1 Justin Hansen; 2 Kurtis Knudson; 3 Franky Rodriguez; 4 Ehren Ochsenrider; 5 Dan Rakowski; 6 Garrett Coontz; 7 Josh Schulgen; 8 Nick Howell; 9 Derek Lange; 11 Neal Herman; 12 Jesse Olofson;
13 Tyler Hack; 14 Steve Miller; 15 Zach Maravigli; 16 Zeke Saavedra; 17 Chris Marsik; 18 JJ Balkar; 21 Will Clark; 22 Adam Mullen; 23 Richie Meister; 25 Josh Strauss; 27 Kelly Lorenz;
28 Jeff Waldram; 30 Austin Herman; 31 Angelo Loli; 32 Matt Henry; 33 Louie Olofson; 34 Byron Herman; 35 Jason Hail; 36 Marshall Pearson; 40 John Cramer; 41 Damian Rodriguez; 42 Joey Hack;
44 Alek Taliulu; 45 Matt Santos; 51 Jonathan Perrien; 52 Vince Ortiz; 53 Cameron Hood; 54 Dominic Chavarria; 56 Cody Rogers; 57 Eric Harroun; 58 Kevin Ruiz; 59 Brent Hanes; 60 Humberto Silva; 61 John King;
62 Jimmy Lopez; 64 Marcus Abarquez; 65 Ryan Rubi; 67 Drew Howell; 70 Steve Brass; 71 Luke Papac; 72 Geo Higareda; 75 Mike Gonzalez; 77 Tucker Kill; 78 Phil Smith; 80 Chris Fimbres; 81 Shawn Pimentel; and 85 Jon Castelblanco.
Season Review by Tom Shea, thswarriors.com
Warriors Win Valley Championship!
Final 12-1 Season Log Best Since 1997
For the Tehachapi Warriors in 2007, it was a season of satisfaction.
Mountain Football sought lofty goals before the season started and it’s safe to say that they achieved every single one, everything from winning the newly-created Ogilvie Trophy, claiming the South Sequoia League Championship, to winning their ninth CIF championship in school history.
The season’s first game brought the Warriors to the confines of one of their most notable rivals in Garces, who welcomed Tehachapi with the distinction of being the defending CIF Division III Central section champions. Mountain Football wasted little time in making themselves a clear contender in the new season, dispatching the Rams 28-13 behind two touchdown passes from Ehren Ochsenrider, who found Franky Rodriguez and Josh Strauss in-stride for scores.
The next two contests for Tehachapi brought offensive fire-power in the tune of 82 points and 631 yards of total offense combined in both games, defeating LA Baptist and Burroughs-Ridgecrest 33-6 and 49-28, respectively. The game against Burroughs marked the coming home party for first-year Burro head coach Matt Gracey, who was a Warrior football player the late 80’s / early 90’s. Will Clark and Angelo Loli both found the endzone on the ground for Tehachapi against Burroughs, while Kelly Lorenz, Josh Strauss, and Adam Mullen combined for eight touchdowns in a rushing onslaught.
Week 4 handed Tehachapi their first and only loss of the 2007 campaign in a tightly contested 21-19 defeat at the hands of Righetti, who came to Mountain Football country with an undefeated record. Tehachapi bounced back quickly a week later in Bakersfield, with Tehachapi rushing for 295 rushing yards in a 35-28 win over Southwest-Yosemite League power Stockdale. With an impressive 4-1 record under their belt against a tough batch of opponents, the Warriors appeared poised heading into their SSL season.
Before the South Sequoia clashes commenced, many onlookers predicted that the six teams in the division would make up one of the toughest leagues in the central section. What no one would foresee however was that the 2007 SSL season would be widely considered the best in league history from top-to-bottom, producing three CIF champions at season’s send (Bakersfield Christian – Division V, Taft – Division IV, and Tehachapi – Division III). All three teams also finished with season records of 11 wins or more, with BCHS and Taft both losing league games to Tehachapi.
The Warriors began their SSL run with a dominating win over Shafter, taking a 35-6 halftime lead and costing to a 41-12 win. Josh Strauss and Adam Mullen would score two touchdowns apiece in the first half alone, with Will Clark putting a capstone on the evening with a 25-yard jaunt in the fourth quarter to account for 338 total yards.
