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A Storybook Season
Ceres High freshman football players raised their hands above their heads and formed V signs with their fingers to symbolize their accomplishment on Thursday at Bulldog Stadium, a 26-7 Valley Oak League title-clinching victory over city-rival Central Valley.

"It feels good to beat them on our home field," Ceres High quarterback Bryson Waring said. "It was a really good, competitive game. I have a lot of respect for that team. A lot of their players are my buddies."

The Bulldogs shared the conference title at 6-1 with Oakdale, a team it beat 14-6 during Week 2 at the Corral. Ceres High was supposed to finish behind the VOL's Big Three (Mustangs, Manteca Buffaloes and Sonora Wildcats) in the standings.

"We were the underdogs in this league," Waring said. "Everybody doubted us. They thought we were just another Ceres team. We proved them wrong."

Waring tallied 70 yards and a pair of rushing touchdowns in the crosstown showdown.

Starting tailback Zach Naylor ran for 97 yards and one score on 11 carries, and caught one pass for 18 yards. He also had an interception on defense.

Backup running back Eric Garcia scored a TD.

Jr. Moniz carried the ball three times for 41 yards. He picked off a Central Valley pass as well.

Playing with a broken right thumb, Sterling Shaw led the Hawks (3-4 VOL) with 124 yards rushing and one touchdown on 26 carries.

"We knew what we had to do," he said. "But in the end, they wanted it more. It hurts coming up short."

After trading scores with Central Valley in the opening 10-plus minutes, Ceres High reeled off 20 straight points to put the game out of reach.

"As much as we score, our defense is the strength of our team," Bulldogs head coach Bill Curlis said.

Trailing 7-6, Naylor snatched a hand-off from Waring and scampered 54 yards for TD.

Ceres High outscored Central Valley 14-0 in the second half.

Bryson scored on a 2-yard run up the middle in the third quarter.

The Bulldogs increased their lead to 19 on Garcia's 6-yard run and Waring's two-point conversion run in the fourth quarter.

Moniz intercepted a Hawk pass at the Bulldogs' 20-yard line with 37 seconds to play. Bryson took a victory knee.

"If we would have worked as a team like they did, we would have dominated," Central Valley linebacker Kyle Martinez said.

Ceres High totaled 198 points on offense, 148 more than its opponents, in VOL play.

"We were confident but we still had to do our part to win," Waring said. "Everyone did their job."

Curlis took great joy in watching his team celebrate. To no one's surprise, Bulldog players dumped a bucket of ice water on their head coach.

"I knew it was coming," Bill said.

Ceres High made history by capturing its first league title at the frosh level since 2004. The Bulldogs won the Modesto Metro Conference title outright that season with a 5-0 record. The following year, Central Valley opened its doors.

"They're champions," Curlis said. "They'll keep that with them forever. That's huge."