When he reached the milestone, Caden Voges celebrated for a split second, and then froze.
The fast-forward player was suddenly stuck on pause. There is no script for this, the Sacramento High School senior quarterback pondered as he was patted on the helmet by teammates and bear-hugged by coaches for his achievement Friday night.
Voges had just thrown a 47-yard touchdown pass to DaVon Owens against Laguna Creek, which was pretty routine stuff for a quarterback known to light up a scoreboard during three remarkable varsity seasons. But this particular touchdown pass eclipsed the 10,000-yard career passing mark.
That’s some 5.6 miles.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Sacramento Bee
“Coach Justin Reber gave (the ball) to me, and it was surreal, in the middle of the game, and ... what now?” Voges recalled Tuesday with a laugh.
“ ‘Give it to your mom,’ ” he was instructed.
So that’s what he did. Voges scrambled across the Cosumnes River College track, where he was greeted by his grinning mother, Laura. She embraced her son and the ball, applause surrounding them.
Tens of thousands of high school quarterbacks in California have passed a football through the decades. Only six in state history have passed for more than 10,000 yards – Voges is the second in Sac-Joaquin Section history. The only other was Folsom’s Jake Browning.
Voges isn’t a numbers guy, and he is certainly not a “me guy.” Polite and unassuming, the 5-foot-11 Voges didn’t even know he was approaching the milestone until Reber told him.
“Ten thousand yards, that’s really cool, actually,” Voges said. “But I can’t take all the credit. A lot of guys around me over the years helped make things happen. So many things had to work for this to ever happen, and I’ve got great receivers in Elijah Trosclair and Talik Ellis.”
Growing up passing
Sac High had its eye on Voges since he started throwing a football at age 10. His father, Tim, is a Dragons assistant coach, and watched his son sling a football since he was too small for shoulder pads.
Voges enjoyed the game so much growing up that when he was in middle school he would participate in practice drills with the Sac High varsity, which was then coached by Paul Doherty, now at Whitney High. Those players, and Doherty, took Voges in, making him feel like part of the team.
I know some people may think, ‘You’re in the not-so-great Metro League,’ but Caden has done it the right way. And 10,000 is a big deal. It’s a nice, big round number.
Tim Voges, Sac High assistant coach and Caden Voges’ father
Now when Voges is approached by kids after games, he is sure to take a moment to chat. He implores them to work on their game, to be good students and teammates.
“That was me not too long ago,” Voges said.
Said Tim Voges: “Caden grew up around this. The older kids here accepted Caden, and that did so much for his confidence. He’s had the quietest 10,000 yards in state history, and he’s been pulled out of a lot of games because we’re ahead by so much. I know some people may think, ‘You’re in the not-so-great Metro League,’ but Caden has done it the right way. And 10,000 is a big deal. It’s a nice, big round number.”
Quarterbacking is in the Voges family genes. Tim Voges played the position in high school in Alaska in the 1980s, but his eyebrows rise when talking about the prowess of his son.
“Caden is 10 times the quarterback I ever was,” Tim Voges said. “Especially when it comes to mechanics and footwork. And he can really throw it.”
Team goals first
Voges enters this Friday night’s game at CRC against Valley having passed for 10,271 yards and 124 touchdowns in 33 games. His legacy as a regional great is secure, but where he attends college is anyone’s guess. There’s not much more Voges can do to raise his recruiting profile, and he has the grades. He’s also smart enough to know that college recruiters don’t come running for quarterbacks who are shorter than 6 feet.
For now, Voges is more interested in team goals, namely winning. He’s the first quarterback to lead the Dragons to a playoff victory as a sophomore. That season, Voges passed for 4,351 yards and 48 touchdowns as Sacramento reached the section Division III finals. His best effort in 2013 was the 529-yard, six touchdown, no interception gem to beat Christian Brothers 48-38 in the playoffs.
Last season, Voges passed for 4,294 yards and 56 touchdowns, including 10 touchdowns passes with one interception in three playoff games.
This season, Voges has thrown for 1,626 yards and 20 touchdowns for the Dragons, who are 3-3 with two of those losses via forfeit. The lone on-field loss was 28-14 to Rocklin as Voges passed for 306 yards and a touchdown. However, he threw four of his five interceptions this season in that loss to Rocklin, which was a learning experience.
“I knew I could get better, I had to,” Voges said.
It’s easy to see why he’s been so successful when you see the way his teammates respond to his leadership.
Jason Adams, Rocklin defensive coordinator
Still, Voges caught the attention of Rocklin, which rolled Sacramento 47-6 last season.
“Caden’s a tough player who plays the position like a linebacker,” Rocklin defensive coordinator Jason Adams said. “He’s willing to stand tall in the face of pressure if it allows for the receiver to get open. It’s easy to see why he’s been so successful when you see the way his teammates respond to his leadership.”
Said Reber, the Dragons’ first-year coach: “The team really does respond to him. Caden just goes out and does his thing. It could’ve been really tough on Caden because we changed the offense from last year, but he’s figured it out, and he’s done a great, great job. He’s got a great football IQ and understands defensive schemes, his reads. He’s been fun to coach and watch.”
Voges has also piled up other nice numbers.
He batted .500 with 22 RBIs and scored 37 runs for the Dragons’ baseball team last spring. And he’s a 3.8 GPA student over his academic career, pulling a 4.0 this fall. Voges is also quick to tutor teammates.
“I’ve always known that academics are really important, and it gets you into college and it’ll last longer than sports,” Voges said. “I’ve always taken school seriously.”
He better. He’s dating the school’s student-body president – Andrea Butler. They started dating late their freshman year.
“Yes, I voted for her,” Voges said with a laugh. “She helps with the spirit week, the rallies.”
Voges and his football teammates donate their time to the Oak Park school, too. Each Friday in preparation for a Saturday home game, the Dragons paint the field. In an era of playing on turf, Sacramento embraces its old grass-and-dirt field. The yard markers, hash markers, the block “S” at midfield and the Dragon logos in the end zone all get spruced up. No one cuts corners because, as the kids like to say, “This is our house!”
“I take the spray paint to the Dragon to make sure it’s just right,” Voges said. “It’s unique. How many teams get to do that? We take great pride in what we do and what we have. There’s a lot of character to our school and field.”
Ever the teammate, Voges said credit for the Dragons’ field goes to longtime groundskeeper Bob Storrs, saying: “Bob’s the best.”
The quarterback isn’t bad, either. And the ball Voges gave to his mother? She placed it in his bedroom, a symbol of a milestone Voges didn’t see coming.