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CV challenges Sonora for three quarters
On paper, Central Valley High School's varsity football program stood no chance against Sonora.

The Hawks entered Friday's Valley Oak League contest with a 2-2 record, having lost 35-7 to Oakdale the previous week. The Wildcats had a perfect 4-0 record.

The two teams waged a back-and-forth battle for 36 minutes before a late surge helped Sonora pull out a 35-12 win at Bulldog Stadium.

"I'm real proud of our kids at how they competed," Central Valley head coach Tim Garcia said.

"It was good that we kept it close for that long, but we didn't play as good as we could have," Hawk co-captain Vince Lopez said. "We just had too many mistakes."

Promoted from JV to fill in for injured quarterback Jesse Hatfield, 5-foot-9, 175-pound freshman Abraham Navarro completed 6 of 10 passes for 161 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. He also scrambled for several first downs.

"We didn't expect him to play that well," Garcia said. "He did a really good job of staying calm and patient. He has a lot of the same traits (three-year varsity standout) Trevor Mew had. He has the right attitude and works hard."

Navarro also earned the respect of his teammates.

"He didn't do anything spectacular but he got the job done," Lopez said. "He looked like he'd been there before. In my eyes, he was born to be a leader. It's impressive because it's a big step going from JV to varsity as a freshman. This is only his second year of playing football."

Navarro delivered a 30-yard touchdown strike to Greg Mathews in the third quarter.

Mathews accounted for Central Valley's second-quarter score with a 50-yard catch and run. Lopez delivered the half-back option pass.

Sonora took control of the game after Central Valley muffed a punt.

The Hawks had a similar collapse several weeks ago.

"It's kind of like Hilmar all over again," said Garcia, whose team found itself in a tie game with the undefeated Yellowjackets before surrendering three unanswered touchdowns in the final quarter. "We had our chances. We got into the red zone four times and didn't score."

Central Valley (2-3 overall, 0-2 conference) will face an undefeated team for the fourth straight week when it travels to Sierra this Friday. The Timberwolves knocked off VOL favorite Manteca 23-15 on Oct. 9.

"I think we have a really good shot of being competitive if we limit our mistakes," Garcia said.

Mustangs race past Bulldogs

Ceres High School's injury-ravaged varsity football team got off to a promising start against two-time defending Valley Oak League champion Oakdale.

The Bulldog forced a turnover on downs on the Mustangs' first possession.

Ceres High struggled the rest of the way as it surrendered seven touchdowns in the first half en route to a 56-6 loss during Oakdale's homecoming.

Eight Bulldogs were sidelined for the entire game, including 2008 Valley Oak League second-team quarterback Josh Edwards and two-way starters Alex Sanchez, Tony Spinella, Brent Ward and Jeremy Cagle.

Josh, who passed for 1,732 yards and 14 touchdowns as a junior, suffered a season-ending knee injury the previous week at Sonora.

George Borden started in his place. He completed 10 of 21 passes for 95 yards with one touchdown and two picks.

"I was nervous before the first snap," George said. "They were big and fast. I've never played anyone that good before."

Borden engineered Ceres High's seven-play, 50-yard scoring drive in the fourth quarter.

His fourth completion resulted in a touchdown. Nick Sandoval caught a 7-yard pass in the right corner of the end with 8:29 to play.

"George had a shaky start but settled down," Bulldogs head coach Brett Johnson said.

Ceres High's homecoming game against Weston Ranch (2-3, 1-1) on Friday will kick off at 7:15 p.m. The Bulldogs (0-5, 0-2) will be vying for their first win of the year.



The members of Ceres High's junior-varsity football team trudged off the field in disbelief following Friday's gut-wrenching 27-20 loss at Oakdale.

The Mustangs delighted their homecoming fans when they turned a botched snap on a 25-yard field-goal try into a winning touchdown pass with 12 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

"It's a terrible way to lose," Bulldogs assistant coach Anthony Dean said. "The kids worked so hard."

Oakdale sealed the win when it intercepted Ceres High quarterback Nick Welsh's desperation pass as time expired.

Running back Zach Naylor gained 192 yards and scored two touchdowns for the Bulldogs, who dropped to 2-3 overall and 0-2 in the Valley Oak League. He also registered a team-high 15 tackles while playing middle linebacker on defense.

"The kid's unbelievable," Dean said. "He's the toughest, most talented player I have ever coached."

Welsh completed 6 of 10 passes for 103 yards with one touchdown and an interception.

Binder Atwal accounted for Ceres High's receiving score.

Ceres High held a 20-14 lead heading into the final period.

Naylor scored on runs of 67 and 4 yards in the first half. Zach had a 70-yard TD scamper called back in the opening quarter because of an illegal-formation penalty.

Welsh threw a 55-yard go-ahead touchdown pass to Binder Atwal in the third period.

Oakdale (4-1, 2-0) rallied with two TDs in the closing 10 minutes.

Ceres High will play host to Weston Ranch on Friday at 5 p.m.


Oakdale High completed a sweep of Ceres Unified schools in freshman football with a 46-7 victory over Ceres High on Thursday at Bulldog Stadium.

The Mustangs beat Central Valley 50-0 on Oct. 1.

"It's disappointing we didn't perform like we should have," Ceres High head coach Bill Curlis said. "We showed up but didn't play hard."

The Bulldogs dropped to 1-3-1 on the year and 1-1 in the Valley Oak League.

Oakdale moved to 2-0.

The Bulldogs trailed 26-0 at intermission.

Ceres High scored its lone touchdown midway through the fourth quarter when Blake Hurst connected with Haydon Turpin. The play covered 11 yards.

"The time of possession was pretty even," Curlis said. "They just ran the ball right down our throats. We didn't respond very well to that."

The Bulldogs were hurt by penalties and missed defensive assignments during the course of the game.

"That's not how we play football," Curlis said. "That's unacceptable."

Ceres High will play at Weston Ranch this Thursday (5 p.m.).

"Hopefully, we can bounce back," Curlis said.