Pandemic Delays Martellio’s Debut as Millis Grid CoachNov 28, 2020 01:27PM ● By Ken Hamway
Bob Martellio’s debut as Millis High’s new football coach normally would have occurred early in September, when the Mohawks would have kicked off their season. But, these aren’t normal times. The coronavirus pandemic has forced normalcy to take a back seat, so Martellio, who’s a 1989 graduate of Millis High, will have to wait until February when his debut will occur during the Fall 2 season. “I can only worry about what I can control,’’ said Martellio, who excelled in football and baseball at Millis. “I miss being on the sideline, but the top priority is ensuring the health and safety of everyone. The pandemic has changed many things, but I’ll be pleased to coach Millis’ football team starting in February. Our team will be prepared and ready.’’ The 49-year-old Martellio is no stranger to the Mohawks’ gridiron tradition. He competed for three years (1986-1988) and he was versatile, playing on the defensive line, at tight end and wide receiver. At 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds, he was a Tri Valley League all-star in football as a senior. He led Millis in sacks (8) and receptions (25), and he gained 280 yards receiving and scored three touchdowns. A captain in football and baseball as a senior, Martellio posted some impressive statistics on the diamond. A pitcher and outfielder for three years, he finished his junior year with a 6-2 record and a .400 batting average. He was a sophomore on Millis’ South Sectional title team in baseball. Hired in February, Martellio replaces Brian Kraby, who resigned to spend more time with his family. Martellio knows most of the players after serving as an assistant to Kraby last year. “I worked with both the offensive and defensive teams,’’ Martellio said, “and after being hired to replace Brian, I officially met all the prospective candidates.’’ Martellio, who has been a Millis assistant for three years, has some fundamental goals moving forward. “I want our players to understand their roles and the process,’’ he emphasized. “And, I want them to improve. If that’s achieved, everything else will take care of itself, and that includes being successful in the TVL Small Division and the playoffs.’’ With football likely returning for the Fall 2 season, Millis can count on some specific strengths. Only four seniors graduated from last year’s sub-.500 team, and Martellio will have some solid returnees. “We’ll have nine returnees on offense and defense,’’ he noted. “We’ve got skilled players and experience. We’re senior-laden, with 15 on the roster. I also like our team’s athleticism and its football IQ.’’ The captains include seniors Bryan Kane at quarterback, wide receiver/linebacker Talley Smith, guard/defensive end Buster Gagne, and Brian Nichols, a two-way back. “The captains are great leaders and students,’’ Martellio said. “They lead on and off the field, and they also lead by example and by being vocal. Bryan Kane and Talley Smith were captains as juniors.’’ Acutely aware that football is viewed as a high-risk sport by the MIAA and that modifications likely will be implemented because of the global virus, Martellio said: “We’ll play with whatever changes are made, and I hope they’ll be well thought out and thoroughly considered.’’ As he assesses the TVL Small Division teams, Martellio knows the challenges ahead will be tough. “The division has great talent and great coaching,’’ he said. “Every week, we’ll face a major challenge. Ashland won the Super Bowl last year, Medway has excellent history, Dedham is strong and Bellingham has lots of talent and is very athletic. We want to excel against the best and that’s the TVL Large and Small Division teams.’’ Martellio’s style will be flexible and depend primarily on his personnel. “We’ll adapt to our talent,’’ he emphasized. “If our line is big, we’ll run and if we have speed, we’ll throw. We want to be fundamentally sound in all three phases of the game. Whether we run or throw the ball, it’ll depend on the players. We want to be victorious, even if it’s by one point.’’ A resident of Uxbridge, Martellio is married and the father of a son and daughter. Besides coaching as an assistant at Millis and one season at Medway, he coached youth football for seven years in the Uxbridge-Northbridge program. An alumnus of Millis High, Martellio has high praise for the coaches who helped him to develop into a top-notch studentathlete. “I admired football coaches like Ernie Richards and Dave Sperandio, and Billy Lagos was a fine baseball coach,’’ he said. “I want Millis football fans and parents of players to know that I’m honored to coach their kids. I want to build on the Millis football tradition by coaching blue-collar, hard-nosed kids.’’ Martellio will no doubt get solid support and advice from Millis Athletic Director Chuck Grant, who previously guided Walpole High to a pair of Super Bowl crowns. “Chuck is a great resource,’’ Martellio noted. “He’s got a wealth of knowledge, and he’s been very supportive.’’ The Mohawks new coach has plenty of experience in football that should lead to success for the program. His philosophical outlook speaks volumes about his approach. “I want our players to understand the process,’’ he said. “I want to prepare them to overcome adversity and know what it takes to flourish as a teammate. I want them to have fun competing and to win both on and off the field. Football does teach life lessons.’’ Bob Martellio truly has a firm grip on perspective.