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Ceres Jr. Bulldogs varsity youth football team reaches record heights
Ceres Raymond Riddle looks for running room against Travis during the Bay Valley Gridiron League Super Bowl on Dec. 6 at Downey High School. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

The Ceres Jr. Bulldogs varsity youth football team's unprecedented run came to an end earlier this month in Modesto.

Unbeaten through their first 10 games, the Jr. Bulldogs lost 48-25 to the Travis Vikings of Fairfield in the Bay Valley Gridiron League Super Bowl on Dec. 6 at Downey High School's Chuck Hughes Stadium.

"It's tough seeing the kids cry," Ceres head coach Joseph Estrada said. "They really wanted to win."

The Valley Conference champion Jr. Bulldogs compiled a 9-1-1 overall record during their second year of competition.

The Vikings went 10-1-1.

"It's been a long journey," Estrada said. "I'm extremely proud of the kids. We beat some really good teams this year. All of the kids had fun."
Joshua Vasquez had two rushing touchdowns for the Jr. Bulldogs. He also returned a kickoff for a TD.

Zaire Eugene added one rushing TD.

Eugene, who contributed at receiver and cornerback, was slowed by a hip injury.

Zaire was cleared to play by his doctor leading up to the Super Bowl.

"The kid has so much talent," Estrada said. "I was aware of his situation. I didn't want it to get worse. His safety was more important than the win."

Javonte Bell tallied five rushing touchdowns for the Vikings. He also booted three two-point kicks.

Josue Perez tossed a TD pass to Michael Arango and scored once on the ground.

"We knew what they were going to do and we couldn't stop them," Estrada said. "We couldn't bring him (Bell) down. It drained us mentally."
The Jr. Bulldogs and Vikings tied 12-12 earlier in the year.

Ceres led 19-18 at halftime during the rematch.

Vasquez scampered 15 yards for a touchdown and returned a kickoff 85 yards for a score in the first quarter.

Eugene's 4-yard TD run on a reverse play and Vasquez's 1-point conversion catch gave the Jr. Bulldogs a slim lead with 36 seconds remaining in the opening half.

Bell accounted for all three of Travis' TDs. He had rushing touchdowns of 60, 2 and 45 yards.

Travis outscored Ceres 27-6 in the second half.

The Vikings increased their lead to 15 points, 34-19, with back-to-back touchdowns in the third quarter. Perez scored on a 1-yard QB keeper and tossed a 13-yard TD pass to a wide-open Arango.

The Jr. Bulldogs cut the deficit to 35-24 when Vasquez broke free for a 44-yard touchdown run with 54 seconds to play in the third quarter.

Travis put the game out of reach in the fourth quarter as Bell raced 37 and 24 yards for touchdowns.

Javonte totaled 168 yards on his five scores.

"We knew it was going to be a dogfight," Estrada said. "Penalties and missed tackles hurt us. I'm sad that we lost. I'm still happy for the kids. We did a lot of good things throughout the season."

The Jr. Bulldogs lost in the second round of the playoffs in 2013.

Ceres nearly made history this season by advancing to the Super Bowl for the first time.

"I had a good coaching staff this year," Estrada said. "Our players were disciplined."