Recent graduate Daniel Alvarado put on football gear for the final time this past month when he represented Central Valley High School in the 30th Annual North/South Rotary All-Star Football Game.
Seven months earlier, Alvarado sustained a knee injury as the Hawks closed out the 2014 season with a 24-7 upset loss to crosstown-rival Ceres High.
“I spent part of the night at Emmanuel Hospital,” Alvarado said. “Nothing was torn. I had to do physical therapy for two to three times a week for two months. When I messed up my knee, I thought that was my last football game. When they notified me about the all-star game, I was really excited.”
Alvarado played left guard on offense as the North defeated the South 15-0 on June 19 at Golden Valley High School’s Veterans Stadium.
Central Valley head coach Scott Edwards and former Hawks star running back Ja’Quan Gardner watched from the stands.
“It was a cool experience,” Daniel said. “I rotated in every other drive. It was cool being out there. Everybody is watching you play on the field. There were a lot of people out there supporting me.”
Alvarado played four seasons of football at Central Valley, including two varsity.
Daniel started at center his junior and senior years.
He was selected to the Western Athletic Conference First Team this past season.
Alvarado earned second-team, all-conference honors in 2013.
“I never thought I’d get this far in football,” Alvarado said. “Playing football at Central Valley was fun. All of the coaches and teammates I had were great. It was a great experience.”
Daniel helped lead Central Valley to a program-best 6-5 overall record and first-ever Sac-Joaquin Section playoff appearance his junior year.
Alvarado blocked for Gardner, who broke the Stanislaus District’s career and single-season rushing yard records.
Ja’Quan earned a full-ride scholarship to Division-II Humboldt State.
“That was a fun year,” Alvarado said. “It’s cool being able to say I was part of that first team that made playoffs at Central Valley. I still keep in touch with Ja’Quan. He’s a great dude.”
Alvarado’s final season with the Hawks ended with disappointment.
Daniel injured his right knee in the fourth quarter of Central Valley’s 17-point setback to Ceres High on Nov. 6.
The victory eliminated the Hawks (5-5) from playoff consideration during the final day of the regular season.
Ceres High (3-7) also ended a seven-year losing streak against Central Valley.
“It was frustrating,” Daniel said while talking about his rehab process, which was delayed due to an insurance issue. “I was on crutches for two weeks. They gave me a big knee brace. There was a lot of swelling and icing.”
Playing days behind him, Alvarado might cross paths with some of his former teammates in the future.
He plans to pursue a career as a barber.
“I’m going to really miss playing ball with my teammates,” Alvarado said. “It’s family out there. I’m going to miss the feeling you get when you step on the field. I like competition.”