Central Valley varsity boys basketball head coach Darryl Dickson sets the bar high every year no matter the talent level.
"The goals are always the same," he said. "We want to win league and make playoffs."
The Hawks just missed earning a trip to the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs last winter.
Crosstown-rival Ceres High (12-14, 8-4) edged out Central Valley (15-12, 7-5) for the third and final postseason berth.
"I'm not sure what our identity is," Dickson said. "We need to nail down who we are and what style we're going to play. We're capable of shooting big. We just have to be consistent."
Central Valley's starting lineup features returners Gurshan Chahal (Sr., point guard), Harinder Sidhu (Sr., shooting guard), Ralph Afortunado (Sr., small forward) and Oso Fregoso (Sr., center), and newbie Mankern Chahal (So., power forward).
"We'll lean heavily on those guys (Gurshan, Harinder and Ralph)," Dickson said.
Gurshan Chahal, a senior point guard, averaged 12.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game en route to earning second-team all-WAC honors a year ago.
"He does everything for us," Dickson said. "He's our best all-round player. He has the whole package."
Sidhu will pose a threat from the outside for the second straight season.
"He's the best shooter in the league, especially wide open 3s," Dickson said. "Teams are going to play him tight. We're going to have to find ways to get him open."
Returnees Willie Soriano (Sr.) and David Serrano (Jr.), and newcomers Alonzo Bustos (Jr.), Phillip Jackson (Jr.), Miguel Jimenez (Jr.), Andres Rojo (Jr.) and Grant Neang (So.) will contribute off the bench.
"We hope they can be productive," Dickson said.
Fourth-place Central Valley finished one game behind Ceres High in the 2015-16 WAC standings.
El Capitan (11-1) and Patterson (10-2) took first and second, respectively.
El Capitan moved to the Central California Conference as part of league realignment.
The Hawks enjoyed a promising start to the WAC season.
Central Valley reeled off four straight victories, beating Patterson, Los Banos, Pacheco and Livingston.
The Hawks dropped five of their final eight games, including a pair of contests to the Bulldogs.
"I'd definitely give the edge to Ceres this year, then Patterson," Dickson said.
Central Valley posted a program-best 22-4 overall record, finished first overall in the WAC (12-0) for the first-time ever and secured its second consecutive playoff berth during the 2014-15 school year.
Hungry for redemption, the 2016-17 Hawks plan to start a new streak.
"We're going to be competitive," Dickson said. "We have some shooting and speed. We have to limit our mistakes. We can't have 30 turnovers a game. If we can put everything together, we'll be tough to beat. For me, a successful season would be winning league and making playoffs."