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McCloskey will not return as head coach of CV's varsity football program next fall
Jason walking away for personal reasons
Jason McCloskey will not return as head coach of Central Valley High School's varsity football team next fall. The Hawks posted a combined record of 11-10 and qualified for the playoffs once during McCloskey's two-year stint. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Central Valley High School’s varsity football program will compete under the direction of a new leader next season.

Jason McCloskey, 40, will not return as head coach.

McCloskey made the announcement to his players Wednesday afternoon.

“Someone was spreading a nasty rumor that I got fired as the football coach there,” McCloskey said. “I resigned my position as P.E. teacher for personal reasons. It wasn’t easy to do. I’m invested in the kids and school. But it’s the right thing for me to do for my family and me at this point. It’s tough. Part of me wants to be there.”

Ceres Unified School District posted the job opening for P.E. teacher/head varsity football coach on on Feb. 19. Applications may be submitted through March 5.

McCloskey will continue to work on campus until the 2013-14 school year ends. He teaches five periods of weight training.

“I have nothing bad to say about Central Valley and Ceres Unified School District,” he said. “I wanted to make a change. It’s time for me to find a different place to call home.  I’m young. I still have plenty of life in me.”

McCloskey coached varsity football at Central Valley for two seasons. The Hawks amassed an 11-10 record.

Central Valley accomplished several firsts in 2013.

The Hawks qualified for the playoffs and compiled a winning record (6-5).

Central Valley also improved its head-to-head record versus crosstown-rival Ceres High to 7-1.

McCloskey relied heavily on running back Ja’Quan Gardner and quarterback Kendel Johnson.

Gardner broke the Stanislaus District's career and single-season rushing yard records. The three-year standout racked up 2,467 yards and 27 touchdowns in 2013. Ja’Quan ranks first on the District's career rushing yards list (6,014). He tallied a program-best 67 TDs in 31 games.

Johnson, a dual-threat QB, rushed for 1,091 yards and 11 touchdowns this past season. He passed for 783 yards with 10 TDs and eight interceptions. Kendel also had a 23-yard TD catch.

Gardner ran for 378 yards and four touchdowns on 35 carries during 15th-seeded Central Valley's 69-55 loss to No. 2 Manteca in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III playoffs. He also tossed a 4-yard TD pass to Christian Romo.

Johnson totaled 221 yards and three scores on the ground.

The Buffaloes (13-2) captured section and Valley Oak League titles.

Gardner rushed for 330 yards and three TDs in a 43-34 loss to Central Catholic in Western Athletic Conference play.

Johnson had 159 yards, two touchdowns and one pick.
The Raiders (15-1) won State, NorCal and Section championships.

Central Valley had a combined record of 19-41, and no winning seasons or postseason appearances under founding head coach Tim Garcia’s guidance from 2006-11.

“I’m going to miss working with the kids,” McCloskey said. “That’s why I coach. There’s still plenty of room for improvement. They’re going to be a tough team if they play to everybody’s strengths. I hope they do great.”

McCloskey hasn’t ruled out coaching elsewhere next season.

“I don’t know where I’m going to land,” he said. “I’m not moving out of the area. I’m going to help some program out this fall. I’m looking forward to a new challenge.”