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First-year Gresham football coach Cesar Martinez receives ringing endorsement from former boss at Reynolds: ‘People just rally around him’

Martinez said he started coaching as a way to help kids avoid making the mistakes he made in his youth.
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By Dave Ball 

Dustin Janz was looking to round out his coaching staff at Reynolds in 2013. Across the desk sat Cesar Martinez, who mentioned wanting to be a head coach one day.

Janz assured Martinez that they would help him get there, and Janz signed Martinez up to coach the receivers and cornerbacks. 

Fast forward almost a decade, and Martinez is realizing his dream after being named head coach at Gresham last month. Janz, now the head coach at La Salle Prep, reunited with Martinez for a summer 7-on-7 session Thursday night.

“He loves kids,” Janz said. “He stays in touch with all these players from our past teams. He’s a great connector of people and it’s about making them successful in their lives, not just in football. People just rally around him.”

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The Gresham job opened when last season’s coach, former Oregon State standout James Allen, returned to New Orleans for family reasons after one season with the Gophers.

Martinez is familiar with Gresham’s program after serving as the team’s offensive coordinator last season and overseeing the team’s offseason workouts.

“You never stop learning, and I’ve picked up a lot from the coaches I’ve worked with along the way,” Martinez said. “But outside the Xs and Os, you have to connect with the kids — you have to show that you care about them off the field. Football is going to be fun, but you have to do the rest of it right, too. That means taking care of school and teaching them to be quality young men.” 

Martinez landed in coaching as a way to impact young lives and to teach life lessons. He grew up in Stockton, Calif., and didn’t play a down of high school football.

“I chose the wrong path at a young age, getting into trouble,” Martinez said. “Then I had my own children, and I wanted to give back. I didn’t want to see kids making the same mistakes.”

Martinez is in the early stages of setting a culture at Gresham, but he knows the style of play he wants to see on Friday nights.

“I don’t want to overthink it, and I don’t want my players overthinking things,” Martinez said. “I want them to read and react, fly around the field, play like they are brothers, and the wins will come.”

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Gophers also will have new boys basketball coach

Gresham is searching for a new varsity boys basketball coach after Erik Lyslo stepped away after six seasons to become the head coach at Portland Christian, where his children attend school.

“This is an opportunity I could not pass up. Family and raising my kids will always be the most important job in my life, and I’m excited for this new adventure,” Lyslo said.

Lyslo led the Gophers to the playoffs each of the past four seasons. 

“I am so happy with what we have built here at Gresham over the last six years, and I have no doubt that this is just the start of even greater success at Gresham,” Lyslo said. 

Erik Lyslo Gresham Dave Ball