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Hawks win again, close in on first-ever conference title
Central Valleys varsity football program is enjoying its most successful season to date under third-year head coach Scott Edwards guidance. The Hawks improved to 7-1 on the year and 3-0 in the WAC this past week. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Central Valley's varsity football team continued its historical run this past week.

The Hawks improved to a program-best 7-1, seized sole possession of first place in the Western Athletic Conference at 3-0 and secured their sixth consecutive victory with a 37-16 win over Pacheco Friday night in Los Banos.

The Panthers dropped to 4-4 overall and into second in the WAC standings (2-1).

"We're in a pretty good place," Central Valley third-year head coach Scott Edwards said. "There's still a lot of room to grow."

The Hawks piled up 312 yards of offense, including 255 on the ground.

Central Valley quarterback Willie Soriano rushed for 80 yards and two touchdowns on seven carries.

He completed 4 of 11 passes for 57 yards.

"I'm not surprised," Edwards said. "He's like everybody else. You get better with more repetition."

Jonathan Barragan carried the ball 17 times for 101 yards and one touchdown.

Barragan eclipsed the 100-yard mark for the fifth straight game.

He also scored his 10th TD of the season.

Gerardo Solorzano rushed for 59 yards and one touchdown on 11 attempts.

Gabriel Quezada caught one pass for 47 yards.

Estevan Barragan had 14 tackles, two pass deflections and one fumble recovery.

Nasson Sanchez had eight tackles and one fumble recovery.

David Serrano had seven tackles and one forced fumble.

Oso Fregoso had six tackles and two forced fumbles.

Erik Mejia had six tackles and one forced fumble.

Quezada chipped in with four tackles, one sack and a 14-yard fumble-return touchdown.

Efrain Garcia recovered one fumble.

"It was a very enjoyable night," Edwards said. "We did a lot of great things. Our defense was outstanding. The battle for field position is something we were ahead on. Special teams did so much for us, too."

Central Valley shut out Pacheco 10-0 in the opening half.

Solorzano scampered 20 yards for a TD and Angel Lopez drilled a career-best 47-yard field goal.

Lopez booted field goals of 46, 43, 41, 39 and 28 yards earlier this season.

"He's shown distance over 60 yards in practice," Edwards said. "We tried one from 55 earlier this year. He knows I have a lot of confidence in him. He's a high-level talent."

Central Valley exploded for 27 points in the final period.

Soriano scored on runs of 53 and 3 yards.

Barragan had a 41-yard rushing touchdown.

Quezada returned a fumble 14 yards for a TD.

Soriano completed a 47-yard pass to Quezada early in the fourth quarter
"It gave us new energy," Edwards said. "That led to five more big plays."

Central Valley has won 14 of its last 17 games dating back to Week 3 of last season.

The Hawks notched their second straight playoff berth the previous week.

Central Valley could win its first-ever conference title.

"The guys have earned everything they've gotten," Edwards said. "They're not afraid to roll up their sleeves, work hard and fight."

Central Valley will play host to 2015 WAC-champion Patterson (1-7, 0-3) this Friday at Ceres High.

Kickoff slated for 7 p.m.

"We're not taking them for granted," Edwards said. "They've played a tough schedule and were hit by the injury bug."