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CV boys plan to maintain their tradition of excellence
Central Valleys varsity boys soccer program has three team captains this year, including Gerardo Flores (pictured), Victor Torres and Jonathan Garcia. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Central Valley's varsity boys soccer team has accomplished a lot under head coach Omar Leon's guidance.

The Hawks have claimed six conference titles and participated in the playoffs nine times since 2007.

The goal of winning a section title has remained elusive as Central Valley has lost five times in the finals.

"It's tough," Leon said. "I thought about stepping down a few times. But I still have the energy to do it. I love coaching. Hopefully, we get one before I decide to retire."

The 2018 Hawks will compete without standouts Andres Velasquez, Angel Lopez, Adrian Espinoza, Jacob Guerrero and David Montanez.

Velasquez, Lopez, Espinoza, Guerrero and Montanez graduated in June.

Andres' production last season earned him Western Athletic Conference Most Valuable Player honors.

"The expectation is always the same," Leon said. "We want to finish as high as we can in league and go to playoffs."

Central Valley's top returning players are Gerardo Flores (junior forward), Angel Arellano (senior forward/midfielder), Jonathan Garcia (senior utility), Axel Bautista (junior defender/midfielder), Gilberto Flores (junior defender/wing), Roberto Pelayo (junior midfielder), Victor Torres (junior midfielder) and Isaac Juarez (sophomore midfielder).

Gerardo ranked third in the WAC in scoring with 14 goals his sophomore year. He received second-team all-conference accolades.

Hawk newcomers include Joel Arellano (sophomore utility), Cesar Grajeda (sophomore defender), Mauricio Perez (sophomore goalkeeper), Erick Martinez (sophomore goalkeeper), Agustin Gutierrez (freshman forward) and Jesus Yepez (freshman midfielder).

Martinez transferred from Ceres High. Erick earned first-team all-conference honors at the varsity level as a freshman.

"Other groups have set the bar really high for them," Leon said. "They know they have to step up. It doesn't matter how much we practice and how much I scream at them. They have to make the right decisions."

The Hawks upset No. 1 East Union and No. 4 Rio Americano on their way to advancing to the 2017 Division-III title game.

Central Valley lost 3-1 to Lincoln in the section finals.

"For me, there's always pressure," Leon said. "My personal goal is to win something big before I stop doing this."
Pacheco (11-1-3), Livingston (11-2-2) and Central Valley (9-4-2) placed first, second and third, respectively, in the WAC standings last year.

The Hawks will relocate to the Central California Conference as part of the section's realignment plan in 2018-19.

"Before we move to another league, it would be a good feeling to win another title," said Leon, whose program won six straight conference crowns from 2008-13.

Central Valley compiled a 20-7-3 overall record last winter.