Erik Mejia, Oso Fregoso and Gabriel Quezada accomplished a lot together as key members of Central Valley's varsity football program.
The 2017 grads capped off their prep gridiron careers at the 32nd Annual North-South Rotary All-Star Game Saturday night in Merced.
"It's an honor to have three players go to the all-star game," Quezada said. "It's definitely not a surprise. We had a phenomenal season. Stats can show it. Records can show it. All three of us had success. We worked hard."
"It was very exciting to be able to team up with them again," Fregoso added. "It was cool for us to represent not only our school but our city. It was a fun experience."
Mejia, Fregoso and Quezada combined for 26 sacks while starring on the Hawks' defensive line this past fall.
Erik won the 2016 Western Athletic Conference Most Valuable Player award.
Mejia had 42 tackles, four sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery in 10 games.
Oso was voted the WAC's Outstanding Defensive Player.
Fregoso racked up 72 tackles, 10 sacks, four forced fumbles, two pass deflections and one fumble recovery in 11 games.
"I've always wanted to participate in one of the high school all-star football games," Fregoso said. "I was shocked and happy when I found out through an email. It was very humbling getting a chance to play in the game. That was one of my main goals."
Gabriel was named WAC Outstanding Defensive Lineman.
He racked up 44 tackles, 12 sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in 11 games.
Quezada was a spectator at the Rotary All-Star contest in 2016, 2015 and 2014.
"I remember between my freshman and sophomore years, I went to the game and watched (2014 Central Valley grad) Ja'Quan Gardner," Gabriel said. "It definitely gave me some motivation. The ride home, I told (then CV lower-level coach) Joe Borba I was going to play in that game. Three years later, here I am."
Mejia, Fregoso and Quezada led Central Valley to new heights in 2016.
The Hawks posted a program-best 9-2 overall record, annexed their first conference title and participated in the playoffs for the second consecutive season.
Central Valley beat Patterson for the first time in seven meetings on its way to winning all five of its Western Athletic Conference games.
The Hawks also improved their head-to-head record versus the crosstown Bulldogs to 9-2.
Central Valley totaled 33 sacks and surrendered just 11.8 points per game.
"We had the best defensive line in the section," Quezada said. "Our numbers were phenomenal. We blew everyone out of the water. We all have different styles of playing. Erik is more aggressive. He plays with emotion. Oso is the mental guy. He uses his head more. He plays smarter. My strength is my physicality."
The Hawks finished 7-4 on the year and second in the WAC standings (5-1) in 2015.
"I'm proud of my teammates," Quezada said. "Hard work pays off. There's one goal that we didn't meet and that was to win a playoff game. We did win the WAC. We're going to be remembered."
Oso and Gabriel will both play football at the next level.
Quezada will team up with Gardner at Humboldt State this fall.
Fregoso signed with Occidental College.
Erik is considering competing at the junior-college level.
"It's definitely going to be different next year," Quezada said. "I'm going to miss not seeing Erik and Oso lined up next to me. We're all super close friends. We've grown up playing on the same teams. We set the bar high this season and we played to it. The most enjoyable part was all the havoc we created throughout the year rushing the quarterback and stopping the run. Without a line, a team is nothing. Linemen carry teams. Defense wins games."
The North-South Rotary All-Star Football Game wass held at Golden Valley High School's Veterans Stadium.