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Central Valley drops season opener, 34-20, to Atwater
Moses Ghiorso (5) pumps up his Hawk teammates prior to kickoff against the Falcons. Central Valley led early before fading as Atwater pulled away for a 34-20 victory. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Prior to kickoff, Central Valley High School's varsity football team entered Bulldog Stadium to a loud ovation.

Ahead 8-0, the Hawks mustered just two touchdowns the rest of the way in dropping their season opener 34-20 to visiting Atwater Friday evening at Bulldog Stadium.

"We definitely came out with energy in the first half," Hawks first-year quarterback Reuben Rodriguez said. "We were focused. We had a lot of chances to put more points on the scoreboard. We just kept shooting ourselves in the foot with turnovers, penalties and missed assignments. We know we have a lot of stuff to improve on."

Rodriguez totaled 166 yards on 13 of 30 passing with one touchdown and four interceptions.

All-purpose player Moses Ghiorso ran for 100 yards and one touchdown on 12 carries.

He grabbed four passes for 44 yards.

He amassed 85 yards on kickoff and punt returns.

Fullback Jamarea Lumpkin chipped in with 47 yards (42 receiving) and one rushing score.

Receiver Robert Nieto's lone reception resulted in a 14-yard TD.

Tight end Franky Ramirez finished with 26 yards on three receptions.

Hawk sophomore defensive back Estevan Barragan collected eight tackles and intercepted one pass.

Linebacker Emani Anitelea made seven tackles.

Defensive end Oso Fregoso tallied five tackles and one sack.

Central Valley contributed to its own demise by committing seven penalties for 70 yards and turning the ball over four times.

Atwater also blocked two punts and a pair of point-after kicks. "It's not just him (Rodriguez)," Central Valley head coach Scott Edwards said. "Other people were making mistakes, too. We need to get better on offense and special teams. We just have to clean things up."

Central Valley led 8-7 at intermission thanks to a safety and 1-yard TD run by Lumpkin.

Both teams scored once in the third quarter.

Nieto's 14-yard touchdown catch put the Hawks ahead for what proved to be the last time.

"We were working really hard," Rodriguez said. "We could have won the game. Atwater didn't do anything special. We kept making mistakes and shut down. We need to get more mentally stronger."

"We didn't react well to adversity," Edwards said. "The only thing we were consistent at was being inconsistent. It was a frustrating night."

Tied at 14-all, Atwater outscored Central Valley 20-6 in the final period.

Facing an insurmountable deficit, Ghiorso scampered 60 yards for a TD late in the fourth quarter.

"They came out ready to play in the second half,"
Rodriguez said. "They were mentally stronger than us.
They kept pushing and we folded. We need to be able to finish games."

Central Valley will face visiting Sierra (0-1) on Friday at Bulldog Stadium.

The contest will begin at 7 p.m.

"It's definitely going to be a tough game," Rodriguez said. "It's going to be physical. We can't shut down when bad things happen."