The Courier revisited the past on Dec. 16 by highlighting the play of the best quarterbacks, running backs and receivers I’ve watched and reported about from Ceres High and Central Valley since I started working as a sports reporter for the Ceres Courier in 2001.
Today, we recognize top defensive performers at the prep level for the past 19 years.
Erik Mejia (Central Valley, class of 2017) was voted the Western Athletic Conference’s Most Valuable Player during his final season with the league-champion Hawks. He had 42 tackles, four sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. Mejia earned first-team all WAC honors as a senior and junior.
Oso Fregoso (Central Valley, 2017) was named WAC Outstanding Defensive Player during his senior year. He racked up 72 tackles, 10 sacks, four forced fumbles, two pass deflections and one fumble recovery.
Gabriel Quezada (Central Valley, 2017) was selected WAC Outstanding Defensive Lineman during his senior year. He totaled 44 tackles, 12 sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
David Serrano (Central Valley, 2018) earned first-team all-conference honors as a senior and junior and second-team recognition as a sophomore.
Serrano had 58 tackles, six sacks and one forced fumble during his final year with the Hawks.
He tallied 43 tackles, three sacks, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and one pass deflection junior year.
Serrano finished with 69 tackles, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and one pass deflection sophomore year.
Sean McLeod (Central Valley, 2008) earned second-team all-Valley Oak League honors twice.
He accumulated 67 tackles, six sacks, two forced fumbles, two recovered fumbles, nine quarterback hurries and four pass deflections during his final season. He also returned a fumble recovery 96 yards for a TD.
McLeod managed to garner all-league recognition as a junior despite missing five games with a right knee injury. He tallied 16 tackles, including five for a loss, one sack, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery in conference play.
Cruz Leon (Ceres High, class of 2004) had a stellar senior campaign with the Bulldogs. The Central California Conference’s Outstanding Linebacker and first-team all-league selection made 97 tackles, had one sack and recovered one fumble. Leon was sidelined for more than 15 games during his prep career thanks to four knee injuries.
Hadon Lopez (Ceres High, 2011) was a four-year standout with the Bulldogs.
Lopez racked up 345 tackles, 71/2 sacks, six forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and one interception in 28 career games.
He missed 12 games due to injuries.
Lopez was selected to the VOL First Team as a sophomore.
He totaled 87 tackles, 51/2 sacks and two fumble recoveries.
Lopez managed to earn second-team, all-league honors his junior and freshman seasons despite being sidelined for a combined seven games due to knee and hand injuries.
He had 100 tackles, two sacks, one fumble recovery and one forced fumble as a sophomore.
He had 81 tackles, one interception and one fumble recovery as a freshman.
Lopez racked up 77 tackles and five forced fumbles while suiting up for five games during his final year with the Bulldogs. He missed half the season with a foot injury.
Luis Malagon (Ceres High, 2006) was named to the Modesto Metro Conference First Team as a junior.
He had 119 tackles, three sacks, one interception, which was returned 89 yards for a score, and one fumble recovery.
He registered a career-high 21 tackles against Franklin in the playoffs.
Malagon was named Ceres High’s Defensive Most Valuable Player his senior year.
He tallied 89 tackles and one fumble recovery.
He was an honorable-mention, all-MMC selection.
Malagon was shot to death inside Latino’s Bar on Mitchell Road in Ceres in 2016.
Estevan Barragan (Central Valley, class of 2018) was a three-time all-WAC selection.
He made a name for himself as a sophomore. Barragan had 103 tackles, five pass deflections, two interceptions, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery en route to earning first-team all-conference accolades.
Barragan was selected to the WAC First Team for the second year in a row during his junior campaign.
He registered 91 tackles, six pass deflections, one fumble recovery and one sack.
Barragan was a second-team, all-WAC performer senior year.
He collected a career-high 110 tackles, to go along with two pass deflections, one interception and one forced fumble.
Barragan led the WAC in tackles his senior and sophomore years.
Brian Borges (Ceres High, class of 2005) had a success-filled two-year career with the Bulldogs.
The two-time all-league selection registered 175 tackles, intercepted 10 passes and recovered two fumbles.
Borges was named to the Modesto Metro Conference First Team as a senior. He ranked first in the MMC with six interceptions, five of which came in the final six games. He also had 90 tackles and one fumble recovery.
A second-team all-CCC performer as a junior, Borges tallied 85 tackles, four picks and one fumble recovery.
Ricky Rogers (Central Valley, class of 2009) was a three-year starter.
He made the VOL First Team as a senior.
He garnered second-team, all-league honors as a junior.
Vince Lopez (Central Valley, class of 2010) earned second-team all-VOL honors twice during his three-year career.
Lopez totaled 12 interceptions.
He intercepted six passes, returning one 38 yards for a touchdown, senior year.
Lopez led the Hawks in picks with three as a junior.
He also had three interceptions as a sophomore.