Tyjon Lindsey’s route against Santa Margarita (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.) last season was supposed to be a short one.
Lindsey, then a sophomore wide receiver for Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas), was tightly covered by the defensive back and another defender was in the vicinity, so Gaels quarterback Tate Martell bought a ridiculously long 10 seconds by scrambling right, then left. Lindsey, watching his friend, saw the defenders were beginning to move in and he made a subtle signal with his left hand.
“It was supposed to be a 5-yard hitch, but Tate started scrambling and I started to sneak back a little,” Lindsey said. Martell’s 45-yard heave, thrown from his own 10-yard line, a good 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage, was hauled in by Lindsey at Santa Margarita’s 45 and he ran it in for an 80-yard touchdown catch.
A lot of receivers and their quarterbacks have a tight connection, but the one Martell and Lindsey have is tighter than most. In the first game the two played together, as eighth-grade all-stars in Southern California, Martell hooked up with Lindsey for three touchdown passes. The two have lived under the same roof since Martell’s parents, Al and Tafi, became Lindsey’s legal guardians before his and Martell’s freshman seasons at Poway, Calif. As sophomores last season, they transferred to Bishop Gorman and the Gaels haven’t lost a game since. The Gaels host Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.) Friday night.
“It’s funny because we know each other so well,” Martell said. “I’m with him almost all the time. We have the same friends and everything so we hang out quite a bit even when we’re not home. And then on the field obviously he’s one of the best kids on the field. … It’s just easy to give him the ball. Our timing is down for every play. There’s not a route that he can tell me that I probably can’t complete the ball to him.”
The pair of first-team all-state players has helped lead Bishop Gorman to an 8-0 start and the No. 1 spot in the Super 25 rankings. Martell has thrown for 1,330 yards and 16 touchdowns and Lindsey is the team’s leading receiver with 22 catches for 532 yards (an average of 24.2 yards per catch) and seven touchdowns.
“You could really (see the chemistry) last year when they showed up and they started playing together,” Bishop Gorman coach Kenny Sanchez said. “Here’s the deal. Tyjon caught a lot of balls last year from Tate, right, and people would say, you know, ‘They’ve got good chemistry’ but Tyjon is maybe the best skilled player in the Western region. If they didn’t even know each other, if they weren’t friends, they’re still going to hook up because Tyjon is that good. … Now, them knowing each other, yeah, you’re always going to have chemistry with a good friend. So I think that helps. I think that helps when Tate starts to scramble, Tyjon kind of understands where Tate’s going to end up or start to look so he can kind of break his route off and kind of get to a place where Tate might be familiar with him running.”
Off the field, the two are similarly close.
“Tate likes to play Madden, but I’m just there so he can beat me, because I’m really not that good at it,” Lindsey said. “If we’re not at home, we’re probably going to the gym or just hanging out, going to the movies or something like that. Tate is pretty good in basketball. He’s actually better than me in that, but he doesn’t run track, so therefore, I would say I am better in track.”
Martell has committed to Texas A&M and Lindsey is uncommitted. They traveled together for an unofficial visit to College Station to see the Aggies play Alabama last weekend. While Martell would love to keep playing with Lindsey, package deals are rare in college football and Lindsey said he’s a long way from deciding on a school.
“Yeah, there’s not too many kids that plan to go together,” Martell said. “I think it would just be an easy thing. Especially going to college and having somebody that you know, and obviously having him on the field never hurts and it would benefit the school and obviously we’ll benefit each other, playing with each other even longer.”
While Lindsey has more speed, both players can get a lot done with their legs. Martell is the team’s third-leading rusher and has run for 321 yards and five touchdowns this season. Though Lindsey is only 5-9, his 4.55 time in the 40 makes him dangerous as a receiver or as a returner.
“No one comes in talking about his height or anything like that but his quickness, his speed, and his ability to change directions while keeping maximum speed,” Sanchez said. “A lot of guys might be faster going forward, but he can go left to right and keep the same speed, which is very rare.”
Lindsey said that the heat from the desert around Las Vegas and the figurative heat from the coaches at Bishop Gorman has improved the pair.
“Being here has made us better than we were,” Lindsey said. “The biggest difference here is the talent and the way the coaches here have pushed us.”