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Former CVHS football players contributing at the collegiate level
Former Hawk football players Vince Lopez, Trevor Mew, Tyree Jones, Alex Casas, Nick Mead, Greg Mathews, Rick Rogers and Jesse Hatfield are contributing at the collegiate level.

"It's a reflection on Central Valley High School's program," Rogers said. "We all learned how to work hard. We all know how to play football."

Lopez, a freshman running back at De Anza College, returned to California following a redshirt season with University of Mary in North Dakota.

"It's been a smooth transition," Vince said. "I get to see my family and friends a lot more. I get an opportunity to play against the best. It just feels like a better fit for me."

Vince ranks first on the team in touchdowns (3) and second in yards (273).

"You can have great statistics in high school but none of that matters in college," Lopez said. "You got to keep progressing. You're not going to get by on just talent. I'm always trying to find that next thing my opponent is not doing. That's given me an edge."

Vince scored the winning touchdown from the one-inch line on fourth down during De Anza's 21-20 upset of state-ranked Foothill on Sept. 24. Lopez lined up at fullback, carried the ball and found himself at the bottom of a pile with less than two minutes to play. Vince had no idea the ball crossed the goal line until the referee raised his arms.

"The crowd went crazy," Lopez said. "It wasn't even supposed to be a close game. If we're ever in that situation again, my coach won't think twice about putting me in."

De Anza won five of its first six games of the 2011 season.

De Anza beat Foothill, Gavilan (71-14), Monterey Peninsula (41-23), Cabrillo (31-7) and West Hills (29-26).

Lopez had a career-day against Monterey Peninsula. He ran for 151 yards and three TDs.

"I'm enjoying my time out here," Vince said.

Lopez made the VOL First Team for his all-round play his senior year at CV. He rushed for 969 yards and eight touchdowns. He intercepted six passes, returning one 38 yards for a TD. Lopez also had an 82-yard kickoff return score.

Trevor and Tyree are trying to bring back a winning tradition at Merced College, which finished 2-8 overall and tied for last (1-4) in the Golden Gate Conference in 2010. The Blue Devils have struggled over the last decade, managing just one non-losing season.

Mew, formerly of Modesto Junior College, never lost belief in himself despite not taking a meaningful snap at quarterback in over two years.

"There's a reason I kept at it," said Mew, who completed 73 percent of his passes for 2,957 yards, 29 touchdowns and just eight interceptions while posting the second-best quarterback rating in the Sac-Joaquin Section and being voted Valley Oak League Offensive Player of the Year his final season with the Hawks. "I love competing. I just needed to get in the right situation. It wasn't a tough transition as far as fitting in. We have a close group of guys. I developed a trust with my teammates. I feel like I'm a Blue Devil now. I really think we have a chance to put Merced on the map."

Trevor completed 131 of 225 passes for 1,671 yards with 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions through Merced College's first six games. He threw for 327 yards and four TDs during his debut.

"The butterflies were definitely there," Mew said. "I'm still trying to get my groove back. My footwork's not where it needs to be at all. I'm far from perfect. It's definitely not going to be easy. That's what this position is all about. Playing quarterback, you're going to face adversity."

Jones joined Merced College after being recruited by Mew.

Tyree had a record-breaking senior season with Central Valley in 2010. Jones rushed for 1,717 yards and 14 touchdowns.

"I decided to go to Merced because I wanted to be away from home," Jones said. "It's something I have to get used to. Everything will fall into place."

Tyree has gained 112 yards and scored four touchdowns on 18 carries this year. He's returned three kickoff for 43 yards.

"We're loaded at running back," Jones said. "Every time I get a chance to touch the ball, I'm going to give it all I got."

Merced, 3-3, has already surpassed its win total from 2010. The Blue Devils beat Gavilan (49-0), Sequoias (17-3) and Los Medanos (35-7).

Casas, Mead, Mathews, Rogers and Hatfield play for Modesto Junior College, which had a 5-1 record as of Oct. 18.

Alex, a 6-foot-1, 240-pound freshman linebacker, tallied 15 tackles and one sack during the Pirates' first six games.

"I have a lot to prove," Casas said. Alex was named to the VOL Second Team his final year with the Hawks.

Casas did not play for Modesto JC in 2010. He had to take a year off from football after suffering a devastating right knee injury while playing in the 25th Annual Chowchilla Rotary All-Star Football Game. Alex tore his ACL and meniscus.

"I didn't even go to school," Casas said. "I was going to rehab twice a day for six months. It was a long process. The injury was a blessing. I had time to get stronger and bigger."

Mead, a 6-foot-1, 220-pound freshman linebacker, has accumulated 11 tackles. Nick received honorable-mention recognition from VOL coaches as a senior.

Mathews, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound freshman, totaled 35 yards on six receptions and returned a blocked punt 47 yards for a touchdown. Greg caught 51 passes for 868 yards and 10 TDs while garnering VOL First-Team honors as a junior. He also had a team-leading eight interceptions.

Rick (Fr.) decided to play football again after a two-year break. He moved from defensive back to receiver before Week 1.

"I just missed being part of something," said Rogers, who suffered a season-ending knee injury during his final season at Central Valley. "My leg healed pretty well. I figured I'd give it a shot before I got too old. It just feels good to be on the football field again. Hopefully, my role will get bigger when I learn the offense."

Rogers made the VOL First Team his senior year. He led Central Valley in receptions (63), and ranked second in yards (912) and touchdowns (10). He's caught one pass for 4 yards this season.

Hatfield, a freshman punter, spent his first three years of high school at Central Valley before transferring to Downey.

Modesto Junior College crossed paths with Merced on Oct. 8. The host Pirates prevailed, 72-26.

Mathews scored a defensive touchdown and caught two passes.

Hatfield had two punts downed inside Merced's 20-yard line.

Mew totaled 336 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in defeat.

Central Valley head coach Tim Garcia watched from the visitor's stands.

"We don't forget where we came from," Lopez said.