Jacob Pauka is the kind of kid most parents would love to call their own, and most coaches would love to recruit.
Before attending Scotts Valley High School, this student owned the baseball diamond, leading the Pony League in batting average (.700) and clocking 14 home runs in his last season. He was the first player in the history of Santa Cruz Pony to receive an MVP award, which was presented by Pony President Ken Castro.
On the football field, Pauka is just as determined. The kid that carries a 4.0 GPA also carried the pigskin for 17 touchdowns, and was honored by his junior varsity coaches at the annual football banquet with the MVP award for his performance during his inaugural season on the team.
As a running back, Pauka had 69 carries for 869 yards, including 17 receptions for 317 yards, and set a school record for scoring five touchdowns in one game, which just happened to be the last game of the season against North Salinas High School.
While his parents have every reason to gush over their son’s achievements, the real accolades came from SVHS Head Coach Travis Rebbert during his presentation at the awards banquet. He referred to Pauka as the “Swiss Army knife” of the team while detailing the freshman’s impressive season statistics, including being No. 2 on the team for tackles.
According to Rebbert, even more meaningful than Pauka’s time on the field was the quality of his character.
“He never once said ‘no’ to anything he was asked to do for the team, and during that final game against North Salinas, Pauka played every snap of the game. When I asked him if he was tired,” said Rebbert, “he said he was, and I know it killed him to admit that.”
Rebbert said the team was better for having Jacob on it, and told Pauka, “The sky’s the limit for you, kid.”
Pauka was humbled by the award and the attention.
“When I first got into the program, I had no idea what I was doing,” he said. “Coach Travis helped me out and spent a lot of time with me to help figure things out. He helped me become a good quarterback, and the other coaches helped teach me confidence.”
While he got a few snaps as quarterback, Pauka excelled as a running back (his favorite position), wide receiver and enjoyed playing corner in defense, but his biggest rewards on the field come from his relationships with his fellow teammates.
“I learned a lot from them, and they always had my back,” he said.
Pauka’s best advice for players who want to get into sports? “Listen to your coaches, and don’t go to bed too late. Work hard, exercise, always be humble and respectful to others, and stay connected with your teammates,” he said.
The high school football season may be over, but you can catch Pauka on the baseball diamond this spring. For more information on the upcoming schedule, visit https://svhs.scottsvalleyusd.org/o/svhs/page/baseball.