
Martinez is a big part of that speed package the South possesses. He had re-written the Laguna Beach High football book in several categories, and his play on the field, both in the offensive and defensive backfields, has left lasting impressions.
South Coach Scott Meyer knows well of the talented Martinez. Meyer, the head coach at Corona del Mar, saw Martinez up close and personal last year when his Sea Kings met the Breakers in the semifinals of the 2011 CIF Southern Section Southern Division playoffs.
Martinez, the Orange Coast League's 2012 football MVP and a 2012 All-CIF Southern Section Southern Division selection, is listed on the South roster as a defensive back, but Meyer said the 19-year-old also will see time in the offensive backfield.
"I sure do remember him," Meyer said. "He was impressive then, and he's been really impressive this year. Drake is really athletic and is big and physical. He can do so much. He flies around and covers so much ground at defensive back. He's going to get some carries on offense, too."
Martinez will add a big dimension to the spread offense that Meyer, who favored the scheme at Corona del Mar, has implemented for the South.
Among the many football records that Martinez has established at Laguna Beach High are: career rushing yards (3,533), career rushing yards per carry (9.7), career scoring (394 points); career touchdowns (65), career rushing touchdowns (50), career touchdowns, 50 or more yards (19), and interception returns for touchdown (four).
"It is a big honor to be chosen in this all-star game," said Laguna Beach Athletic Director Mike Churchill who coached Martinez on the football field the past two years. "It isn't very often that someone from Laguna Beach High School gets to showcase their football talents but I am sure that Drake will do very well.
"Drake was recruited as a defensive back by Nebraska and has all those qualities that the good players need. He has led our team in tackles the last two years, interceptions and defensive touchdowns while playing almost every minute of the game. He just makes things happen. Drake says that he is also going to play offense and that will be a real treat for the county football fans to see."
Martinez, who said he was recruited as a safety by Nebraska, said he also was recruited by Tennessee, Vanderbilt, UCLA, USC and Michigan St.
His older brother, Taylor, is the Cornhuskers' returning starting quarterback and is entering his senior year.
Martinez said he had decided to himself early on, that, if offered, he would later play at Nebraska.
"During my eighth-grade year, when my brother [Taylor] was a senior, [Nebraska] Coach [Bo] Pelini came to our home to visit Taylor. I really liked him," he said.
Martinez made his decision official when he announced in late-January that he would play for the Cornhuskers. He said that Pelini has said that he can wear jersey No. 36, the same number he wore during his Laguna Beach playing days.
"Some coaches never get a chance to have a player of the first quality," Churchill added. "I feel real lucky to have had the opportunity to coach Drake and the other football players at Laguna Beach these last two years. Drake's example made us better every day. His best football days are ahead of him."