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The long journey will always be one Clayton Valley Charter linebacker Dylan Seeley and the rest of the Ugly Eagles’ senior class will remember forever.
Their freshman year, they had 13 players at practice, not really looking like a squad that would accomplish special things together. But they stuck it out, trusted the process and never looked back together.
And just look where they are now.
These Clayton Valley seniors are in school lore forever, owning East Bay Athletic League, North Coast Section, Northern California and state titles on their record marks.
“Speaking from our perspective, we came from practicing with 13 dudes our freshman year to saying, ‘Hey, keep the faith and just keep grinding it out,’” Seeley said. “We stuck to that all four years together. We worked in this offseason during COVID when people didn’t even believe we were going to have a season. We ended up pulling it out.
Ever since these seniors were freshmen, varsity head coach Tim Murphy saw the special things that were in store.
Murphy saw how invested they were. How mature they were. The talent. The leadership.
It was only a matter of time before they became champions in every sense.
“This was a really good senior class,” Murphy said. “They’re one of those groups that since they were freshmen they never got in trouble, always worked hard. They were probably more mature than guys that were older than them. Just to see them go out the right way, and it’s a good parent group, too. I think you just get closer to kids that way because you can erase your ego from the winning and losing and you see more of the blood, sweat and tears that they go through.”
Earning championships is just what they did, too.
In 2019, Clayton Valley captured a North Coast Section title, then Northern California and state titles following a 5-5 regular season in the incredibly daunting East Bay Athletic League Mountain Division.
However, they heard the doubters. They weren’t winning league games yet. Although they had all the other crowns, what they lacked was a league crown in the EBAL – filled with elite programs like California, Monte Vista and San Ramon Valley.
So, they came back with a vengeance and made sure to silence the doubters.
This year, the seniors went undefeated in EBAL play, back behind some ugly wins – just the way the Ugly Eagles like it, beating Cal by four, Monte Vista by seven and San Ramon Valley by three.
“Especially coming off last year, winning a state championship, having a lot of people doubting us in the EBAL saying that we shouldn’t have been there,” Seeley said. “It was just an emotional season for us to just come out and prove ourselves. We ended at 3-0, so we couldn’t be happier.”
Today, they have every piece of the puzzle before the seniors all move on to the next part of their athletic and academic journeys.
“I’m happy,” said Clayton Valley senior quarterback Jake Kern. “It’s the missing link that we didn’t have. I have a NorCal championship, an NCS championship and a state championship, but I didn’t have a league championship.”
“I feel amazing,” said Clayton Valley senior linebacker and tight end Andrew Woolard Jr. “Words can’t even describe it. It feels great to win league champs. That was the last thing we had to do was state, NorCal, NCS. League was the last thing on our checklist, and we got that off.”
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