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CV compiles 5-5 record, falls one win short of playoff berth
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The Sac-Joaquin Section released playoff brackets for high school football on Oct. 3.

Approximately four of the Western Athletic Conference's seven teams were invited to the postseason, excluding Central Valley, Ceres High and Livingston.

The Hawks, 5-5 on the year and 2-4 in the Western Athletic Conference, came oh-so close to earning their first-ever playoff berth.

"I'm not a would have, could have, should have type of person," Central Valley head coach Jason McCloskey said. "It is what it is. We'll only get better from here. We'll definitely be eyeing the playoffs next year."

The Hawks enjoyed a 4-1 start to the 2012 season. Central Valley dropped four of its final five games.

The Hawks lost 21-20 to Patterson, 29-0 to Los Banos and 38-6 to Central Catholic before closing out the year with a 40-13 win over crosstown-rival Ceres High.

Central Valley still had an outside shot at making it to the playoffs despite struggling down the stretch.

"All year long, we were chasing our A game," McCloskey said. "For the most part, we missed out on that opportunity."

Added Hawks star junior running back Ja'Quan Gardner: "Our goal was to make the playoffs. We fell short of our expectations."

Patterson, a No. 8 seed for the Division-III playoffs and the third-best team in the WAC, dealt Central Valley its second loss.

Led by emergency quarterback Brandon Williams, the Tigers rallied late in the fourth quarter for a 21-20 victory.

Central Valley's potential game-winning 36-yard field goal was blocked in the waning seconds. The Hawks also missed a point-after kick early in the fourth quarter.

"It's something we haven't done as a program," McCloskey said. "Win a game we're not supposed to win."

Pacheco scored four touchdowns and booted a field goal before Central Valley threatened late. The Hawks held on for a 30-20 victory.

"That one got away from us," McCloskey said. "It ultimately cost us a playoff berth."

Pacheco will make its first-ever postseason appearance. The Panthers edged out the Hawks for the final berth (No. 16) in the Division-III bracket.

Central Catholic won the WAC title and enters the Division-IV playoffs as a No. 6 seed.

Runner-up Los Banos was awarded a No. 5 seed.

"We played against some good competition," McCloskey said. "We hope they represent the WAC well in the playoffs. We'll be rooting for them."

Central Valley fielded its first-ever varsity football team in 2006.

The Hawks have yet to experience a breakthrough season.

McCloskey had a respectable first year at the helm. Jason replaced Central Valley founding head coach Tim Garcia, who took over the offensive-coordinator position at Grace Davis.

"He (McCloskey) did a really good job for his first year," Gardner said.

Gardner, Ben Anitelea, Angelo Bermudez and Milton Uti will try to lead the Hawks to record heights next season.

"We have the best running back in the area," McCloskey said. "We have a tremendous defense. We're loaded with talent. It's going to be a lot of fun next year."

Gardner has rushed for a program-record 3,547 yards and 40 touchdowns since being promoted to the varsity squad as a sophomore.

"When he gets the ball in his hands, he's lightning in a bottle," McCloskey said. "He's so good."

Anitelea led the Hawks in tackles (75). He also had one sack, one interception and one fumble recovery.

Bermudez racked up 1,162 all-purpose yards, to go along with four touchdowns.

Uti logged playing time at tight end, defensive end and linebacker.

He caught 14 passes for 179 yards and five touchdowns.

Milton totaled 44 tackles and five sacks.

Quarterback Abraham Navarro, and defensive linemen Nick Van Tuinen and Marcus Rodriguez will be lost to graduation.

Navarro, a four-year starter, passed for 857 yards and 13 touchdowns this year.

Van Tuinen had 70 tackles, five sacks and one fumble recovery during his final season with the Hawks.

Rodriguez made 64 tackles, tallied four sacks, forced one fumble and recovered a fumble.

"They did an amazing job," McCloskey said. "It's going to be tough to replace that leadership."

For the sixth consecutive season, Central Valley beat Ceres High.

The Hawks dominated the seventh installment of the Ceres Classic, 40-13.

Central Valley, 4-6 in 2011, just missed securing its first playoff berth this year.

The Hawks needed just one more victory.

Central Valley lost to Golden Valley, Patterson and Pacheco by a combined 14 points.

"That's the worse feeling," Gardner said. "We should have won those games."

"We did some good things," McCloskey said while talking about his team's overall performance. "I'm satisfied with the progression. I'm really excited about the upcoming year."