Central Valley varsity boys soccer head coach Omar Leon sent out a mass e-mail to teachers, administrators and other school employees telling them about his team's success and asking for their support leading up to Thursday's crosstown showdown with the Bulldogs.
"I got a lot of replies back," he said. "They couldn't believe it."
The Hawks, ranked No. 8 in the nation and No. 2 in the state by MaxPreps.com, didn't disappoint their fans.
Host Central Valley pulled away for a 5-1 victory, their 11th straight win.
The Hawks and Bulldogs put their perfect Western Athletic Conference records on the line last week.
"Everybody promoted the game yesterday," Leon said. "Normally, we don't have that type of crowd. There are usually five people."
The Hawks improved to 17-1-0 on the year and 5-0 in the WAC standings.
The Bulldogs dropped to 9-3-0 overall and 5-1 in conference play.
"The kids didn't want to lose," said Leon, whose team is vying for its sixth straight league title.
"It's extra special because we're crosstown rivals," Central Valley senior striker Omar Orozco said. "There's a possibility we can win all of our games."
Orozco scored a game-high two goals against Ceres High.
Daniel Hernandez, Ozzie Ramos and Juan Medrano all had one goal.
Jairo Ramos and Angel Lopez both dished out one assist.
Hawk goalkeeper Alex Vazquez made two saves.
Freshman Adrian Espinoza accounted for the Bulldogs' lone goal.
Goalkeeper Nicolas Martinez had nine saves.
Central Valley did just about everything right against Ceres High.
The Hawks failed to execute while trying to drench their head coach with ice water following the conclusion of the game.
"I felt someone behind me," Leon said. "I moved by instinct. They got my butt a little bit."
Central Valley held a slim 2-1 lead at halftime.
Orozco finished from close range in the sixth minute.
Espinoza evened the score when he converted a penalty kick.
Hernandez drove a free kick past a wall of Bulldog defenders and into the lower-right corner of the goal with less than 10 minutes to play in the opening half. Martinez tried to make a diving stop, but couldn't corral the ball.
Ceres High's intensity dropped after Central Valley increased its lead to 3-1 early in the second half.
Orozco scored in the 47th minute.
Ozzie and Juan added goals in the 54th and 60th minutes, respectively.
"I'm not surprised at all," Orozco said. "We have a lot of returning players from last season. Ozzie controlled the middle. We just played the better game. The first half was competitive. Once the third goal went in, Ceres High gave up."
"Anything can happen," said Leon, who didn't relax until after his team tallied its fourth goal. "You have to stay focused. You can't lose concentration. I thought it was going to be a closer game. We took advantage of the wind in the second half."
"You got to play mistake free to beat Central Valley," Bulldogs head coach Javier Mercado said. "They got talent. They don't change their style of playing either. This might be their year."
Central Valley students with campus ID cards received free admission into last week's game.
"It was like a party at the end," Leon said. "Everyone was happy."
"It surprised me," Orozco said. "Everyone came down here to watch us. Usually they just support the football players. It was fun."
Central Valley and Ceres High had a combined record of 26-4 as of Monday.
"A lot of people know where Ceres is because of boys soccer," Leon said. "The kids deserve all the credit. We need to do a better job of recognizing them."
"There's a lot of talent around," Orozco added. "I was supposed to go to Ceres High, but I came here to be with my friends."
Leon considered walking away from coaching at the end of last season. The Hawks lost in the section finals for the third time.
"My intention is to keep doing it," he said. "I love it."