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New-look CV grinds out 12-9 win against Atwater
Gabe Campos (2) and Central Valleys varsity football team opened the 2017 season Friday night, beating visiting Atwater 12-9 at Bulldog Stadium. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Central Valley's varsity football team managed to win its season opener last week despite being hurt by sloppy play.

The 2016 Western Athletic Conference-champion Hawks were penalized nine times for 95 yards and committed three turnovers during Friday's 12-9 victory over the visiting Atwater Falcons at Bulldog Stadium.

"Even though we won, we're not satisfied," senior safety/running back Estevan Barragan said. "We had too many penalties. It's good that this happened. We know what we did wrong and we'll fix it. We'll come back stronger."

Central Valley's new look offense-just three starters returned from last year's team-was limited to 256 total yards and two touchdowns.

The Hawks cashed in on just one of their five red-zone opportunities.

"We weren't doing things up to our standards," Central Valley head coach Scott Edwards said. "We showed flashes of what we're capable of being. A lot of our kids gave great efforts. We just made a lot of mistakes. We got to re-stress fundamentals. We got a lot of learning to do as a team-coaches and players alike."

The Hawks totaled 168 yards on the ground.

Barragan rushed for a team-leading 95 yards and one touchdown on 10 carries. He totaled 36 yards on four catches.

Nasson Sanchez ran for 31 yards on four carries.

Carlos Rodriguez gained 27 yards on five carries.

Central Valley quarterback Miguel Jimenez completed 10 of 18 passes for 91 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions.

Rodriguez had a 29-yard TD catch.

Gabe Campos (19 yards) and Luis Ramirez (10) each had one reception.

"He (Jimenez) did a good job of managing the offense," Edwards said. "His decision making for the most part was solid."

The two teams combined for just eight points in the opening half.

Atwater registered a safety in the first quarter.

Jimenez's 29-yard touchdown pass to Rodriguez gave the Hawks a 6-2 lead in the second quarter.

Carlos made the catch between two defenders.

Barragan busted loose for a 44-yard TD run in the third quarter.

"I was frustrated," Edwards said while talking about his team's lackluster performance. "It was really ugly play."

"We beat them pretty bad last year," Barragan added. "I knew they were going to give us everything they got."

Central Valley's revamped defense-eight starters were lost to graduation-surrendered just seven points last week.

Barragan made a team-high 15 tackles.

David Serrano and Efrain Garcia both collected five tackles and one sack.

Eduardo Tovar tallied two tackles and one sack.

Sanchez had seven tackles.

Gabe Campos, Phil Jackson and Mark Ramirez all had six tackles.

Ryan Palecek had five tackles.

"Our defense could have had a shutout," Edwards said. "Overall, we could have done a lot of things better. The bottom line is we lost focus during the week and it bled into the game."

The Hawks have won their last nine regular-season games dating back to the 2016 campaign.

"We know we had a great season last year," Barragan said. "We're not last year's team. We're a different unit. We'll start clicking soon. The good thing is we're 1-0 right now. That's what matters."

Central Valley will look to improve to 2-0 on the year when it hosts Sierra (0-1) this Friday at Ceres High.

Kickoff slated for 7 p.m.

Sierra topped Central Valley in 2016 (28-26), 2015 (23-13) and 2014 (56-0).

Sierra opened the 2017 season with a 19-7 loss to Ripon.

"I can't wait," Barragan said. "We've never beaten Sierra since I've been here. We'll be ready for them. If we do our jobs, we'll be fine. It's simple."

Added Edwards: "It will be a challenge for us. The last two years have been very close games. We've had the lead in the fourth quarter."