Golden West senior running back Gonzalo Rodriguez doesn’t necessarily “wow” you with his size or his speed, but…
“I like to run with a lot of attitude,” says Rodriguez.
On Friday October 27th, in a 47-14 win over Mount Whitney, that attitude helped Gonzo run into the record books.
“We’ve been playing football in Visalia since 1895,” says Golden West head coach Paul Preheim. “For him to break a record like that, at a school that’s just coming out of its shell, is amazing.”
In that win over the Pioneers, Rodriguez finished with 183 rushing yards, bringing his career total at that point to 4,264 rushing yards, which made him the new all-time career rushing leader amongst the Visalia High Schools. He passed 2006 El Diamante graduate Wayne Jones, who was the previous record holder with 4,183 yards.
“I couldn’t believe it,” says Gonzalo. “I try not to think about that stuff (though), because I’m worried about winning.”
The record-breaking evening was made even more special because he got to share it with the most important person in his life, his mother Anna, a single mother who works as a house cleaner.
“I’m gonna try to do whatever I can to help my mom and make her happy,” says Rodriguez.
Some Saturdays during the season, Gonzalo will even help mom with the cleaning, starting work at 8 a.m in the morning after a Friday night football game.
“I look at my mom and I see her work, and that makes me want to work harder,” says Gonzalo. “I always think about that, before almost every play, and that makes me really wanna run hard.”
Gonzalo is a 3-year captain, and coaches say he’s one of the best teammates, and hardest workers, they’ve ever been around. He helped the Trailblazers finish the regular season at 8-2, where they will enter the Division-IV Central Section playoffs as the top seed.
“There are players that stick out in a coaches head when they’re done coaching, Gonzo’s gonna be one of those guys,” says Preheim.
Despite all this, Rodriguez isn’t attracting any serious attention from college recruiters.
“He deserves to play college football,” says his head coach. “I think he’d excel at a college football place.”
Gonzalo would jump at the opportunity to play football in college, but even if that doesn’t happen, he’s hoping to become the first in his family to graduate from college, and then…
“start giving back to everyone that gave to me,” says Gonzalo.