Fast ‘Cat: Zupan uses his speed well for Fruita
Growing up outside of the United States, Martin Zupan always wanted a chance to play football.
Zupan was born in Texas, but his father’s job in the oil business took him around the world.
The Fruita Monument High School senior spent 11 years playing a variety of sports — mostly soccer — in places like Quito, Ecuador; Lima, Peru; and Muscat, Oman.
When Zupan arrived in Fruita before his freshman year, he finally had a chance to play American football.
“I always thought if we came back to the States, I would try football,” Zupan said. “My dad played high school football, so it always interested me.”
Zupan’s athletic skill set is perfectly set up for football. At 5-foot-8, 165 pounds, Zupan is one of the fastest players in the Southwestern League.
Need proof? Zupan ran the 100-meter dash in 11.18 seconds during last year’s track season.
“I was watching track and saw Martin run,” first-year Fruita Monument football coach Shawn Marsh said. “I didn’t know any of the kids, but I saw he could run really well.
“When a kid has an Accutrack 100 time, that’s a really good way to check speed.”
In the Wildcats’ spread offense, Zupan plays the H wide receiver, a position in which a player needs to be versatile. Zupan is used in running plays to get to the edge, as well as catching quick passes.
Marsh said Zupan is a perfect fit for his offense.
“When you have athletic kids, you need to get them the ball, and get it to them in space,” Marsh said. “When there is a kid like Martin, I need to make sure I have a game plan where I have a lot of good ways to get Martin the ball.”
So far Zupan has been heavily involved, with 88 yards on 17 catches and 10 rushes for 65 yards. Zupan is also serving as the Wildcats’ return man on kickoffs.
“Speed has always been a big part of my game,” Zupan said. “I rely on it a lot just to move around and get into open spaces quickly. It’s always helped me a lot in any sport I’ve done.”
His speed was a benefit on the soccer field, a place Zupan missed last year. After two years of football, Zupan spent last fall on the soccer pitch.
“I was missing it and I felt like I wanted to play one more year,” Zupan said. “But then we lost our coaching staff in soccer and we gained new coaches in football, so I figured I’d go back and play football.”
Fruita Monument quarterback Zach Thorpe said he was excited Zupan returned to the gridiron for his senior season.
“Martin is a dual-threat player,” Thorpe said. “He’s got speed, he’s got hands, he’s got shifty moves, so it’s always exciting once he gets the ball.”
Zupan and the Wildcats have a big challenge this week by taking on No. 4 Regis. Despite the 0-3 start, Zupan said the Wildcats are making strides.
“We are on the right track,” Zupan said. “We’ve been working hard at practice every day and every day we’ve improved.”