Proud parents Esther and Michael pose with their son, Patrick Duffy at parents night of a football game.
Patrick Duffy was a member of the 1993 undefeated CIF championship season.

Thanks For The Memories, Tehachapi;
Duffy and Shea Share Their 10 Favorite Moments

Posted by Tom Shea and Michael Duffy, The Tehachapi News, on November 24, 2014

It has been a fun ride covering Tehachapi athletics over the years.

This issue will mark the last time that the both of us will write and take photos full-time for the Tehachapi News.

We will still be around helping in various capacities, Duffy with his team pictures and Shea with his help with the tennis team, football stats and game announcing with the basketball and volleyball teams.

To mark the end of our full-time, week-to-week submissions, we wanted to share our 10 favorite moments covering sports.

Thank you everyone for reading. It has been a pleasure covering athletics for our great town.

1992 -- Michael Duffy --

Crossing paths with standout NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick. In the nineties, I made several trips to Bakersfield to cover local racers Ray Cotta and Gene Fife, who drove stock cars at Mesa Marin. Both Tehachapi drivers had their share of thrills and spills and each won a track championship, Cotta in 1991 and Fife in 1992, but the strange thing was they were driving on the same track as an upstart 17-year old who would become the 2014 NASCAR Champion, Kevin Harvick. The young phenom had to compete on a special permit since he was under the age of 18 and was not even allowed in the pits. It was common belief back then that Harvick was a driver to watch as he was "Going places."

1997 -- Michael Duffy --

The Great Race comes to Tehachapi. While not really a sporting event, the 1997 Great Race had a fantastic name and drew my attention and camera to the brightly painted retro cars racing through Tehachapi. I set up on Tehachapi Woodford Road near the entrance to the Keene Ranch and got some great photos of nostalgic autos as they rumbled up the hill to a scheduled pit stop.

Standout offensive lineman Chris Denman (left) poses for a photo with his dad Steve Denman. Chris went on to
become the first Tehachapi football player in school history to be drafted by the NFL, taken 214th overall in 2007.

2001 through 2007 -- Michael Duffy --

After high school, Chris Denman shines at Fresno State and the NFL. Watching players like Chris Denman, Rodney Michael, Michael Hall and Drew Howell have prosperous years as Warriors and go on to shine in the college ranks, eventually getting a shot with NFL teams, was a big highlight. Especially Chris Denman, son of our long time coach, Steve Denman. Chris was a 2002 THS grad and went on to become the first Warrior to be drafted in the NFL, going in the seventh round in the 2007 NFL draft (214 overall) and selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Denman was an All-Western Athletic Conference selection at Fresno State and anchored what many consider to be one of the best offensive lines in school history, helping the Bulldogs to a total yardage mark that was as high as fifth in the nation.

2003 -- Michael Duffy --

X Games comes to Tehachapi. Stallion Springs was site of the X Games which drew thousands of visitors. Fans and the world-wide media in 2003. Using the Woodward West campus for skateboard and inline skating as well as BMX events like the half pipe and City Streets venue. Equally attended and a testament to the Games organizers the hill below the St. Springs Lodge was transformed in to the BMX downhill.

2007 -- Tom Shea --

Cagers upset Division III bracket to win the CIF Title at Selland Arena. When Tehachapi men's basketball entered the playoffs, they were not even a blip on the radar as a title contender. THS entered as the No. 6 seed after losing their final regular season home game to BCHS and finishing second place in the SSL to undefeated Shafter. However, despite the disappointing regular season, the Warriors believed that they were poised for a special run, highlighted by an opening round playoff victory over basketball nemesis, Washington Union. The Warriors defeated the Panthers in convincing fashion, 73-42 in a Saturday afternoon contest. Mountain Basketball went on to outscore their post-season opponents by an average of almost 21 points per game, capping their journey with a CIF title victory over Hanford West at Selland Arena in Fresno and earn a berth in the prestigious CIF state playoffs. It was a special moment when the Warriors gathered for post-game interviews and award presentations after winning CIF in Fresno. THS raised the section trophy for the first time since 1952, when Tehachapi last won a valley title in basketball under then-coach John Goodell. What a team this was. Just a plethora of talent, led by the Rombouts brothers (Jacob and Matt), the best guard duo in school history (Paul Walker and Vincent Saavedra), a young Bert Hall and speedy wingman Franky Rodriguez.