In what would turn into the SSL game of the year, Taft made their trek up the Mountain for a league-title showdown in week 7. Tehachapi’s defense would rise to the occasion, holding the undefeated 6-0 Wildcats, rated no.1 in Division IV, to only a field goal and 143 yards of total offense in the game. In retrospect, Tehachapi was opportunistic in the contest, with Adam Mullen breaking the game open with an 18-yard, Emmitt Smith-esque 18-yard touchdown run and Ehren Ochsenrider capping a turnover opportunity into a score with a 1-yard bootleg run.
While nothing in the SSL ever seems to come easy, the Warriors by-in-large seemed to cruise the rest of the way to an undefeated regular season, easily dispatching Arvin (55-14), Wasco (34-6), and Bakersfield Christian (41-7). Tehachapi averaged 420 yards of total offense in the three games, while the “three-headed snake’ of Kelly Lorenz, Josh Strauss, and Adam Mullen started to create a town buzz of potentially becoming the first three backs to amass 1,000 yards of offense by three players in one season of Mountain Football.
Jeff Waldram, who will be known as one of the most intelligent players of all-time in Warrior-lore, was quoted saying after the SSL championship clinching win over Bakersfield Christian, ““The secondary has to give a lot of credit to the linebackers and the down-guys, they put a lot of pressure on the quarterback and that really helps us out,” added Waldram. “It’s really the whole team coming together and making it happen, we all feed off each other and it’s not one person.”
Tehachapi, sporting a 9-1 (5-0 SSL) record heading into the playoffs, was not overlooked by the CIF seeding selection committee on their stellar season, earning the #1 seed in Division III and earning a first round bye.
Despite having a week off after garnering so much momentum, the Warriors were optimistic with their chances against a strong playoff draw and were looking forward to the competition.
“Hopefully we’ll keep things going in the playoffs,” said Warrior tight end Shawn Pimentel. “I love everyone on this team, I love the players, the coaches, everyone. I know our guys, we’ll be ready for what’s next and it should be exciting.”
Up first was a formidable #8 seed opponent in Highland-Bakersfield, who was led behind the arm and running ability of Anthony Johnson, a highly-regarded talent in the Kern County area that eventually would get a scholarship to play football at Fresno State later on in the year. Johnson led the Scots in rushing, receiving, and scoring, and proved to be a tough horse for Mountain Football to handle in the section-quarters. But, while Highland had one prolific back at their disposal, Tehachapi still had three, with Lorenz, Strauss, and Mullen helping to churn out nearly 200 yards combined to help the Warriors keep the game clock in their favor. Also a big factor in the game was defense and big play ability; with Mullen running a fumble back for a score and Shawn Pimentel catching a field-goal fake five-yard touchdown reception. The two big plays helped Tehachapi take the lead in the first quarter, 14-0 and the eventual 21-14 win.
Next up for Tehachapi was a season rematch with #4 seed Garces, with not only a section title berth on the line but the victor reclaiming the distinction of owning the all-time series between the two schools (series before the game was 16-16-2).
For the Tehachapi Warriors, it was their second big-game of the season, and for the second time since their pivotal SSL match-up with Taft, Mountain Defense rose to the occasion to the tune of a 23-0 shutout. It was a dominating game on both sides of the ball for Tehachapi from start to finish, with Kelly Lorenz taking a bulk of the load on offense to help Tehachapi in 120 yards rushing, and Adam Mullen providing the scoring punch with two rushing scores.
With the defending champion gone, all that was left for Tehachapi to cap their magical season was a win over #2 seed Foothill, who was making a second-straight trip to the section finals.
Tehachapi needed little motivation to play at a high-level to start the game, with Foothill’s De’Andre Wallace saying on local television leading up to the contest that “Tehachapi didn’t have as tough a schedule as us, we’re going into the game with the mindset that they’re not as tough as us and we’re just going to try and overpower them.”
The Warriors saw Wallace’s television interview in the locker room before the game, and the end result gave Tehachapi an eventual 33-28 electric win over the Trojans.
The result did not come easy, with both teams trading blows throughout the game in barely visible fog conditions. The Warriors jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead only to see Foothill take the momentum right back behind two long passing plays for scores. Eventually, Tehachapi settled down to pull within one point, 21-20 behind a six-yard deflected pass reception to Garrett Coontz. However, a missed extra point gave the Trojans the slim lead.
