Central Valley High School’s football team struggled to a 2-8 record last year thanks in large part to injuries.
The Hawks matched their 2022 win total four games into the 2023 season this past week.
Central Valley rolled to a 42-20 victory over the visiting Modesto High Panthers on Friday at CUSD Stadium.
“We expect way more this year,” Hawks’ senior quarterback Mario Gonzalez said. “Our chemistry is better. We’re having fun. That’s what you expect when you start winning games.”
Central Valley improved to 2-2 overall.
Modesto High dropped to 1-3.
“This is our first game that we did well on offense and defense,” Gonzalez said. “We were really clicking well when it mattered.”
Gonzalez tallied a career-high four touchdowns, including three passing and one rushing.
“I was giving the ball to our playmakers,” he said.
Gonzalez exited the contest in the third quarter after tweaking his right knee.
“It sucked last year knowing I couldn’t be on the field,” said Gonzalez, who suffered a season-ending collarbone injury during the third game of the 2022 campaign. “It feels great being out there. I’m more comfortable this year. I have a better understanding of our offense now. I’m showing what I would have done last season.”
Gonzalez tossed two touchdown passes to Anthony Ramirez and one to Josiah Sandoval.
Running back Tristan Villicana scored once on the ground.
Backup quarterback Darrius Jackson and running back Joey Zuniga combined for a touchdown.
Central Valley notched its second straight win and seized some much-needed momentum heading into conference play.
“We expected that,” Gonzalez said. “We’re a better team this year.”
“Our only concern was to stay locked in and forget about Ceres,” he added.
Central Valley defeated crosstown-rival Ceres High 34-8 the previous week.
The Hawks avoided a major letdown by beating the Panthers.
Central Valley scored a pair of touchdowns in the first quarter en route to building a commanding 28-12 lead in the opening half.
“The first half, we did great,” Gonzalez said. “We were scoring. Our defense was stopping them. Our energy was up. Everybody was having fun. This is how we expect every game to be.”
The Hawks will begin the Central California Conference portion of their schedule this week.
Central Valley will play host to El Capitan (3-1) this Friday at 7 p.m.
The Gauchos rolled to a 31-14 victory against the Hawks during the 2022 season.
El Capitan and Central Valley tied for last place in the CCC standings.
“League is way different than preseason,” Gonzalez said. “The CCC is pretty tough. We like the challenge.”
“Last year, we were the worst team in league,” he added. “We’re going to surprise teams this season.”
Dawgs begin WAC play
Ceres High’s football team will travel to Lathrop this Friday to face the Spartans.
The Western Athletic Conference opener will kick off at 7 p.m.
The Bulldogs are coming off a bye week following a 34-8 loss to crosstown-rival Central Valley on Sept. 1.
Ceres High and Lathrop have identical 1-2 records.
“I think we’ll bounce back,” Bulldogs’ quarterback Donovan Osuna said following the crosstown game. “The loss to Central Valley won’t define this team.”