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Gridiron Honors
CV star running back Gardner voted Western Athletic Conference MVP
Bulldog teammates Brad Bussard and Dylan Canatsy made up one of the top quarterback-receiver tandems in the Stanislaus District. Canatsy, right, and Bussard both earned all-Western Athletic Conference honors. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Ja'Quan Gardner was selected Western Athletic Conference Most Valuable player in a vote by the league's coaches on Nov. 19 in Patterson.

The Central Valley High School senior edged out Central Catholic's Matt Ringer and Pacheco's Frank Ginda.

Gardner rushed for 1,407 yards and 17 touchdowns for the fourth-place Hawks (3-3).

"He was superior on the field," Hawks head coach Jason McCloskey said. "He dominated the WAC. His production alone was ridiculous. He deserves every possible award there is for the person he is. He's a humble guy."

Central Valley teammates Matt Smith (Sr.), Danny Alvarado (Jr.), Kendel Johnson (Sr.), Jose Medina (Sr.), Alex Medina (Sr.), Ben Anitelea (Sr.) and Raul Godinez (Sr.), and Ceres High's Dylan Canatsy (Sr.), Caleb McDade (Jr.), Brad Bussard (Jr.), Harman Chung (Sr.) and Ramon Coral (Sr.) were also recognized.

"I don't think we got the full credit we deserved," McCloskey said. "I would have liked to see a few more first-teamers."

Smith and Canatsy were both named to the WAC First Team.

Matt started at tackle on the offensive line.

"He (Matt) dominated every game," McCloskey said. "The other coaches recognized that."

Dylan starred at receiver for the sixth-place Bulldogs (1-5).

Canatsy caught 35 passes for 485 yards and five touchdowns.

Alvarado, Johnson, Anitelea, Jose Medina, Alex Medina, McDade, Bussard and Chung all earned second-team, all-conference accolades.

Danny started and excelled at center.

"He was also impressive," McCloskey said.

Kendel ran Central Valley's read-option offense while contributing at quarterback.

Johnson rushed for 494 yards and four touchdowns. He totaled 272 yards, two TDs and eight picks through the air.

"We're one of four teams in the Stanislaus District to have two players rush for over 1,000 yards," McCloskey said. "He deserves some credit. He worked hard all summer long. He did exactly what we wanted him to do this season."

Ben tallied 66 tackles and 21/2 sacks at inside linebacker.

"He led the WAC in tackles for the second year in a row," McCloskey said.

Jose (DL) registered 33 tackles and five sacks.

Alex (DE/OLB) collected 22 tackles and three sacks.

Brad passed for 1,401 yards with 12 touchdowns and nine interceptions during his first year at quarterback. Caleb (OL) provided protection.

Harman hauled in 25 passes for 323 yards and four TDs at tight end.

Godinez and Coral were honorable-mention picks.

Raul ranked second in the WAC in tackles (56) while contributing at defensive end/outside linebacker. He also had 11/2 sacks and one interception.

Ramon (DE/OLB) had 27 tackles.