Lady Warrior basketball coaches Dennis Ruggles (middle) and Bill Carll (far right) coach their team during a timeout
of an SSL contest. Coach Ruggles and Coach Carll are two of the best coaches in girls basketball history, guiding Tehachapi to
five consecutive league championships from 2004 to 2008.

2004 to 2008 -- Tom Shea --

Lady Warrior Basketball wins five-straight SSL titles led by Coach Carll and Coach Ruggles. We have a lot of great coaches in Tehachapi, but two of the best in my mind are Bill Carll and Dennis Ruggles. To this day, Coach Carll and Coach Ruggles are still long-time assistants on Steve Denman's football team (Coach Carll has coached football since 1967 and Coach Ruggles since 1975). As good as these two men are as football coaches, they were just as great as girls basketball coaches, too. In five years leading up to their retirement from girls basketball, the duo compiled an overall record of 109-31 and an overall league record of 46-4, guiding the Lady Warriors to five-straight championships (04, 05, 06, 07, 08). They were also a CIF Division III runner-up in 2004. Along the way, they had some great all-league and all-area players, some of which included Katie Avila, Jana Smith, Brittany Barrett, Megan Terle, Lindsay Romo and Ashley Asoau. Every year, Coach Ruggles always made sure that I got a league championship hat. I always got a kick out of that. Thanks Coach!

2003 to 2014 -- Tom Shea --

Volleyball recognized among the best in Central California. It is amazing to me that a small town like Tehachapi can have their volleyball program vault to the very top of the most recognized programs in all of Central California. Just this past season, the Lady Warriors were ranked as high as No. 1 in the entire Central Section and top 10 in the state. Since 2003, Tehachapi has compiled a record of 288-80 (93-27 in league), good for a 78 percent winning percentage. Along the way, Tehachapi won three league titles (05, 09, 13), had four CIF championship appearances (07, 08, 09, 13) and won the CIF championship in 2009. This is in large part to the stellar coaching of Sally White, Renn Amstead, Sheri Dees, Olivia Simko, Moe Cramer and countless others within the THS and club programs that have made local volleyball one of the best in the state. There has been some great players over the years as well, some of which include Lauren Shacklock, Rachel Croy, Chelsi Dominguez, Persephonie Devereaux (I always had to double check the spelling), Jami Lankin, Chloe Podratz, Leah White, Paige Woodward, Sarah Horcher, Kayleigh Jarrett, Lauren Smith, Chelsi Dominguez, Jasmine Julye, Elayna Cramer, Kim Smith, Samantha Wallace, Tiffany Short, Brooklynn Cheney, and of course, Destiny Julye, who recently signed her letter of intent to attend the University of Washington on a full-ride scholarship. From Starlings, to Indians, to Braves, all the way to Warriors, this is a great program, and definitely one that the community should be very proud of.

2005 to 2014 -- Tom Shea --

Mountain Swimming dominates the pool despite facility setbacks. Of all the sports at THS, one of the programs that has been the most constant at winning championships at the varsity level has been Mountain Swimming. I have had the opportunity to report on some amazing swimmers this past decade, some of which include Michael Halaska, Wesley Schultz, Dylan Patton, Cody Brown, Alan Michael Ayers, Andrew Sparling, Lexi Zimmerman, Colleen Chung, Katie Chung, Vallarie Neang, just to name a few. One of the most memorable moments was back in 2010, when both the Warriors and Lady Warriors rolled to SSL championship finishes. The dominance was even more impressive when you factor in that for the beginning part of the season the swimmers did not even have a pool to train in. Dye Natatorium, which has always been a struggle to keep open for years, was having problems with the water pump and heater and the cancellation of the swimming season was imminent. Fortunately, TVPRD was able to open the pool, and the rest was history. The Warriors and Lady Warriors also swept the league championships in 2007, 2011 and 2012. Overall since 2005, the Warriors have won five league championships (07, 09, 10, 11, 12) and the Lady Warriors have won seven league titles (05, 06, 07, 08, 10, 11, 12). Pretty impressive run, especially when you consider the venue adversity they had to endure.

