Rick O'Brien: They're teammates and housemates

"He's been amazing so far," Council Rock North QB Brandon McIlwain (left) said of Dejuan Martin, who is living with the McIlwain family.
"He's been amazing so far," Council Rock North QB Brandon McIlwain (left) said of Dejuan Martin, who is living with the McIlwain family.
Posted: September 20, 2013

Dejuan Martin has made quite an impact for Council Rock North's football team since he moved to Bucks County from Scarborough, Ontario, in June.

Monday night at Walt Snyder Stadium, in a 56-26 nonleague romp over visiting Hatboro-Horsham, the speedster returned the opening kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown and added a 72-yard scoring reception.

"He's been amazing so far," Indians quarterback Brandon McIlwain said. "He's very athletic, makes big plays. It's great to have him on the team."

Martin, a 5-foot-9, 160-pound senior wide receiver and kick returner, is living with McIlwain and his family in Newtown.

The reason for Martin's move from Canada to the United States - and his family's connection to the McIlwains - is unclear.

"It's really personal," said Martin, who last season played football at Scarborough's Agincourt Collegiate Institute. "I'd rather not talk about it."

Added McIlwain, a 6-1, 200-pound sophomore and Division I-A prospect: "It's not something we like to talk about. It's kept between the families."

Martin, who clocked a handheld 4.39 seconds in the 40-yard dash over the summer, did say, "It was really hard for me to leave my family and friends behind, but this is a good opportunity for me both academically and athletically."

In C.R. North's opener this season, Martin sparked a 36-7 romp over visiting Haverford High with three scores: a 75-yard run, 77-yard reception, and 71-yard burst.

Eight family members, including parents Douglas and Tamara, made the nine-hour drive from Canada to watch him play his first game in the United States.

"To have them here for that was great," Dejuan Martin said. "I was so thankful they were able to make it."

Martin has had to adjust to U.S. football rules. In preseason drills, the receiver, in what is widely seen in the Canadian Football League, sometimes went in motion behind the line of scrimmage and took a running start before the snap.

"It took him most of training camp to learn that he couldn't go in forward motion," said Indians coach Adam Collachi, whose squad will take a 3-0 record into Friday night's Suburban One League National Conference opener against visiting Abington.

In Scarborough, Martin, who missed most of his sophomore season because of a broken arm, was a 45-minute drive from the Rogers Centre, home of the CFL's Toronto Argonauts.

"Growing up, I watched NFL games more than anything else," the 17-year-old said. "My favorite wide receiver is Steve Smith, of the Carolina Panthers. I also like [St. Louis Rams wideout] Tavon Austin a lot."

Martin said the McIlwains - Roddy and Lena (Martin calls her "Momma Mac"); Brandon, 15; Alaina, 10; and Alexis, 7 - have made him "feel like another member of the family."

Three years ago, the McIlwains - Roddy is national sales director for a pharmaceutical company - moved back to Pennsylvania from San Ramon, Calif. They previously lived in Boothwyn, Delaware County.

"I love them," Martin said. "They're great people. They've treated me so well. I can't thank them enough. I've been blessed."

Extra points. Council Rock North is 3-0 for the first time since 2006. That year, the Indians, under Mike Ortman, won their first 10 games before losing to Abington, 21-20, in the first round of the 16-team PIAA District 1 Class AAAA playoffs. . . . C.R. North's Tyler Callender, a senior running back and defensive lineman, is likely out for the season with sprained ligaments in his left foot. He was injured in the third quarter of a Week 2 victory at Northeast.

West Catholic's Craig Jones, an up-and-coming sophomore cornerback and receiver, suffered a knee injury while fielding a rolling punt in last Friday's 30-17 nonleague win over Bonner-Prendergast. An MRI performed Tuesday will be read by doctors Friday. . . . Before Strath Haven hosts Haverford High at 7 p.m. Friday, there will be a dedication ceremony for King Field's new turf surface.

In a game switched from Friday, West Catholic, 3-0 and ranked No. 16 in Southeastern Pennsylvania by The Inquirer, will play No. 4 Archbishop Wood (3-0) at 7 p.m. Saturday at William Tennent. Another 7 p.m. Saturday goody has No. 11 Malvern Prep (2-0) taking on No. 6 La Salle (3-0) at Plymouth Whitemarsh.

Contact Rick O'Brien

at robrien@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @ozoneinq. Read his blog, "The O'Zone," at www.inquirer.com/ozone

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