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New year, new hope for CVHS football
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Central Valley High School's varsity football team fell one win shy of qualifying for the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs for the first time in program history in 2011.

The Hawks compiled a 4-6 overall record and tied for fourth place in the Western Athletic Conference (2-4) with Ceres High and Livingston.

The Bulldogs won 3 of 10 games on the year.

Central Valley will make its 2012 debut under new head coach Jason McCloskey's guidance on this Friday when it travels to Downey High School to face the Gregori Jaguars. Kickoff slated for 7:30 p.m.

Ceres High will play host to Modesto High on Friday (7:30 p.m.) at Bulldog Stadium.

McCloskey inherits a program that has yet to experience a winning season or advance to the playoffs. Central Valley, which fielded its first varsity team in 2006, had a combined record of 19-41 under Tim Garcia's direction.

The Hawks lost six all-league players to graduation.

"We're going to face teams that are more physical and talented," McCloskey said. "But we should never lose a game because we're too tired. We've been doing a lot of running."

Returning Hawk players Ja'Quan Gardner (running back/defensive back), Marcus Rodriguez (defensive line/offensive line), Nick Van Tuinen (linebacker/tight end), Juan Plasencia (running back/defensive back), Ruben Casas (receiver/defensive back) and Abraham Navarro (quarterback/linebacker) will lead the way this season.

"You can go up and down the roster," McCloskey said. "We have a lot of depth."

Gardner, Central Valley's best all-round player, had a record-breaking first season at the varsity level as a sophomore in 2011. He set team marks for yards and touchdowns in a single season and game. Ja'Quan totaled 1,985 yards and 25 touchdowns. He carried the ball 218 times and didn't fumble once.

Central Valley newcomers Angelo Bermudez (RB/WR/DB), Milton Uti (TE/LB), Marcus Clark (WR/DB), Benjamin Anitelea (RB/LB), Raul Godinez (RB/WR/DB), Jesus Medina (DL/OL) and Jose Medina (DL/OL) were standouts on last year's 7-3 junior-varsity squad.

The Hawks will use multiple formations on defense.

"We got pushed around last year," defensive coordinator Antone Lopez said. "This season, we're meaner. I got to reign them back sometimes. We don't want to turn into the Raiders."

Ceres High won the MMC crown, participated in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs for the second year in a row and compiled a 6-5 overall record in 2004. The Bulldogs haven't generated much success the past seven years, totaling 12 wins and 58 losses with zero postseason appearances.

"Everyone's ready for the season to start," senior quarterback/defensive back Blake Hurst said. "I have high expectations for my team and myself."

Hurst, Jorge Arroyo (RB/DB), Caden Johnson (WR/DB) and Devon Ruger (linebacker/running back/ quarterback/punter) are Ceres High's top returning players.

Hurst injured his left knee while scrimmaging against Escalon on Saturday and will most likely miss this week's opener.

Blake passed for 1,435 yards and 10 touchdowns his junior year.

Devon, a second-team all-WAC honoree in 2011, will fill in for Hurst.

"I didn't expect to be quarterback," Ruger said. "But I'm going to do my best for the team."

Dylan Canatsy (WR/DB), David Page (WR/DB), Domingo Bermudez (WR/DB) and Pietro Puducay (OL/DL) are the Bulldogs' top newcomers.