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Hawks defense allowing just 12.2 points per game this year
Hawks compile 4-1 record in preseason
Defensive linemen David Serrano (77) and Gabriel Quezada have accounted for nine of the Central Valley varsity football teams 17 sacks in 2016. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Central Valley High School's varsity football team has one of the stingiest defenses in the Stanislaus District.

It's no surprise considering the Hawks return eight of 11 starters from a year ago.

"We knew that was the strength of our team going into the season," Central Valley head coach Scott Edwards said.

The Hawks allowed just 12.2 points per game on their way to compiling a near-perfect 4-1 record during the preseason.

Defensive linemen Gabriel Quezada, Oso Fregoso, Erik Mejia and David Serrano have accounted for 15 of Central Valley's 17 sacks.

"We got a lot of faith in our front four," Edwards said. "We don't have to put extra guys in the box because of their strength and athleticism. That allows our linebackers a lot of freedom."

Quezada (6-foot-4, 255 pounds) had 25 tackles, six sacks, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and one pass deflection through the Hawks' first five games.

Fregoso (6-1, 215) collected 32 tackles and three sacks.

Mejia (6-1, 236) tallied 18 tackles and three sacks.

Serrano (6-3, 275) chipped in with 16 tackles, three sacks and one fumble recovery.

"Everyone is stepping up," Mejia said. "But it starts with us four. Our team relies on us to stop the run and put pressure on the quarterback. We've accepted the challenge. We haven't faced a team that has slowed us down."

Central Valley's top linebackers are Nasson Sanchez and Angel Rico.

Sanchez totaled 27 tackles and one sack in five games.

Rico had 17 tackles and one sack.

Jonny Velasquez (13 tackles, three interceptions and four pass deflections) and Chase Winchester (eight tackles, one interception and seven pass deflections) have contributed at cornerback.

Strong safety Estevan Barragan (40 tackles and three pass deflections) earned first-team all-conference honors as a sophomore last fall.

"We all have confidence in each other," Mejia said. "We all do our jobs and have fun."

Central Valley defeated Atwater 43-6, Grace Davis 34-7, Enochs 17-0 and West 30-20 in non-league play.

The Hawks allowed 11.0 points per game during their four victories.

Central Valley will open the Western Athletic Conference season this Friday.

The Hawks will face the visiting Livingston Wolves at Ceres High.

The homecoming game will get underway at 7 p.m.