The Grade Blog

Saturday, Apr 19 2014 10:00 PM

He was no star, but McCarthy in Hall of Fame

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, greets several people in this file photo.

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BY LAUREN FOREMAN Californian staff writer lforeman@bakersfield.com

In the scores of readily available newspaper and ESPN articles about the much-celebrated Bakersfield High School football team, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy's name -- a Driller in the 1980s -- is no where to be found.

His four years on the team, from 1979 to 1983, failed to generate an athletic scholarship to a Division 1 school, much less a professional football offer.

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But he will join other BHS alumni -- Chad Manning, Jerry Marion, Bill Van Odsel, Tharrell Ming, Jack O'Brien and Jeremy Staat -- as a 2014 inductee into the Driller Football Hall of Fame on May 22.

"I was not the star at all," McCarthy said. "We had a lot of great players."

McCarthy, a tight end for the team in 1983, said he endured two-a-day practices with household names like Michael Stewart and Marshall Dillard. He still remembers the rainy winter runs and the smell of grass from summertime practices.

"We'd have to bus to practice every day (at the field) on 2nd and P street," said McCarthy, a starter on the team but hardly one of its stars.

Stewart went on to play 10 seasons in the National Football League -- seven for the Los Angeles Rams and three for the Miami Dolphins. Dillard rushed for more than 4,000 yards before moving on to Stanford University. McCarthy's career was significantly less remarkable. So when the Bakersfield High School Quarterback Club and Coach Paul Golla sought to include the four-term congressman in the Driller Football Hall of Fame, the House's third-ranking Republican initially said no. He did not think himself worthy. But BHS Principal David Reese went to work on him. "I said no, this is not just about football and stats," Reese said. "It's about what you do in life."

When BHS started its Hall of Fame nine years ago, administrators did so simply to bring "fame to the Driller name."

Reese said physicians and chief justices fit that motif as well as star athletes.

McCarthy eventually relented.

"I always want the kids to know no matter where you come from, hard work and team work can help you accomplish your goals in life," McCarthy said.

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