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A look back at the 2008 sports season
It was a year of remarkable performances. Latrisha Jordan dominated in multiple events on her way to becoming the first Central Valley High School student-athlete to qualify for the CIF state track and field championships and receive a full-ride Division I scholarship. Ceres High girls tennis ace McKenzy Harden, the Valley Oak League's co-Most Valuable Player, extended her unbeaten streak in conference play to 64 matches. Hawk quarterback Trevor Mew put up video game-type numbers en route to becoming one of the top-rated passers in the Sac-Joaquin Section. Ceres High and Central Valley also enjoyed team success in multiple sports. In today's Courier, we present the best of 2008 list.

Peak Performers

1. Latrisha Jordan graduated as the most decorated athlete in Central Valley High School's history. Seeded eighth, the senior captured a fifth-place medal in the 300 hurdles in a personal-best time of 42.40 seconds (25th in the nation) at the CIF track and field championships. Latrisha also won Sac-Joaquin Section Masters and Division III titles, and swept four events at the Valley Oak League competition (100 hurdles, 300 hurdles, 400 and 200). Jordan qualified for state (300 hurdles), finished first at Masters (300 hurdles) and claimed four conference championships (100 hurdles, 300 hurdles, 200 and 100) as a junior. She obtained a cumulative GPA of 3.167 in high school. Latrisha is currently a freshman at Fresno State.

2. McKenzy Harden successfully defended her Valley Oak League girls tennis singles title. The junior won all 32 of her conference matches for the second straight season. Harden has an astonishing 107-4 record over the past three years. She was runner-up at the VOL finals as a freshman, losing to two-time, league champion Katie Medina, a player she defeated twice during the regular season.

3. Trevor Mew, the second-best quarterback in the Sac-Joaquin Section, had a phenomenal senior season for Central Valley High School's football team. The third-year starter completed 73 percent of his passes for 2,957 yards with 29 touchdowns and just eight interceptions while amassing a 138 QB rating en route to leading the Hawks to a program-best 5-5 overall record. Mew concluded his career with a 269-yard, five-touchdown performance in a 40-7 blowout of crosstown rival Ceres High. He was voted the VOL's Offensive Player of the Year by the conference's head coaches. Mew was rated No. 15 overall in the state, including second in completion percentage and third in passer rating.

4. Ceres High junior runner Alejandro Garcia made history when he qualified for the CIF state cross country championships. The last Bulldog to accomplish that feat was Casey Rhea 10 years ago. Garcia placed 77th at state, fifth at sections, third at sub-sections and second at league. During the regular season, Alejandro captured the Stanislaus County Invitational title, and finished first at a pair of Valley Oak League cluster meets.

5. Ceres High boys soccer standout David Estrada won the Valley Oak League's Most Valuable Player award. The junior striker tallied 20 goals and five assists in 14 conference games for the second-place Bulldogs. His VOL career resume includes winning MVP once, earning first-team honors twice, tallying 43 goals and dishing out 18 assists in three seasons.

6. Ceres High softball player Vaneza Hoover was selected Valley Oak League Pitcher of the Year. The righthanded junior posted an 11-3 record with a 1.19 ERA, 115 strikeouts and 36 walks for the second-place Bulldogs. She notched back-to-back no-hitters against VOL champion and section runner-up East Union and playoff-participant Sierra. Hoover also batted cleanup for Ceres High. She hit .388 with four homers, five triples, five doubles, five stolen bases, 15 runs and 24 RBIs. Vaneza became the first Bulldog to go deep at Ceres' second-year ballpark when she teed off in an 11-7 win over conference-rival Weston Ranch.

7. Ceres High boys basketball star Brett Sayad earned first-team All-Valley Oak League honors for the second straight year. The 6-foot-7 senior forward-guard averaged 21.2 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game. He also shot 83 percent (75-for-90) from the free-throw line. Sayad, who is currently a freshman standout on Modesto Junior College's hoops team, will be remembered as one of the Bulldogs' greatest offensive players.

8. Advised to forego his senior season after suffering a devastating knee injury, Central Valley High School senior wrestler Mike Tubera resisted and made a triumphant return to the mat. Tubera captured the Valley Oak League 121-pound title, finished third at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV championships and posted a 1-2 record at the Masters Meet despite missing a month of training. Mike claimed gold in front of his home fans at the VOL tournament with a second-round pin of Oakdale's Kevin Butler. The competition was held at Ceres High School, Tubera's former school.

9. Whether it was on the mound or at the plate, Central Valley High school baseball player Martin Gomez very rarely disappointed. The junior righthander compiled an 8-4 record with a 2.91 ERA, 93 strikeouts, eight complete games, one shutout and two saves. Gomez propelled Central Valley past East Union, Sierra, Sonora, Ceres High and Weston Ranch in conference play. He ranked in the top three on the team in eight offensive categories, including first in homers (1), triples (3), walks (16) and RBIs (17), and second in doubles (4), runs (13), on-base percentage (.411) and slugging percentage (.451). Martin earned first-team, VOL honors.

10. The Chavez brothers, twins Tony and Steven, accomplished a lot during their senior campaigns for Ceres High's wrestling team. Tony came remarkably close to realizing a goal he's sought for four years. With a bid to the California Interscholastic Federation State Meet on the line, Chavez fell 1-0 to Ripon's Ryan Mackey in the seventh-place match of the 152-pound class. Tony posted a 38-10 record on the year, finishing first at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV and Valley Oak League competitions. Steven won the 171-pound VOL crown by pinning Oakdale's Charlie Gilstrap in the third round. He also placed at masters (top 12, 3-2) and divisionals (second, 2-1).

