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Optimism abound as CHS, CV athletes begin practice for fall season
Amy Nguyen of Central Valleys varsity girls tennis team cycles through a hitting drill at practice. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

The members of Central Valley High School's varsity football program made the short walk from the locker room to the practice field just before 3:15 p.m. on Thursday.

Across town, the sound of cleats pounding concrete could be heard as Ceres High players made a similar journey.

Ceres High's and Central Valley's fall sports teams staged first official practices for their respective seasons this past week.

The fall schedule includes football, volleyball, cross country, water polo, cheerleading, boys soccer, girls tennis and girls golf.

"We've been waiting for this moment," said Noah Postley, a second-year lineman with the Hawks' football squad. "We're just trying to get better."

Postley and his Central Valley teammates dedicated time to conditioning before breaking off into group drills during the first hour of practice.

"Everybody is pushing each other and encouraging each other to do better," Postley said. "It's been real intense. This is my most important year. I got to make it count. I want the best for all of us out here."

Junior quarterback Chris Lubinsky and the Bulldogs worked on offensive execution during the latter part of practice.

Senior receiver Austin Stiles outjumped two Ceres High defenders while hauling in a long pass from Lubinsky.

Ceres High (3-7, 2-4) and Central Valley (5-5, 2-4) tied for fourth place in the WAC standings on the gridiron last fall.

The Bulldogs played the role of spoiler with a 24-7 victory over the Hawks on the final day of the regular season.

Ceres High prevented Central Valley from securing its second straight playoff berth. The Bulldogs also snapped a seven-year losing streak against the Hawks.

"We had a pretty good week of practice," Lubinsky said. "We worked hard. There was some excitement. Our main focus was getting our first offense working in unison. I felt we did a pretty good job. I'm glad football is here. I can't wait to get back on the field and play some more games."

"The kids are all fired up for football," Hawks head coach Scott Edwards said. "Everything is positive right now. It's refreshing. Effort is never going to be a question with this group. We like where we're going."

"Our participation is a little better than the past," Bulldogs head coach Bret Durossette said. "We got some talent. We still have a lot of work to do."

The members of Ceres High's boys water polo program treaded water for five minutes just after 6 p.m. in the deep end of their school's pool during Thursday's practice.

The Bulldogs posted an 8-3 overall record, qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-II playoffs and finished second in the WAC standings (6-2) in 2014.

"Our goal over the next two weeks is to improve our conditioning so we can scrimmage," Ceres High head coach Tracy Bull said.

Returning and prospective members of Central Valley's and Ceres High's girls tennis teams practiced under the guidance of their respective head coaches.

The Hawks and Bulldogs both participated in the playoffs last season.

Second-place Central Valley (10-2) of the WAC earned a pair of 5-4 victories against third-place Ceres High (8-4).

The Hawks improved their all-time record versus the Bulldogs to 3-15.

"They're all beginners," Ceres High head coach Bryan Harden said. "We're starting over. I'm just looking for potential."