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Caden Ochoa: Driller Football Star Keeping the Fame to the Driller and Rebel Name

 


Caden Ochoa of Bakersfield High School (Class of 2018) and Troy Ochoa of South High School (Class of 1994)

 

By Kyle Wylie, Coordinator of School Support Services, KHSD


In fall of 1993, the Bakersfield High School Driller football team returned nine starters, went on a thirteen game winning streak, won the South Yosemite League, and almost completed the season with a dramatic victory over Clovis West in the Valley Championship, but fell just short. (It should be the noted that the 1993 Clovis West football team is arguably considered by many in the Central Valley as the greatest football team ever.) Despite the inability to capture another Driller Valley Championship, the team would go down as a historic team with a roster of Kern County legends: Larry Parker, Chris Cervantes, Andy Diaz, Kenny Calvin, Charles Woolfolk, Mario Delfino, Jason Henry, Kevin Frye, Jeremy Staat, and Steve Wofford. Each player mentioned would be selected as 1st Team All League in the South Yosemite League with the most dynamic of the bunch being junior Steve Wofford. Wofford was selected as the Junior of the Year for the State of California and would eventually finish his career with 7,100 yards rushing, which, at the time in 1994, was most ever by a California high school running back. According to former BHS quarterback, local football historian, teacher at East Bakersfield High School,  and author of Friday Night Heroes: 100 Years of Driller Football, Rick Van Horne, six players from BHS would play professional football at one level or another and nine Drillers were selected to The Bakersfield Californian All Area First Team out of a possible ten. (Brian Walker as selected to both punter & kicker.) Wofford along with Jeremy Staat shared The Bakersfield Californian All Area Player of the Year honors with the lone non Driller on the team.

 

Steve Wofford, finished his career at Bakersfield High School with 7,100 yards rushing.


Who was that lone non Driller?


Down the street on Planz Road, a senior was having a remarkable year for the South High Rebels in the fall of 1993. His name - Troy Ochoa. As a former Athletic Director at South High School, I remember the name Troy Ochoa being synonymous with South High School and the stories of him playing football were so fascinating and almost God like, that they seemed to fit amongst the classic mythical tales of such greats like Bo Jackson and Herschel Walker. I have heard stories where Troy Ochoa (have to say both names as does everyone that knows him) scramble from his quarterback position and take on the entire Highland High School defense, refusing to go the ground, then a Highland defender ripped his helmet off, and Troy Ochoa continued to rush for more yardage without a helmet. Troy Ochoa was a combination quarterback, that was extremely gifted as both runner and thrower. More impressive, was that when defense rolled around, he didn’t come off the field as he also started at inside linebacker. “I could never understand why anyone would practice the whole week to just play half a game. I never wanted to leave the field, I practiced to play the whole game,” stated Troy Ochoa, who looks like he could suit up and play in the NFL today and only missed time during each game when kickoff and kick return came around. A redundant theme of the Troy Ochoa stories was his toughness and competitiveness. Troy Ochoa would literally play every play like it was his last play and did everything in his power to win. Troy Ochoa was afraid of no one and I am sure that if you mention his name in Kern County football circles, they would echo those same sentiments.

 

Troy Ochoa was the 1993 Bakersfield Californian All Area Player of the Year.

He started at Quarterback and Middle Linebacker for the South High Rebels


Former head Football Coach for the South High Rebels, Steve Faulk states, “Troy Ochoa is the toughest football player that I have ever been around. No one messed with him.” The late John Wren, who coached Troy Ochoa as a position coach, often stated that Troy Ochoa was in his top three all time favorite players that he had ever coached mainly because of his toughness and his desire to win at all costs. Ned Permenter, who was the Head Coach at Foothill High School from 1965-2001 states, “Troy Ochoa was in the top ten greatest football players that I witnessed as a coach. He didn’t have the greatest arm that I have seen and he wasn’t the best running back, but his toughness and desire to win allowed him to be great and impossible to game plan for.”  For the 1993 season, Troy Ochoa finished just over 1,000 yards rushing and just under 2,000 yards passing as well as leading the Rebel defense to some impressive performances and a 7-3 overall record. “We finished 7-3 with Troy Ochoa carrying our team. Without him, that record might have been reversed. He had that much of an impact on our team,” continued Faulk.  


I first met Troy Ochoa as a teacher and football coach at South High School starting in 2007 and continued to get to know him as I became the Athletic Director. Troy Ochoa came to South High football games to support his school as well as his longtime friend, mentor, and former coach, John Wren. Troy Ochoa’s busy work schedule never allowed him to be a full time coach, but he was a generous financial supporter of the Rebel football program and was there to BBQ for players once a year after the annual intrasquad scrimmage. Every Friday night, Troy Ochoa would would be there to encourage the Rebels.

Even today, Troy Ochoa still supports the South High Rebel Football Program.


He also brought along someone every time the Rebels played - Caden Ochoa - his son. Caden served as the Rebels ball boy and seemed to just fall in love with the game of football. The South High coaching staff used to watch Caden run around the football field playing catch with his dad and many coaches would say such sentiments as, “If Caden ends up being half as good as his dad, he is going to be a special player.”