Best Team Effort

1. The groundwork for a successful 2008 campaign by Ceres High's boys soccer team was laid in the offseason when former Bulldog Koeurn Phe was named head coach. The disciplinarian led Ceres High to its first Sac-Joaquin Section finals appearance. The Valley Oak League runner-up Bulldogs (15-4-3 overall, 10-1-3 conference) made an improbable run to the Division IV title game, where they lost 5-4 on penalty kicks to top-seeded River City. Ceres High had a wealth of talent on its roster, including VOL MVP David Estrada, and all-conference players Luis Martinez, Kyle Cerny, Aron Mejia, Eleazer Padilla and Jose Mesa.

2. Central Valley High School's revamped boys soccer team advanced to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV semifinal playoff round, claimed the Valley Oak League crown (11-2-1) and posted a 17-3-2 overall record. The Hawks excelled despite returning just several starters from a 2007 team that qualified for the postseason and finished in second place in conference play. Central Valley's Omar Leon, the VOL Coach of the Year, pushed all the right buttons. He praised the play of all of his players, including all-league honorees Antonio Cabrera, Daniel Ochoa, Jose Ramirez, Javier Alcantar, Bobby Chanthavong, Billy Chanthavong, Larry Hernandez and Gerardo Cazares. Cabrera, a junior forward, led the Hawks with 13 goals and five assists.

3. Ceres High's girls tennis team won a share of the Valley Oak League title, qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoffs for the second straight year and finished 13-3. The Bulldogs had a productive season even though their seven-player lineup featured four new starters. McKenzy Harden, Venus Lopez and Angie Prak led the way.

4. Ceres High's softball team extended its string of consecutive playoff appearances to 23 seasons. The Bulldogs won 11 of 14 league Valley Oak League games en route to a second-place tie with Sierra. Ceres received the conference's No. 2 playoff seed by virtue of its 2-0 record against the Timberwolves. Vaneza Hoover, Mika Johnson, Chelsea Lomeli, Hillary Haley, Ryan Norton, Cassie Rayford and Jode Johnson were major contributors. Hoover won the VOL Pitcher of the Year award. Mika Johnson was named Offensive Player of the Year. Lomeli, Haley, Norton and Rayford earned conference honors. Jode Johnson was an all-defense selection.

5. Ceres High's boys tennis team qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II Team Playoffs for the second straight year. The Bulldogs managed to place second in the VOL at 11-3 despite losing their best player to eligibility three weeks into the season. Mike Hundal, Aaron Salazar, Harmon Bains, Jose Cortes, Raul Massie, Wilson Liang and Brian Moreno all contributed.

Most Memorable Games

1. Competing on the road in front of more than 375 fans, Central Valley High School's boys soccer team claimed the Valley Oak League title with a 1-0 triumph over city-rival Ceres High. Antonio Cabrera scored what proved to be the winning goal in the fifth minute. Gerardo Cazares assisted. Hawk players ambushed head coach Omar Leon from behind with a bucket of ice water, then hoisted him in the air following the historical victory.

2. Central Valley High School fans stormed their home court following a 56-48 upset of crosstown rival Ceres High in boys basketball. The Valley Oak League finale victory eliminated the Bulldogs from playoff contention and served as revenge for a 41-point loss. Yama Noorzai buried four 3-pointers and scored 17 points for the Hawks. Brian Blunt added 13 points, including three treys. Sean McLeod had 10 points. Brett Sayad made three 3-pointers and scored 18 points for Ceres High, which dropped from No. 14 to 17 in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III power ratings. The top 16 teams received postseason bids.

3. Wilson Liang and Brian Moreno provided the match-clinching victory in host Ceres High's 3-2 win over Central Valley in the Valley Oak League boys tennis finale. The duo defeated Antonio Cervantes and Heath Sousa 7-6 (4), 6-0 in No. 2 doubles play, rendering the outcome of Mike Hundal's and Anthony Macias' No. 1 singles contest meaningless to the final team result. The Bulldogs beat the Hawks twice in 2008. Ceres High won both doubles matches and one of three singles matches during the second meeting. Jose Cortes and Raul Massie defeated Jahiro Godinez and Tony Leon 6-1, 7-6 (2) in No. 1 doubles play. In the quickest match of the day, Aaron Salazar defeated Paul Sidhu 6-3, 6-4 at No. 2 singles. Hundal lost 5-7, 6-2, 6-4 to Central Valley's Macias. Bulldog teammate Harmon Bains lost 6-4, 6-3 to Ricardo Leon at No. 3 singles.

Other Notable Stories

1. Armando Perez, a volunteer assistant football coach at Central Valley High School during the fall of 2007, was arrested and charged on June 16 with distributing cocaine and conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine. A complaint issued by the U.S. Attorney's Office of the Eastern District of California in Sacramento implicated the 28-year-old and three other men following a lengthy investigation that started last summer. Perez allegedly supplied cocaine for four drug deals involving a federal undercover agent.

2. Less than three months before the start of the Ceres Youth Baseball & Softball organization's 2008 campaign, Mike Borges called Cliff Hurt to deliver some heartbreaking news. George Costa passed away at the age of 89 on Jan. 13 in Modesto. Costa dedicated 44 years of his life to coaching Little League in Ceres. The city's ballpark was named in his honor 35 years ago. Hurt and Co. took time to remember Costa during an emotional Opening Day on April 5. More than 1,000 people were in attendance.

3. Ceres High School established an athletic hall of fame. Approximately 35 individuals, two coaches and two teams from the past 50 years were apart of the first class to be inducted during a special ceremony on Sept. 14 at Phil de la Porte Gymnasium.