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Outlook bright for Ceres, CV
The 2009 fall high school sports season gets underway this week.

Ceres High's and Central Valley's athletic programs should experience a fair share of success.

Here are five reasons why Bulldog and Hawk fans should be excited:

1. Battle For Supremacy

Ceres High's and Central Valley's boys soccer teams entered unchartered territory a season ago. The Bulldogs participated in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV title game, placed second in the Valley Oak League standings and compiled a 15-4-3 overall record.

The Hawks captured the VOL crown-the school's first team championship in any sport-, advanced to the semifinal round of the playoffs and finished 17-3-2 on the year.

Both programs have the talent and coaching in place to reign supreme again.

The 2009 Bulldogs will be led by head coach Koeurn Phe, reigning VOL Most Valuable Player David Estrada (22 goals and five assists), and first-team, all-conference honorees Luis Martinez (17 goals and eight assists) and Kyle Cerny (six shutouts, 115 saves and 18 goals allowed).

Central Valley's Omar Leon (VOL Coach of the Year) returns seven all-league players, including Antonio Cabrera (13 goals and five assists), Daniel Ochoa (10 goals and four assists), Jose Ramirez (six goals), Gerardo Cazares (11 assists and two goals), Larry Hernandez (three goals and three assists), Bobby Chantavong and Billy Chantavong.

2. In A League Of Her Own

Ceres High girls tennis star McKenzy Harden will look to continue her dominance in the Valley Oak League.

She successfully defended her conference singles title and led the Bulldogs to a share of the team championship in 2008.

For the second straight season, McKenzy won all 32 of her matches and was voted the league's Most Valuable Player.

Harden has an astonishing 107-4 record over the past three years.

3. Hungry For More Success

Bulldog standout Alejandro Garcia will be seeking his second consecutive trip to the CIF State Cross Country Championships. He became the first Bulldog runner to qualify for the prestigious competition in a decade as a junior.

Garcia placed 77th in a field of 201 at the Division III varsity boys race. He completed the three-mile course at Fresno's Woodward Park in a personal-best 16 minutes, 29 seconds. Alejandro avenged Sac-Joaquin Section losses to Sonora's John Glick and El Camino's Chris Kigar.

Garcia placed fifth in the section, third at sub-sections and second in league. He also took first at the Stanislaus County Invitational, and a pair of Valley Oak League cluster meets.

If Alejandro stays healthy during his senior year, he could challenge for multiple titles.

4. Friday Night Lights

Central Valley's and Ceres High's football programs have posted a combined record of 10-32 in the Valley Oak League over the past three years.

Will either team have a breakthrough season in 2009?

The Hawks hope to improve on last year's 3-4 showing.

Losing quarterback Trevor Mew, lineman Tyler Dodd, receiver/defensive back Rick Rogers, tight end/linebacker Stephen Fonsworth and fullback/linebacker Timmy Henley to graduation was a big blow. All-state receiver Deangelo Williams transferred to Modesto High.

Hawk running back/defensive back Vince Lopez returns for his third varsity season. Central Valley's team captain totaled 1,149 yards (795 rushing and 354 receiving) and eight touchdowns as a junior. He also picked off four passes.

CV newcomers Jesse Hatfield (quarterback) and Greg Mathews (receiver) teamed up at the junior-varsity level in 2008 and as freshmen.

The Bulldogs won just two of their seven conference games in 2008.

Returning all-league selections Hadon Lopez, Josh Edwards and Justin Canatsy will fill key roles in Ceres High's quest for redemption.

Lopez tallied 87 tackles, five-and-a-half sacks and two fumble recoveries while playing middle linebacker at the varsity level as a sophomore. He also rushed for 370 yards and three scores at fullback.

Edwards threw for 1,732 yards and 14 touchdowns during his first season with the Bulldogs.

Canatsy caught 36 passes for 569 yards and four touchdowns.

The fourth installment of the Crosstown Classic will be held at Bulldog Stadium on Nov. 13. Central Valley currently holds a 2-1 head-to-head record against Ceres High. The Hawks won via blowout in 2008 (40-7).

5. Individual Excellence

Volleyball will be the first of three sports Central Valley's Alyssa Long and Ceres High's Jamie Beck and Jode Johnson participate in during the 2009-10 school year.

All three were recognized for their outstanding play on the hardwood last fall.

Long helped the Hawks quadruple their Valley Oak League win total from the previous season. The second-team, all-conference selection totaled 42 kills, 16 aces and 14 blocks in Central Valley's four victories.

Beck and Johnson were also named to the VOL second team.

Jamie ranked third in blocks (26) and sixth in kills (68). She also had 12 aces and eight digs.

Jode amassed 21 blocks, 39 kills, 44 digs and four aces.

Long, Johnson and Beck will play basketball in the winter and softball in the spring.