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Ex-CV student-athlete earns scholarship to Southern Oregon U.
Sterling Shaw enjoyed the once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Shaw, formerly of Central Valley High School and now a senior at Central Catholic, accepted a scholarship on Wednesday, Feb. 1 to play football and continue his education at Southern Oregon University.

Parents Robert and Gina, brother Chance, sister Amaris, coach Roger Canepa and teammate Craig Jones attended Sterling's national-letter-of-intent signing ceremony.

"I'm happy with my decision," Shaw said. "Honestly, it's a dream come true. I've wanted to play college football since the sixth grade. I'm real excited."

"The school celebrated it," Robert said. "They made him feel special. I could see him smiling when he signed the paper. It was a really big relief for me. He finally got rewarded for all of the hard work. I'm proud of him for that."

Shaw turned down scholarship offers from Montana Tech, Florida Tech and University of Mary in North Dakota. University of Texas at El Paso and Nevada also expressed interest.

Sterling and more than 15 other players visited Southern Oregon the weekend of Jan. 28-29. Berk Brown, a Central Catholic alumnus, recruited Shaw.

"We gelled and became friends right off the bat," Shaw said. "It felt like a perfect fit. It's somewhere I can be successful."

Southern Oregon had a .500 record (5-5) under first-year head coach Craig Howard's guidance this past season.

Howard previously coached prep football for eight years in Florida. He guided Nease High School to a state championship in 2005.

Craig's top player was Heisman Trophy winner and current Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow.

Shaw will vie for playing time on defense at safety.

"I'll have a chance to fight for a starting spot," he said.

Sterling attended Central Valley High School for two years before transferring to Sac-Joaquin Section powerhouse Central Catholic.

Shaw contributed at running back, strong safety and defensive end, and on special teams during his senior year. He was named to the Western Athletic Conference first team. Sterling rushed for 943 yards and seven touchdowns for Central Catholic, which compiled a 10-3 overall record, advanced to the semi-final round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs and finished second in the WAC (5-1). Shaw tallied 29 tackles and 31/2 sacks. He missed the final two games of the postseason with a broken leg.

Sterling ran for 390 yards and five scores, and made 42 tackles with one fumble recovery as a junior. Central Catholic finished 7-5, third in the WAC (3-2) and lost in the second round of the playoffs.

"I'm pretty satisfied with how we did," Shaw said. "Win or lose, we had each other's backs. I had fun. Fridays at school are the days I will miss the most."

Sterling played JV football at Central Valley his sophomore year. He missed half of the season following hip surgery. Doctors removed a benign bone tumor.

Shaw gained 124 yards and scored one touchdown in a 26-7 loss to Valley Oak League champion and crosstown-rival Ceres High at the freshman level in 2008.

Sterling also suited up for Ceres Seahawks, Falcons and Cowboys youth football teams.

In 2005, Shaw played a major role while leading the Falcons' JV team to the NYFL Super Bowl title and perfect 10-0 season.

Seahawks teammates Greg Tripp and Kyle Martinez had standout careers at Central Valley and Pitman, respectively. Martinez previously attended Central Catholic and Central Valley.

"I think about the what-ifs all the time," said Sterling, who still resides in Ceres by his former school. "I still hang out with those guys two to three times a week. They're life-long friends."

Shaw wants to teach history and coach football in the future. He carries a 3.2 GPA at Central Catholic.

"Academics are really important," he said. "If you don't have the grades, you can't get accepted to college. I'm just using football as an outlet to help get me to where I want to go in life."

"As a dad, you can only push so much," Robert said. "The goal was to get him to college. He loves football. When the game's on the line or there's a lot of pressure, he seems to perform stronger. I'm not just saying that because he's my son. He's always been driven."

Sterling will compete in the 27th North/South Chowchilla Rotary All-Star Football Game on June 29 at Golden Valley High School.