TURLOCK — JoJo Ochoa didn’t have much free time during his senior year. The recent Atwater High graduate kept a pretty full calendar with football, wrestling and baseball.
When he wasn’t competing in sports, he was entertaining the rest of his classmates as the school’s rally commissioner.
“I knew I wasn’t going to do sports in college,” Ochoa said. “So I decided to go all out my senior year. I tried to do as much as I could. I wanted to have as much fun as I could.”
Ochoa’s busy schedule hasn’t let up. The linebacker/fullback is preparing to play in the 41st annual Lions Club All-Star Football Game on Saturday at Tracy High.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
It’s the first of two all-star football games this month for Ochoa, who will also play in the 29th annual North/South Rotary All-Star Game on June 27 at Veterans Stadium in Merced.
“I’m out here trying to finish out my senior year,” Ochoa said. “I’m having fun and making new friends. I’m doing what I love to do and that’s play some football.”
It was quite a successful senior year for Ochoa.
He was an all-Central California Conference inside linebacker after recording 130 tackles for the Falcons. He also ran for 574 yards and 10 touchdowns as a fullback.
Ochoa qualified for state in wrestling and helped the Falcons baseball team reach the playoffs for the first time since 2001.
Ochoa was one of the most recognizable faces on campus. Not just from sports, but also his duties as rally commissioner.
“He was definitely the heart and soul of Atwater at times,” teammate Armando Gauger said. “Especially doing all those sports. He’s a guy a lot of people looked up to. He’s just not afraid to embarrass himself. He’s just out there looking to have a good time and everybody loves him for it.”
Ochoa admits being involved in so many activities was exhausting, but well worth it.
“A lot of times I was worn out,” Ochoa said. “At times, my coaches would tell me to take it easy at the rallies because they needed me for a game. But I didn’t think it was fair to the school if I only went half speed at the rallies. I felt I was like the hype guy for the school. I would get crazy. I would have sweat dripping from me at the end of the rallies.”
During rallies Ochoa was able to help shave the head of Atwater principal Alan Peterson. He had teachers impersonate actors in front of students. He dressed new teachers up as Falcons. He did it all to help get his fellow students excited about what was going on at Atwater.
Ochoa’s outgoing personality is hard not to like. Coaches love him because he’ll do anything to help the team.
This week, that means Ochoa might see some action as a defensive lineman.
“I’ll do whatever I can to get on the field,” said Ochoa, who kept his GPA during high school at 3.5 or above. “I was told they might use me at D-line. I’m down with it. As long as I get to play. The more I get to play the more fun I’ll have.”
His new teammates and coaches are quickly finding out why Ochoa was so well liked at Atwater.
“JoJo is a great kid,” said Merced coach Rob Scheidt, who is coaching the South in the Lions game. “I’ve known JoJo just from being around him here and there. I’ve seen him in wrestling and he’s always been around football. He has a lot of energy. I guess he needs it doing all that.”
Sun-Star staff writer Shawn Jansen can be reached at (209) 385-2462 or firstname.lastname@example.org.