Martinsville football

New Martinsville football coach Bobby Martin.

Martin is a graduate of Laurel Park High School, and went on to play defensive end at Virginia Tech, where he graduated in 1985. Since leaving the Hokies, he’s coached at Franklin County, Bassett, Laurel Park, G.W.-Danville, and most recently at William Fleming High School in Roanoke, where he resigned in January of 2018 after five seasons and one playoff appearance.

Martin’s nephew, Orion Martin, coached the Bulldogs for four seasons before resigning in April 2017 to take a job in Washington D.C. Martinsville has been coached the last two seasons by Nathan Tanner, going 6-16 in those two years. The Bulldogs were 1-9 in 2018.

Tanner resigned in March to take a job at a high school in West Virginia.

Martin said he talked to Orion Martin a bit about what to expect coming in, but he didn’t want to hear too much from the Bulldogs’ former coach, so he could come in with a fresh mindset.

“We talked a little bit. I didn’t want to know everything,” Bobby Martin said. “Sometimes you have to put things behind you and move forward. We did talk some and one thing he said is, ‘those kids will work really hard. Push them, they’ll work really hard.’ So I’m looking forward to that. I don’t want to know everything because some things I want to find out on my own. Sometimes you start prejudging things, I don’t want to prejudge things.”

Martin spoke with the team for about 10 minutes, talking about bringing the Bulldogs back to prominence in the Piedmont District and the state. He talked about how his Laurel Park squad was the first to beat Martinsville in the 70s.

He also spoke about the need to get the numbers up on the roster. Martinsville struggled to field a team of more than 25 players last season.

“I’m not going to d a lot of looking back,” he said. “I’m trying to look forward. I think we need to build on getting numbers first. We’ve got to get some numbers out, and then just go from there.

“I want to build a family atmosphere first. That’s the first thing. Let them get to know me, make sure we build a family atmosphere and go from there.”

Martin will bring his son, Bobby “B.J.” Martin Jr., on as an assistant coach. The younger Martin played for his dad at G.W.-Danville, where he led the Eagles for 15 seasons.

Martin said he plans to retain as many of the Bulldogs’ current assistants as he can.

“It’s a great opportunity,” he said. “They say you can’t come home again, but I was born and raised here, I’ve been here my whole life. I’ve seen some of the greatest years of Martinsville Bulldogs, in basketball and football. It’s just an opportunity to come back home and hopefully help build more than just a football program and a team, we’ll build a whole community. That’s what we hope we can do.”

The VHSL allows football teams to begin practicing in earnest at the beginning of August. Martinsville’s football schedule for 2019 has not been released as of Wednesday.

Cara Cooper is a sports writer for the Martinsville Bulletin. She can be reached at

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