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CV boys to vie for elusive Sac-Joaquin Section banner
Erick Martinez and Jesus Yepez
Erick Martinez Stucchi and Jesus Yepez plan to help Central Valley’s varsity boys soccer team continue its tradition of excellence this winter. The Hawks have won seven league titles and qualified for the playoffs 11 times under head coach Omar Leon’s guidance. - photo by Dale Butler

Central Valley’s varsity boys soccer program has won seven league titles and participated in the playoffs 11 times during Omar Leon’s coaching tenure.

The Hawks will try to end years of frustration by claiming their first section championship this winter.

“The kids know the expectations are very high,” Leon said. “The pressure is there.”

Central Valley’s top returners are Erick Martinez (Sr.), Cesar Grajeda (Sr.), Isaac Juarez (Sr.), Jesus Yepez (Jr.), Abel Calvo (So.) and Joel Arellano (Sr.).

The Hawks’ top newcomers are Heriberto Paz Benitez (So.), Sebastian Castillo (Sr.) and Alejandro Gonzalez (Jr.).

Martinez was voted Central California Conference Goalkeeper of the Year as a junior.

He totaled 123 saves.

Grajeda was named to the CCC First Team.

He had two goals.

Juarez earned second-team all-conference accolades.

He had four goals and three assists.

Yepez, Calvo and Arellano received honorable-mention recognition.

Yepez had 13 goals and five assists.

Calvo had three goals and one assist.

Arellano had two goals and two assists.

“We have a really good group this year,” Leon said. “The kids are committed. They’re motivated.”

The Hawks accomplished a lot during the 2018-19 campaign.

Central Valley amassed a 20-6-2 overall record, qualified for the CIF Northern California Regional Championship Tournament for the first time, advanced to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-II finals and finished first in the Central California Conference (10-2-0).

“Central Valley boys soccer has a reputation of winning,. We don’t want to be the team that goes against the statistics.”
Coach Omar Leon

“Central Valley boys soccer has a reputation of winning,” Leon said. “We don’t want to be the team that goes against the statistics.”

The goal of winning a section title has remained elusive.

The Hawks lost in the finals for the second time in three years a season ago and has an all-time record of 0-6 in championship games. Top-seeded Central Valley fell 3-2 via penalty kicks to No. 2 Bella Vista last winter.

“Like everything in life, you move on,” Leon said. “But you try to do your best the next time you get a chance. I’m envisioning winning the blue banner. It’s going to happen sooner or later.”