Robert F. Kennedy High Thunderbirds were all business Friday night, as they beat Wasco High Tigers 45-7, continuing their undefeated season.
Before the first play, the game was dedicated to the family and memory of Army First Lt. Osbaldo Orozco, who gave the ultimate sacrifice back when most of the players were only toddlers, and some of their parents were in high school.
Orozco died on April 25, 2003, while serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom, as part of C Company First Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, based at Fort Hood, Texas. He died when his vehicle rolled over while traveling through rough terrain. His quick reaction force unit was responding to enemy fire.
Long before he died, Orozco was a hometown hero of Earlimart. Orozco, 26, attended California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo on a full football scholarship.
As a sophomore, he earned the team’s third highest record ever for tackles. In his junior year, he led the team in tackles. In his senior year, he was voted the football team’s most inspirational player. His parents went to every game, even after working in the fields that morning. He graduated from college in 2001 with a bachelor's degree in social science, then received his Army commission and married his high school sweetheart.
He was the second of five sons of Mexican immigrants and the first in his family to graduate from college.
His wife, Mayra Orozco, said her husband wanted to go into the FBI or the CIA and had real leadership quality.
Orozco's family watched as a local motorcycle group that honors veterans drove their bikes onto the field, lined up in front of the RFK inflatable Thunderbird and watched as the players burst out, then stood by as the entire school and an honor guard honored Orozco's memory.
His parents were presented a plaque to mark the occasion.
Kennedy would score the first touchdown on a 60-yard run, to make it 7-0. A Thunderbird defender picked off the Wasco quarterback and returned it to the 41, but Kennedy would not score on that drive.
Thunderbird runner Ricardo Solorio would score from 33 yards out to make it 14-0.
A third turnover, Wasco's second fumble of the game, would lead to another score. This time, the Kennedy quarterback would pass to Enrique Ramirez to make it 21-0. A 27-yard field goal with two seconds left made it 24-0 at halftime.
Kennedy would finish the game with a 45-7 win. The Thunderbirds are 7-0 overall and 3-0 in South Sequoia League play. The Thunderbirds have a bye this week.
They will take on the McFarland High Cougars on Oct. 18 on the road. McFarland is 3-3 overall, and 0-3 in league play.