New era for Buck football

Fightin’ Buck quarterback Jayden Canaba prepares to receive the ball at a recent practice. 

It’s a new year, and new era in Alpine High School Fightin’ Buck Football. For the first time in four seasons, the Bucks will have a new starting quarterback, and all eyes will be on junior Jayden Canaba to fill in at the position, as well as the vacated leadership. 

Canaba is replacing four-year starter Aaron Fellows, whose career ended last year on a highly successful note that included a district championship and a couple of playoff wins.

Make no mistake, the team is challenged with filling some big holes left by graduating seniors. At quarterback, Canaba steps in with many factors that already play into his and the team’s favor. First, there’s experience. Last year, Fellows played different positions in the offensive scheme, and when he did, Canaba stepped in as quarterback, and made several big plays throughout the season. 

The coaches describe Canaba as a quiet leader who leads by example, and puts in the extra work, whether during the offseason, or spending extra time on basics every day. He prides himself as a student athlete, and has earned a high level of respect among team members, athletes from other sports, coaches, and, importantly, among the faculty and staff at the high school.

Principal Justin Gonzales agreed with the athletic and academic positives Canaba brings to the table, but was very in touch with something that seems to repeat itself over the years – Canaba comes from a family that has exemplified Fightin’ Buck pride for generations. He comes from a family of successful student athletes born, raised, and taught to be upstanding citizens right here in Alpine.

Going back to the late 1950s and 1960s, Canaba’s grandparents, Kachoo and Berta Valenzuela, were student athletes. Kachoo played center for the Bucks, centering the ball and figuratively passing the torch to his grandson at quarterback. Berta was an all-star in volleyball and basketball, then worked as an educator with the district until her retirement.

His aunt Debbie and mother Gloria played in state championships and a state final. They now serve as elementary school teachers. 

Canaba’s sister earned multiple All-State honors in high school, and All-Conference honors in multiple sports in college.

Finally, his father, Troy Canaba taught and coached with the district for several years, and found success in a trip to the State Softball Championship in 2012.

The junior quarterback does not see this as pressure at all, but rather his turn in line to do great things with his teams this year. 

"My family has set the bar very high with the success they have had in the past, and that drives me to work harder so that I can live up to and exceed those expectations,” said Canaba. “I don't feel like it is pressure, but an honor to continue to carry on our family legacy."

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