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CV begins defense of its WAC title with 28-19 win
Barragan, Sanchez lead Central Valley past Livingston
Hawk Nasson Sanchez rushed for 92 yards and two touchdowns and registered eight tackles versus the Wolves. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Unbeaten at 5-0 in the 2016 Western Athletic Conference standings, Central Valley's varsity football team began defense of its title Friday night on the road.

Running back/safety Estevan Barragan and fullback/linebacker Nasson Sanchez both filled key roles as the Hawks earned a hard-fought 28-19 victory.

"There wasn't any pressure," Barragan said. "We were ready. We had a good week of practice. They picked us for their Homecoming game. They thought they were going to beat us. It sparked a fire in us."

The Hawks improved to 4-2 overall and 1-0 in conference play.

The Wolves dropped to 2-4 and 0-1.

Los Banos (6-0, 1-0) and Patterson (5-1, 1-0) were both picked to finish ahead of Central Valley in the WAC this season.

"We've been working hard," Barragan said. "We don't care about the rankings that are put up on websites. We got to win out to get a good seed for playoffs."

Central Valley amassed 19 first downs and 363 yards of total offense versus Livingston.

The Hawks rushed for 264 yards and four touchdowns on 41 carries.

Barragan carried the ball 17 times for 130 yards and two TDs.

Sanchez added 92 yards and two scores on 10 attempts.

Miguel Jimenez completed 11 of 20 passes for 99 yards.

Six different players caught at least one pass, including Sanchez (2-16), Gabriel Rodriguez (3-29), James Murphy (2-21), Ryan Palecek (1-14), Gabriel Story (2-10) and Derek Bolivar (1-8).

Angel Arellano made all four of his point-after kicks.

Christian Palomares averaged 50 yards and tallied one touchback on four kickoffs.

Palomares averaged 43 yards and had one of his three punts downed inside Livingston's 20.

Barragan's presence on the field benefitted the rest of his Hawk teammates.

"Everywhere I went, No. 21 was following me," he said. "Sometimes, I would have two linebackers following me. That was a good thing. That opened things up for my fullback and receivers."

Barragan and Sanchez both made a team-high eight tackles on defense.

Bolivar collected seven tackles.

Palecek and Daniel Ward chipped in with six tackles apiece.

Central Valley and Livingston engaged in a defensive battle in the opening half.

Each team allowed one touchdown.

"They gave us everything they had," Barragan said. "We should have scored more points."

The Hawks outscored the Wolves 21-12 after intermission.

Barragan's second rushing TD and Arellano's fourth PAT gave Central Valley a nine-point lead with 6:21 remaining in the game.

"There were no negative vibes," Estevan said while talking about his team's mood prior to the start of the third quarter. "We were positive. I had a good feeling we were going to come back stronger in the second half. Livingston is way better this year. Their offense is more efficient. They know what they're doing."

Central Valley will battle unbeaten Los Banos this Friday at Ceres High.

The WAC contest will get underway at 7 p.m.

The Hawks have won their last 10 conference games dating back to the 2015 season.

"I watched Los Banos play against Chowchilla," Barragan said. "They're a very confident team. They don't make a lot of mistakes. That's what makes them great. We'll have a good game plan."