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Delahoya ready to step up
Diego Delahoya
Senior Diego Delahoya will fill a bigger role on Central Valley High School’s football team this season. Delahoya was the Hawks’ top receiver last year. - photo by Dale Butler

Central Valley High School football head coach Derrick Goblirsch has seen a significant change in Hawks’ top returning receiver Diego Delahoya.

Bigger. Stronger. Faster.

Delahoya’s belief in himself is at an all-time high heading into his final season with the Hawks due to experience gained as a junior and his tireless work ethic.

“He’s definitely more confident,” Goblirsch said. “He’s a great kid. He works hard. Over the summer, he missed just one or two days. He’s not a super, vocal person. He leads by example.”

“I’m super confident in what I can do,” said Delahoya, who stands 5-foot-8 and weighs 145 pounds. “It comes from putting in work outside of practice with my teammates. I’m a way better player this year. I’ve gotten faster. I know what to expect. Last year, I wasn’t really confident. I was super nervous.”

A year removed from leading Central Valley in receptions (15), and receiving yards (242) and touchdowns (3), Delahoya’s production is expected to increase this fall as Goblirsch tweaked his team’s offensive philosophy. He installed a pass-first, spread offense.

Delahoya had limited opportunities a season ago as the Hawks relied heavily on the run. Central Valley’s rushing attack racked up 2,511 yards and 24 touchdowns.

Delahoya enjoyed a career night in the Hawks’ 48-27 loss to the Golden Valley Cougars. He caught six passes for 112 yards and two TDs.

"We want to get the ball to him. He’s a super smart football player. That’s one of his strengths—his understanding of the game. He runs good routes. He knows how to read space. He’ll always put the team first.”
Coach Derrick Goblirsch on Diego Delahoya

“He’s a guy we want to showcase,” Goblirsch said. “We want to get the ball to him. He’s a super smart football player. That’s one of his strengths—his understanding of the game. He runs good routes. He knows how to read space. He’ll always put the team first.”

“I’ll have a bigger role this year compared to last season,” Delahoya said. “It should be fun. I’m excited.”

Delahoya and Mario Gonzalez, Central Valley’s new quarterback, bonded during the offseason.

“Him and Mario developed chemistry outside of school over the last three months,” Goblirsch said. “They gravitated towards each other. That plays a big part in their relationship on the field. I can see them being one of the more successful combos we’ve had.”

“I didn’t know Mario last year,” Delahoya said. “Now, we’re really good friends. The main reason is because we hang out four to five times a week. We built chemistry. We know what we’re capable of doing. We should have some good success.”

Delahoya also wants to see his fellow pass catchers succeed under the lights, including receivers Jayson Casias, Amari O’Bryant and Anthony Ramirez, and tight end Elijah Jackson.

“If Diego’s getting more attention, somebody else is going to be open,” Goblirsch said. “He just wants the team to have success. He’s an unselfish player.”

“I’ll do whatever I can to help my team,” Delahoya added. “I can care less what my stats are if we win.”

Delahoya played organized football for the first time in the ninth grade.

“Baseball was always my No. 1 sport,” he said. “Once I played football, I fell in love with the sport. The energy is crazy. Pre-game is the most exciting part. You got nerves kicking in. Once the game starts, you don’t hear anything. You’re locked in. It’s just you on the football field.”

Delahoya and the Hawks compiled a 4-6 overall record and finished in sixth place in the Central California Conference standings (1-5) in 2021.

Central Valley won its first three games. The Hawks defeated the Pitman Pride, Pacheco Panthers and Ceres High Bulldogs prior to losing to the Enochs Eagles, Buhach Colony Thunder, Golden Valley Cougars, Patterson Tigers, Atwater Falcons and Merced Bears.

Buhach Colony and Atwater beat Central Valley by a combined 11 points. The Hawks lost 20-14 in overtime to the Thunder. The Falcons prevailed, 19-14.

The Hawks averaged 19.1 points per game on the season.

Central Valley lost 23 players to graduation, including eight defensive and seven offensive starters.

“We have a lot of upside,” Delahoya said. “I see our offense being way better. We’re really good but super young. I’d be surprised if we didn’t make playoffs. I think it’s a realistic goal. It’s just a matter if we stay healthy and are consistent for the whole season.”