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CHS, CVHS kick off new year
Preseason schedules for Central Valley High School's and Ceres High's varsity football programs have been released.

The Hawks will face three new opponents as two-year contracts with Los Banos, Cesar Chavez and Escalon expired.

Central Valley will take on Le Grand (Friday on the road), Bret Harte (9/19) and Hilmar (9/26).

"We just want to give our kids an opportunity to be competitive and build some momentum going into league," Central Valley head coach Tim Garcia said.

Added Hawks quarterback Trevor Mew: "It's a nice change. We'll be able to see some new faces."

LeGrand (5-6, 3-2), Bret Harte (5-6, 2-3) and Hilmar (7-3, 3-2) compete in the Southern, Mother Lode and Western Athletic leagues.

They posted a combined record of 17-15 in 2007.

"It's not a drop-off at all," Mew said when asked to compare 2008 and 2007 preseason calendars. "Those are three quality teams. Two of them (Le Grand and Bret Harte) made playoffs last year. One (Hilmar) was right there."

For the third year in a row, Ceres High will face Grace Davis (Friday at home), Downey (9/19) and Calaveras (9/26).

"We just signed a two-year extension with all three of them," Bulldogs head coach Brett Johnson said.

Calaveras, Grace Davis and Downey posted a combined record of 20-12 last season.

The Bulldogs lost 35-21 to the Redskins, 33-0 to the Spartans and 26-7 to the Knights.

"We're playing teams that will challenge us," Johnson said. "It doesn't do any good to play a patsy opponent."

Davis finished 6-5 overall, won a share of the Modesto Metro Conference championship (4-1) and lost 38-14 to state-ranked Merced in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs in 2007.

Brad Goudeau, Davis' head coach, graduated from Ceres High. Goudeau and Johnson taught together at Mae Hensley Jr. High School for two years. Brad was also an assistant at the JV level for the Bulldogs in the 1990s.

"It's a friendly competition," Brett said. "It gives you year-long bragging rights."

Downey (6-4) placed fourth in the MMC standings (2-3).

Calaveras went 8-3, captured the Mother Lode League crown (5-0) and fell 37-34 to Modesto Christian in the Division V playoffs a season ago.

The Redskins have a new head coach in promoted assistant Jason Weatherby. He replaced Roger Canepa, who took over for Mike Glines at section juggernaut Central Catholic. Under Canepa's guidance, Calaveras compiled a 91-21-1 record and claimed seven MLL titles in 10 years. Roger was a varsity assistant with Ceres High in 1997.

"I don't see them having too much of a drop-off," Johnson said. "They're a small-school powerhouse. They're always competitive."

The Bulldogs posted an 0-10 overall record and finished eighth in the VOL standings (0-7) last year.

The Hawks went 3-7 overall and 2-5 in conference play (sixth place). They won one of three preseason games.

Both teams head into the 2008 season with high hopes.

Ceres High's and Central Valley's summer schedules included weight lifting, conditioning and seven-on-seven passing contests. Players practiced four times a week, up to three hours a session.

"We worked a lot harder than some of the other schools," Mew said. "Hopefully, it will pay off."