The fall prep sports season ended earlier this month. Now is a good time to highlight the accomplishments of top individuals and teams.
Top male athlete-Central Valley's Ja'Quan Gardner (football) and Ozzie Ramos (boys soccer) were the best players in their respective sports. Gardner had a record-breaking final season with the Hawks. He became the Stanislaus District's single-season (2,467) and career (6,014) rushing yards leader. Gardner ranked sixth in the state in yardage. Ja'Quan tallied 63 TDs during his three-year career. He scored 23 times on the ground in 2013. Ramos tied for fourth in the state in assists (29) with Hawk teammate Anthony Calvo, and ranked fifth in goals (31) en route to claiming his second straight Western Athletic Conference MVP award.
Top female athlete-Ceres High's Caitlin Pfaff (girls golf) and Marifer Ochoa (girls tennis) dominated their respective sports. Pfaff, a junior, won her second straight Western Athletic
Conference Most Valuable Player award. She placed first at the WAC End-of-Year Tournament. Caitlin finished 12th at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV competition. Ochoa, a senior, posted a perfect 16-0 record on her way to claiming her second WAC singles title in four years. Marifer was also voted league MVP for the third time. She won two of four matches en route to a top-four finish at the Sac-Joaquin Individual-II Tournament.
Male newcomer-Brad Bussard had a productive first season with Ceres High's football team. The junior quarterback threw for 2,853 yards and 25 touchdowns with 16 interceptions. Bussard had three 400-yard passing games. He totaled a program-record 437 yards and six TDs in his debut against Modesto High.
Female newcomer-Julia Pata earned first-team, all-Western Athletic Conference honors while starring on Ceres High's girls water polo team as a freshman. Pata led the third-place Bulldogs (4-4) in assists (25) and steals. She also scored 11 goals.
Coach-Central Valley's Omar Leon (boys soccer) and Jason McCloskey (football), and Ceres High's Randy Cerny (girls golf) all deserve recognition. Leon's team qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section finals for the fourth time in five years, totaled a program-best 26 wins with just two losses, won its sixth straight league title and participated in the playoffs for the seventh consecutive year. McCloskey's team accomplished several firsts this year. The Hawks qualified for the postseason and compiled a winning record (6-5). Central Valley also improved its head-to-head record versus crosstown-rival Ceres High to 7-1. Cerny's team finished second in the WAC (10-2) and extended its playoff streak to four seasons.
Team-Central Valley's boys soccer team had a banner year. The Hawks, unbeaten in Western Athletic Conference play at 12-0-0, reeled off 20 straight wins prior to being upset 3-2 by Christian Brothers in the section finals. Central Valley's football team logged its best season to date.
Game-Central Valley's 15th-seeded football team put up a fight before losing 69-55 to No. 2 Manteca in the Division-III playoffs. Trailing by seven points late in the fourth quarter, the Hawks' potential game-tying drive ended with a turnover in Buffalo territory. Manteca's Chase McKee secured the victory with a 69-yard fumble return touchdown. Central Valley lost despite racking up 669 yards of total offense, including 619 on the ground. Ja'Quan Gardner rushed for 378 yards and four touchdowns. He also tossed a 4-yard TD pass to Christian Romo. Kendel Johnson gained 221 yards and scored three touchdowns. Central Valley trailed by as much as 20 points in the second half. Gardner's final score cut the deficit to 62-55 with 8:35 to play. Central Valley had momentum in its favor prior to fumbling at the Manteca 31-yard line. Angelo Bermudez's knee appeared to hit the ground first before the ball came out. The two teams combined for 18 touchdowns and 1,230 yards.
Honorable mention-Ceres High's Dylan Canatsy (football), Cris Torres (boys soccer), Tomas Rocha (boys soccer), Gustavo Villalon (boys soccer), Cristian Cabrales (boys soccer), Zachary Jones (boys water polo), Terry Brogdon (boys water polo), Sean Carr (boys water polo), Ethan Campbell (boys water polo), Emily Chapman (girls water polo), Julia Pata (girls water polo), Judas Chavarin (boys cross country), Lisette Carretero (girls cross country) and Jennifer Cisneros (girls cross country), and Central Valley's Kendel Johnson (football), Angelo Bermudez (football), Ben Anitelea (football), Omar Orozco (boys soccer), Daniel Hernandez (boys soccer), Juan Medrano (boys soccer), Anthony Calvo (boys soccer), Jaime Lua (boys soccer), Jesus Mendoza (boys soccer), Ben Saldana (boys cross country), Mia Lorenzo (volleyball), Julia Ramsey (volleyball), Marlen Diaz (girls golf) and Emely Amaya (girls tennis).