Two possessions later for Tehachapi, with the game clock winding down in the fourth quarter, the most unlikeliest of heroes came to the forefront in JJ Balkar, who brought the Warrior fans to an ecstatic fever-pitch with a 42-yard touchdown reception from Ehren Ochsenrider. The pass reception gave Ochsenrider seven completions for 164 yards and three touchdowns, his best output of the season, and gave the Warriors a 26-21 lead with just over two minutes remaining in the game.
“I had the best quarterback in the central section this year, hands down,” said an emotionally spent Balkar after the game. “That catch was the best feeling I’ve ever had in my life. I was on top of the world after I caught it. It was all team though, all of us made it happen.”
Kelly Lorenz would cap the win with a five-yard score on Mountain Football’s next possession, and a late-game onside-recovery by Adam Mullen would seal Tehachapi’s CIF championship and 12-1 season.
Head Coach Steve Denman, who in the playoffs claimed the distinction of the all-time winningest head coach in Kern County history (223 victories total at season’s end), said, “We are a small community that is tight-knit, close,” added Denman. “This game was as big as it gets, and our kids answered the call and came away champions. Their success is etched in history now.”
The individual honors were many for Tehachapi at the end of the season. In the statistical category, for first time in school history, the Warriors had three backs rush or receive for 1,000 yards or more, with Kelly Lorenz (1,167), Adam Mullen (1,126) and Josh Strauss (1,069) setting their mark with total yards each in rushing and receiving. Alek Taliulu also helped spearhead a defense at linebacker that garnered him All-Area/All-league honors in 131 total tackles in 2007. Kelly Lorenz earned second team All-Area at runningback, while Dominic Chavarria (OL), Ehren Ochsenrider (QB), Louie Olofosn (DE), Shawn Pimentel (TE), Josh Strauss (RB), and Jeff Waldram (DB) were honorable mention all-area.
As a team, Tehachapi averaged 33 points a game, good for fourth all-time in 78 years of football, and an incredible 4,443 yards of offense, 62 touchdowns and 3,614 yards rushing.
Earning All-League honors for Tehachapi were Ehren Ochsenrider (QB), Kelly Lorenz (RB), Josh Strauss (RB), Shawn Pimentel (TE), Marcus Abarquez (DL), Dominic Chavarria (OL), Vince Ortiz (OL), Jeff Waldram (DB), Franky Rodriguez (DB), Louie Olofson (DE), Alek Taliulu (LB) on the first team, Marcus Abarquez (OL), Derek Lange (LB), Garrett Coontz (LB) on the second team, and Jonathan Perrien (DL), Josh Schulgen (DB), and Adam Mullen (RB) honorable mention all-league.
For a complete listing of Tom Shea’s 2007 “Weekly Warrior” articles on the team, please click here.
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|Aug 24||Garces (Bakersfield)||28||13||A||Josh Strauss: 1 TD, 99 yds. rushing|
|Aug 31||LA Baptist (North Hills)||33||06||H||Josh Strauss: 1 TD, 78 yds. rushing|
|Sep 7||Burroughs (Ridgecrest)||49||28||H||Adam Mullen: 2 TD's, 148 yds. rushing|
|Sep 14||Righetti (Orcutt)||19||21||H||Kelly Lorenz: 1 TD, 68 yds. rushing|
|Sep 21||Stockdale (Bakersfield)||35||28||A||Kelly Lorenz: 3 TD's, 130 yds. rushing|
|Oct 5||Shafter *||41||12||A||Adam Mullen: 2 TD's, 36 yd. TD int. return|
|Oct 12||Taft *||17||03||H||Ehren Ochsenrider: 1 TD rushing, 1 FG - 24 yds.|
|Oct 19||Arvin *||55||14||A||Kelly Lorenz: 2 TD's, 139 yds. rushing|
|Oct 26||Wasco *||34||06||A||Kelly Lorenz: 1 TD's, 115 yds. rushing|
|Nov 2||Bakersfield Christian *||41||07||H||Adam Mullen: 3 TD's, 208 yds. rushing|
* Denotes League Game
|Nov 16||Highland (Bakersfield)||21||14||H||Adam Mullen: 2 TD's, 42 yd. TD fumble return|
|Nov 23||Garces (Bakersfield)||23||00||H||Adam Mullen: 2 TD's, 56 yds. rushing|
|Nov 30||Foothill (Bakersfield)||33||28||H||Ehren Ochsenrider: 3 TD passes, 164 yds. passing, 3 PAT's|