By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Bulldog, Hawk players complete first week of practice for '12 campaign
The clock is ticking.

The 2012 prep football season begins on Aug. 24.

Ceres High staged two-a-day practices, Monday through Thursday.

The first session, which consisted of learning offensive and defensive plays indoors, ran from 7-9 a.m.

Coaches focused on conditioning, and individual and team instruction outside from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Devon Ruger and Lucas Silva, and Blake Hurst and Caden Johnson paired up during Wednesday's form-tackling drill.

Hurst completed passes to Johnson, Ruger, Jorge Arroyo and a host of other skilled-position players towards the end of practice.

Hurst (quarterback), Johnson (receiver) and Arroyo (running back) will fill key roles on this year's team.

Blake threw for 1,435 yards and 10 touchdowns as a junior.

Caden missed the first seven games of the 2011 season with an arm injury.

Bulldog players bonded last Friday during an overnight retreat on campus.

"The kids are dedicated and committed to bettering themselves and teammates," Ceres High head coach Bret Durossette said.

Approximately 1.5 miles across town on Aug. 7, Central Valley head coach Jason McCloskey and his coaching staff stressed the importance of working hard and efficiently.

"I didn't even have a job on June 17," said McCloskey, a Minnesota transplant who took a year off from coaching while substituting for Modesto City Schools. "I feel very lucky to be in this situation. To be here on the sidelines feels real natural to me. The guys understand change is good sometimes. It's a fresh start. Everybody is really excited."

Hawk players practiced, Monday through Friday, from 4-7 p.m.

Integral training consisted of running 500 yards consecutively from goal line to goal line in mandatory times depending on positions.

"It's for endurance," McCloskey said. "We're seeing a lot of good effort out here. The guys have improved already."

Derrick Goblirsch provided instruction to Central Valley's quarterbacks, including Abraham Navarro, Kenny Lopez and junior Kendall Johnson

Navarro, Lopez and Johnson worked on three-step, five-step and one-step drops.

"Footwork is the most important thing," said Goblirsch, a former standout passer at crosstown-rival Ceres High.

Navarro and Lopez are battling for the starting job.

Navarro missed the majority of last season with a knee injury.

Lopez was his replacement.

"It's always nice to have two capable quarterbacks," McCloskey said. "They have a lot to offer. It's going to come down to the wire. Abraham's a natural leader and he's mentally tough. Kenny's an athlete. He made plays last year. He's got a good attitude. He really wants to learn."

Jode Johnson, Kendall's older sister, was a multi-sport star at Ceres High.

Kendall must sit out the first six games of the 2012 season to satisfy a CIF-transfer rule.

The former Ceres Cowboys youth football player started at quarterback on Beyer's 3-7 frosh-soph football team in 2011.

"There's a lot of talent on this team," Johnson said. "We're all trying to earn spots. Once I get more reps, I'll get better. I just want to help out wherever they need me."

Junior tailback Ja'Quan Gardner will shoulder the load on offense for the second straight season.

Gardner was voted Western Athletic Conference Offensive MVP at the varsity level as a sophomore. He rumbled for a school-record 1,985 yards and 25 touchdowns.

"The run game is set," McCloskey said. "Every other position is open."

Nose tackle Marcus Rodriguez and linebacker Nick Van Tuinen will lead Central Valley's defensive unit, which struggled with consistency from 2006-2011.

"We're trying to instill that mentality of being tough," McCloskey said.

Added Rodriguez: "It's going to be a lot different this year."

Marcus was named to the WAC First Team as a junior. This will be his third year starting.

"He was always one of the stronger kids on the team but didn't try hard to separate himself," Hawks defensive coordinator/former Ceres High star running back Antone Lopez said. "He got a work ethic in wrestling and it carried over to football and life."