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Former CV coach finds a new home
Mountain House hires McCloskey
Former Central Valley football leader Jason McCloskey will coach at Mountain House High School this fall. The Hawks posted a 6-5 record and qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs for the first time in program history in 2013. - photo by DALE BUTLER/Courier file photo

Jason McCloskey announced that he would not be returning as head coach of Central Valley High School's varsity football program in 2014 on Feb. 19.

"I don't know where I'm going to land," McCloskey said. "I'm not moving out of the area. I'm going to help some program out this fall. I'm looking forward to a new challenge."

McCloskey has been tapped to be the founding head coach of Mountain House's gridiron program.

Located northwest of Tracy, the new high school will open on Aug. 20 with freshmen and sophomore students.

"It's a little bittersweet," said Jason, who will also teach health and physical education at Mountain House. "But you got to move on. I'm going to miss the kids the most. As soon as I resigned from Central Valley, I had three potential landing spots within a month. I was lucky enough to get this position."

The Mustangs will compete at the junior-varsity level as members of the Trans-Valley League this upcoming season.

Home games will be played on campus at a stadium.

Mountain House will battle under the lights and on FieldTurf.

"The community support is amazing," McCloskey said. "The booster club has already raised over $10,000."

McCloskey coached varsity football at Central Valley for two seasons. The Hawks amassed an 11-10 record.

"I had a three-year plan to turn the program around," McCloskey said. "We did it in two. I'm very proud of what we were able to accomplish."

Central Valley accomplished several firsts in 2013.

The Hawks qualified for the playoffs and compiled a winning record (6-5).

Central Valley also improved its head-to-head record versus crosstown-rival Ceres High to 7-1.

McCloskey relied heavily on running back Ja'Quan Gardner and dual-threat quarterback Kendel Johnson.

Gardner broke the Stanislaus District's career and single-season rushing yard records.

The three-year standout racked up 2,467 yards and 27 touchdowns in 2013. Ja'Quan ranks first on the District's career rushing yards list (6,014). He tallied a program-best 67 TDs in 31 games.

Johnson rushed for 1,091 yards and 11 touchdowns this past season. He passed for 783 yards with 10 TDs and eight interceptions.

"We spread teams out and caused confusion," McCloskey said.

Central Valley had a combined record of 19-41, and no winning seasons or postseason appearances from 2006-11.

"We have the kids going in the right direction," McCloskey said. "I'll be watching from a far to see what they do."

Jason and his wife Lindsey live in Modesto.

Lindsey teaches at Chavez Jr. High in Ceres. Their three sons, Jacob, Connor and Luke, attend Ceres Unified schools.

Jason will make the hour-plus-long roundtrip commute to teach and coach.

"I'm looking forward to developing a new program," McCloskey said. "I found a home where I'm supported by everyone. I've met with some of the students. They're young but they're going to be fun to work with. I'll keep evolving as a coach. I'll be happy to make that drive to that little community and do what I can for the school."