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Hawks sweep host of awards at WAC year-end meeting
Central Valley senior Erik Mejia has been voted Most Valuable Player of the Western Athletic Conference. Mejia starred on both the offensive and defensive lines. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Central Valley's varsity football team won nearly every major honor during the Western Athletic Conference year-end coaches meeting on Nov. 15 in Patterson.

"We had a great night as far as awards go," Hawks head coach Scott Edwards said. "It's representative of what other people saw in us."

Edwards, 2016 WAC Coach of the Year, led Central Valley to its first-ever league championship.

"We had a special season," Edwards said. "We did some things the program's never done before. Nobody can take the league title away. It's the first in school history. I wish I would have enjoyed the season more."

Senior lineman Erik Mejia was voted WAC Most Valuable Player.

He also earned first-team all-WAC honors for his dominance on both sides of the ball.

"It was unanimous," Edwards said while talking about the voting process for WAC MVP.

Mejia started at left tackle on offense and right tackle on defense.

He collected 18 tackles, one sack, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery in five conference games.

"I'm pretty excited," Erik said. "I didn't expect it. It's a great honor."

Senior Oso Fregoso was named the WAC's Outstanding Defensive Player.

He garnered first-team all-league recognition as well.

Fregoso had 31 tackles, including nine for a loss, five sacks, four forced fumbles, two pass deflections and one fumble recovery at defensive end.

"His stats were pretty impressive," Edwards said. "He led the league in sacks and tackles for loss, and was fifth in tackles. He set the tone for us, defensively."

Senior Gabriel Quezada was named the WAC's Outstanding Defensive Lineman.

"It's a great moment for me," Quezada said. "I'm super happy. I didn't think I was going to get an award. I exceeded my goals. Last year, one of the reasons I didn't start is I had trouble defending the run. I had the physical ability. It was all mental. I became a better player."

Quezada ranked second in conference play in sacks (six).

He also had 19 tackles, two pass deflections and one fumble recovery.

"He had a flair for making big-time plays," Edwards said.

Senior Angel Lopez was named the WAC's Outstanding Special Teams Player.

He led the conference in kick scoring (20), point-after-touchdown kicks (20), touchbacks (13) and field goals made (four).

"His confidence level is pretty high because he can routinely make long kicks," Edwards said. "Mentally, he's a pretty strong kid. He's quiet but has a fun personality. He's got a lot of talent and upside as a kicker if that's what he chooses to do in college."

Lopez booted field goals of 47, 41, 30 and 28 yards.

"We've seen him hit 57 in practice," Edwards said.

David Serrano (Jr.) earned first-team all-WAC honors for outstanding play on both offense and defense.

Serrano had 23 tackles, one forced fumble and one pass deflection at right tackle.

He started at left tackle on Central Valley's offensive line.

First-teamer Jonathan Barragan (Sr.) ranked second in the WAC in touchdowns (7), yards per game (116.0) and yards per carry (7.0), and third in rushing yards (580).

He also caught seven passes for 139 yards.

"Everyone knew we were going to run the football, and he consistently did," Edwards said. "He had a fantastic season."

Safety Estevan Barragan (Jr.) earned first-team all-league accolades for the second year in a row.

He ranked third in the WAC in tackles (45).

Estevan also had three pass deflections, one sack and one fumble recovery.

"He loves playing the game of football and plays it fast," Edwards said. "He has an exceptional motor."

Inside linebacker Nasson Sanchez (Jr.) was selected to the WAC First Team.

"He garnered a lot of respect from the other coaches in the league," Edwards said. "He got better and more consistent as the season went on. He had a knack for making big plays."

Fullback Gerardo Solorzano (Sr.) was selected to the WAC Second Team.

Solorzano ranked fourth in the WAC in touchdowns (5) and seventh in yards (327).

"He was a lot of fun to coach this year," Edwards said.

David Lezama (Sr.), Cipriano Salazar (Sr.), Chase Winchester (Sr.), Julian Gutierrez (Sr.) and Johnny Velasquez (Sr.) were honorable-mention picks.

Lezama and Salazar started at left guard and right guard, respectively, on offense.

Winchester, Gutierrez and Velasquez all played defensive back.

Chase had 16 tackles, eight pass deflections and one interception.

Julian had 18 tackles and two pass deflections.

Johnny had eight tackles and five pass deflections.

Central Valley won all five of its conference games.

The Hawks outscored their opponents, 170-41.

Central Valley had the top defense in the WAC.

The Hawks ranked second in offense.

"We came into the season as underdogs," Quezada said. "Nobody gave us respect. It definitely motivated us."

Added Estevan Barragan: "I knew this team was going to be great."

Stated Mejia: "Our hard work paid off."