2010 -- Tom Shea and Michael Duffy --

Mountain Softball has masterful season, wins league and finishes as CIF runner-up. For Tom -- Despite the fact that watching softball often conflicted with my duties as an assistant coach for the THS tennis team, limiting the amount of games I could cover, I was always a big fan of softball. One of my favorite seasons was back in 2010, when the Lady Warriors had one of the best seasons in school history with a 28-5 (10-0 SSL) record and played in the CIF Division III championship game against Hanford West. This was an outstanding softball team, one of the school's best ever. Securing All-SSL honors that season were Kelsey Kapitzke, Bre Farinas, Ashley Carter, Tarah Steinbach, Hannah Ricker, Kearstyn Gilbert, Stephanie Medina and class salutatorian, Erin Golackson. Tehachapi finished as the South Sequoia League champions for the fourth time in five years, reaching the CIF championship for the second time in four years. One of my favorite moments happened right before the section championship game, when I got a hug from my favorite coach, Tracy Goodell. I have never met anyone with a heart like Coach Goodell. She had a great love of the game and her girls, and the results over the years showed that. For Duffy -- It has been a pleasure over the years to watch some great young men and women compete at all levels of sports from little league to the varsity level at THS and then advance to college or university level athletics. The list of standouts are too great to name, but one standout from the ranks of college athletes was a member of the Lady Warriors softball team, Ashley Carter. Ashley stated playing little league, then high school and travel ball and became an integral part of the Cal State Bakersfield Softball team.

1993, 2003, 2007, 2008 and 2010 -- Tom Shea and Michael Duffy --

Football wins multiple CIF championships. For Duffy -- One the milestones that I witnessed in my 24 years at the Tehachapi News was the undefeated season of the 1993 Warrior football team. The championship was fairly early in my career with the News and at the time I didn't realize that the undefeated record would stand more than 21 years. Adding to the excitement of the title game was the fact that the Warriors trailed 17-7 to Coalinga at the half but made good the epitome of a comeback scoring three touchdowns in the second half to claim the crown. And the fact that my son, Patrick Duffy and nephew, Anthony Martinez were on the team made the victory one that will not be forgotten. For Tom -- In my mind, winning a CIF championship is special in any sport. But, if there is one that is the crème de la crème, it has to be in football. Nothing brings a town together like a football game, and under the tutelage of legendary Head Coach Steve Denman, Tehachapi had some great teams capture the coveted prize the past three decades. 2003 was special for many reasons. Snatching victory from the clutches of playoff rival Yosemite for one, and two, watching Tanner Hutchinson cap a season that garnered 2,005 yards (second most all-time for one season), 29 touchdowns and 186 points. After the game, Jon Anderson led the players in a tribute, "hip, hip, hooray" for Coach Denman, in which he responded by saying the iconic, "It's not any one player, it's not any one coach. It takes all of us, every one of us, to make it happen." What a great moment. In 2007, Tehachapi rolled to a 12-1 overall record, led by three running backs that combined for over 1K yards of rushing/receiving during the season in Kelly Lorenz (1,167), Adam Mullen (1,126) and Josh Strauss (1,069). That was first time it was done in school history and it may never be duplicated. The very next season, the Warriors won back-to-back CIF Division III titles, but the second time around was even more special after an improbable upset over powerhouse Hanford. The Bullpups came in to the contest confident, but heart, combined with a thick fog that the players (much less the fans) could barely see through, the run-heavy Warriors pulled the shocker to take the title. After the game, long-time team statistician Gary Warner gave me the cardboard cutout stats that he kept during the game. It's one of my most treasured Warrior keepsakes and adorns the wall in my home office. The game also marked the end of a great high school run by running back Adam Mullen, who holds the school record for most touchdowns (51) and most points (312) and Josh Strauss, who finished his high school football tenure with the fourth most rushing yards in school history (3,490). The 2010 season might have topped them all, with Tehachapi, the smallest school in the entire Division II playoff bracket, winning the championship with a 13-10 road victory over San Joaquin Memorial. In what will always be known in THS history as "the drive," the Warriors marched 97 yards down the field late in the fourth quarter for the win. Senior running back Phil Rhodes, playing through the pain of a floating rib injury, fever and strep throat, hauled in a 44-yard completion from quarterback Levi Garrett and eventually willed the Warriors to victory with a four-yard touchdown run. I have never heard Tehachapi fans scream louder after the side judge referee signaled touchdown on Rhodes's score. On the Panthers' ensuing drive, Michael Lowder iced the victory with an interception, sending the visitor's side into cheers again. What a moment. What a win!

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