The Illinois High School Football Coaches Association (IHSFCA) released its annual list of All-State players, even as the season continues into the playoff semifinals round, and two Highland Bulldogs we deservedly recognized for their own and their team’s spectacular seasons.
Highland senior quarterback Garrett Marti and junior wide receiver Sam LaPorta were named to the IHSFCA Class 4A All-State Football Team.
The duo have helped the Bulldogs go 12-0 and reach the Final Four of the Class 4A playoff and outscore their opponents 640-199. Highland has won by an average of nearly 37 points and its closest game was a 15-point margin over Triad.
The Mississippi Valley Conference champions head into the semifinal showdown with state power Rochester after shredding Herscher 77-47 last Saturday.
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“I wouldn’t have been able to get it without him and all the rest of my teammates so I thank them for that,” Marti said of receiving all-state honors. “It’s an amazing accomplishment not too many players at Highland have gotten and it means a lot to both of us but I think we would both say winning a state championship would mean a lot more so that is our goal. We’ve been working together since his freshman year so I think our biggest thing is chemistry and that’s the same with all the guys.”
Marti’s senior season has been by far the best of the three he’s started under center for the Bulldogs and he’s not finished yet. Marti has led the way by completing 67 percent of his 249 pass attempts for 3,051 yards, 42 touchdowns and just one interception. The 6-foot, 190-pound quarterback also has carried 85 times for 839 yards and another 11 scores. He’s completed six touchdown passes in each of the Bulldogs’ last two victories and 14 in the playoffs alone.
LaPorta already ranks as one of the top receivers in the St. Louis area. His 1,191 yards is the most in Southern Illinois and his 58 catches are third. He also an eye-popping 20 touchdown receptions. Last season, as a sophomore, he caught 50 passes for 857 yards. Another 1,000-yard season would make LaPorta one of the top five receivers in Illinois history. At 6-4, 210 pounds he’s already drawn the attention of NCAA Division-I programs.