Central Valley High School’s junior-varsity football team collected seven wins, two losses and one tie and finished second overall in the Central California Conference standings this fall.
“We had a great season,” coach Antone Lopez said. “We were three plays away from being 10-0.”
The Hawks beat the El Capitan Gauchos, Merced Bears, Atwater Falcons, Buhach Colony Thunder, Enochs Eagles, Pacheco Panthers and Pitman Pride.
Central Valley lost to the Patterson Tigers and Ripon Indians.
The Hawks tied the Ceres High Bulldogs.
“Our expectations were to be better than last year,” Lopez said. “We were 2-3 during the COVID season. We knew pretty early this year we were pretty special. We got better as the year went on. We used a lot of bodies. They didn’t like to lose. They fought to the end every game.”
Mario Gonzalez, Amir Drakeford, Joey Zuniga, Tristan Villicana, Uriel Mendoza, Eddie Stewart and Andrue Olivas led the way.
Gonzalez, Villicana, Stewart and Olivas were team captains.
Gonzalez had more than a combined 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns passing and rushing. He ranked second on the team in tackles while logging playing time at outside linebacker.
“He was our leader,” Lopez said. “He was a dual-threat quarterback. He played with a lot of confidence. He always believed he could make the play. The other kids respected him. We don’t win seven games without him.”
Drakeford had more than 800 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground.
“He had an intimidation factor to him,” Lopez said. “He was the biggest and strongest kid out there.”
Zuniga had more than 800 yards and five touchdowns on the ground.
Villicana, a middle linebacker, ranked first on the team in tackles.
“He was our heart and soul,” Lopez said. “Everyone listened to and respected him. He called all the plays on defense. He was that guy for us.”
Olivas was a standout defensive tackle.
Mendoza and Stewart anchored Central Valley’s offensive line.