TAFT, Texas — Efrain Ozuna is a junior wide receiver and defensive back for the Taft football team. Not only is he an important part of the Greyhounds team, he is also an exceptional student; ranked at the top of his class academically.
“This kid defines student-athlete, with just the hard work he’s shown in the classroom and on the field,” said J.R. Castellano, the head football coach at Taft.
On top of football, Ozuna also plays baseball. He said his mom and coaches help him with the balance of being a student and a two-sport athlete.
“I get help from my mom in school work and stuff like that, and then in sports, the coaches are here for me, and help me in everything I do,” Ozuna said.
Ozuna said his goal is to graduate high school at the top of his class.
“My parents always told me I was going to be number one in my class, and I could do it, and ever since my dad passed, it’s been my goal to be number one,” he said.
Ozuna’s father, also named Efrain, passed away last year due to COVID-19. He said he’s dedicating this season to his father.
“I dedicate everything I do for him,” he said.
It’s not easy losing a parent, especially at a young age. However, Castellano also lost his father at a young age, and helped Ozuna through a difficult point in his life.
“It immediately took me back to when I lost my dad as a young man, and how my coaches impacted me, and were there for me. I immediately reached out to him and his older brother, called him in and just sat down and talked to him, just so he could get some things off his chest, to let him know I’m here for him, and I could relate to everything he is going through,” Castellano said.
The elder Ozuna was heavily involved in the community of Taft, especially athletics. He coached youth football in town, and coached a lot of the players on the high school team. He was also heavily involved in the booster club for Taft High School.
“‘Big Ef’ was involved in all our athletic events, he was in our booster club, anytime the booster club was doing anything, he was in the middle of it. He always would offer a hand, always would call me, text me, and see if there was anything he could do to help our kids and our athletic program,” Castellano said.
Castellano said Ozuna has high work ethic, and a lot of character, and expects him to have a big year on the field. Ozuna hopes he can make his dad proud.
“My dad always told me I was going to be on top. He was always there for me, being on me all the time, getting mad at me when I messed up, and being happy for me when I did good,” he said.
Ozuna and the Greyhounds open their season on Aug. 27 with a road trip to face Woodsboro.