Well, Caden Ochoa has established himself as a special player at Bakersfield High School and like his father, he is a dynamic player who rarely leaves the field. “Caden has an exceptionally high football IQ, high energy, and the ability to play a number of positions. I have put him at corner, safety, linebacker, running back, wide receiver, and quarterback because he knows every position,” stated Head Coach Paul Golla at Bakersfield High School, “Caden processes the game in slow motion and is able to make quick and decisive decisions on the field. Caden has a passion for the game that can’t be matched because there are times in which we have to call timeout and literally force him out of the game.”


Caden had some impressive individual statistics displaying his versatility: 16-32 for 460 yards with 4TDs to only 1 INT as QB (in an option based offense); 70 carries for 498 yards rushing and 5 TDs; 2 receptions for 21 yards, 1 INT on defense that was returned 45 yards for a TD against Chamanade, and 3 sacks at various positions on defense. Because of his wits and his versatility on the field, Caden was selected to the SWYL 1st Team All League as Quarterback and BVarsity All Area 2nd Team as a Defensive Back.

 

Caden Ochoa of Bakersfield High School has established himself as an intelligent and versatile force for the Drillers. (Photo by Nick Ellis and used with his permission.)


Beyond stats and individual accolades, Caden remains grounded in winning each and every day as well as working hard. “At Bakersfield High School we follow the motto ‘Win the Day’. We all have the desire to win Valley and a State Championship, but we can’t do that if we don’t win today,” states Caden Ochoa, “We have to work harder than any other school. We can’t walk in and just expect to win because teams are going to give us their best shot because we are the Drillers.”


Moreover, thoughts of the crushing defeat at the hands of Del Oro in the 2016 Regional Bowl game are still fresh on Caden’s mind. “There are two moments that I won’t forget about last year. One, I won’t forget the excitement of winning a Valley Championship game, but I won’t forget the feeling of defeat against Del Oro. Our goal is to win each day as it comes, so that we can bring another State Championship to Bakersfield High School.”


For Troy Ochoa, he couldn’t be more proud of Caden. “It has been a joy seeing Caden grow, especially as a leader on the football field. He always makes sure that people are in the right position to be successful and to me, his attention to being the best teammate is what I admire the most. Caden has a good head on his shoulders and he has managed to stay humble in the midst of success.” Coach Golla indicated that Caden was voted by his teammates to be a Team Captain for the 2017 season.

 

When asked what side of the ball Troy and Caden Ochoa preferred to play on, the answer was interesting. Troy said, “Offense.” and Caden said, “Defense.” When asked who was stronger, Caden jumped in and said, “Me,” and Troy smiled and rolled his eyes stating, “I’ll let him think that.”

 

Caden Ochoa has grown as a leader for the Drillers and was voted by his teammates as Team Captain.


Oh yeah, remember that legendary running back at Bakersfield High School that was mentioned earlier named Steve Wofford? He is Caden Ochoa’s uncle as Troy Ochoa married Steve Wofford’s sister Krishna. “Uncle Steve meets with me every week and tells me good job for one second, but then he keeps me focused on the next game,” said Caden. Wofford says about Caden, “Caden is a good leader that is motivated with an incredible drive and work ethic. Since he has received offers to play at the Air Force Academy, University of Nevada, and Cal Poly SLO, he has taken his off season workouts to the next level. I am probably the hardest on him because I want him to stay focused on the next task at hand and Caden had responded extremely well to my hard coaching. Moreover, Caden is always competing and he hates losing, which essentially adds to his relentless drive and preparation. Whether it is practice or a game, he hates losing.”

 

In 1993, Steve Wofford would share All Area Player of the Year honors with Troy Ochoa.

Wofford and Ochoa are now brother in laws and are Caden Ochoa's uncle and father.


When asked about Troy Ochoa and his playing days at South High School, Steve Wofford said, “Troy did it all for the South High Rebels. He elevated everyone on that team because they weren’t loaded with the talent that we had at BHS in 1993, but his energy and passion led the Rebels to a lot of victories. He was one of the toughest players that I have ever been around from our days in Jack Frost to competing against him in high school, Troy was tough. Caden has that same attitude as his father.”


Caden Ochoa is following in the footsteps of his father and uncle towards the path of Kern County greats in football. “When Caden was little, he tried to negotiate playing two years at South and two years at BHS because of Steve and I,” said Troy Ochoa. However, he doesn’t want to be remembered as Troy Ochoa’s son or Steve Wofford’s nephew. He wants to be remembered for the great things that Caden Ochoa has done. On a trip to the University of Nevada, Caden was asked if he was the next Asauni Rufus (2013 State Champion BHS QB) to which he said, “No, I’m the next Caden Ochoa.”


Legendary Coach Paul Briggs often remarked to Driller players and coaches, “Keep the fame in the Driller name.” In the Fall of 1993, Steve Wofford and Troy Ochoa became football legends in Kern County as they shared All Area Player of the Year Honors. Caden Ochoa has aspirations of his own, “For my team this year, the ultimate goal is to win each day which results in a State Championship. Individually, it would be nice to share in the legacy of my dad and uncle and be All Area Player of the Year.” For Caden Ochoa, he is keeping the fame in the Driller and the Rebel name.  

 

  

Caden Ochoa of Bakersfield High School Highlight Video 2016

(Video Created by Caden Ochoa)

 

 

Troy Ochoa of South High School 6 TD game vs Foothill High School (1993)

 

 

1993 Bakersfield High School Drillers through Hometown Sports Highlights