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Bulldogs playoff bound
• Ceres High football program returns to playoffs after 16-year absence
Kahmi Smith
Bulldog Kahmi Smith scored two rushing touchdowns versus the Spartans. - photo by Dale Butler

The Sac-Joaquin Section released its playoff brackets for high school football on Sunday.

Ceres High earned its first postseason berth since 2004, ending a 16-year drought. 

“We’re doing something that hasn’t been done at Ceres High in a lot of years,” Bulldogs’ junior quarterback Landyn Hudson said. “We’re happy about that. This is what we expected. Now, we got to prepare and go shock the world.”

“Credit to our kids and coaching staff,” Ceres High second-year leader Clinton Goblirsch stated.

“We’re excited to be going back,” added Brett Johnson, defensive coordinator for the Bulldogs’ 2021 and 2004 teams. “It means we’re moving in the right direction. That’s been our goal.”

Ceres High was awarded a playoff berth despite losing its final three league games.

The Bulldogs compiled a 5-5 overall record and placed fifth overall in the Western Athletic Conference standings (3-4).

“We didn’t finish the (regular) season the way we wanted to,” Hudson said. “We’re not happy. We’re not satisfied. We’re capable of playing better.”

Ceres High dropped its WAC finale, 33-24, to undefeated Grace Davis on Friday at Downey High School.

The Spartans improved to 10-0 and claimed the WAC championship with a 7-0 mark.

“We were more than capable of winning that game,” Hudson said. “It could have been different if we took care of the ball. We made a lot of mistakes.”

The Spartans scored 16 points off three Bulldog turnovers.

Ceres High trailed by just four points at intermission. The Spartans converted two Ceres High fumbles into nine points.

“We had more talent and were more physical than them,” Hudson said.  “We shot ourselves in the foot. We didn’t get the job done.”

Grace Davis outscored Ceres High 17-12 during the second half.

“Our defense kept us in the game,” Hudson said. “Our offense couldn’t get firing on all cylinders,” Hudson said. 

Hudson completed 10 of 25 passes for 140 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

He also had one rushing TD.

Kahmi Smith totaled 54 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries.

Tarrell Lee-Gill had 90 yards on 18 carries.

Ricky Stanley caught four passes for 64 yards and one TD.

Verlis Smith was limited to 4 yards on two receptions.

“There wasn’t a single one-on-one matchup with Verlis all night,” Hudson said. “He was double and triple teamed. We expected that.”

“You go in with a game plan and adjust,” Goblirsch said. “We were able to run the ball effectively. I’m happy with how the guys battled back and fought all the way until the end.”

Twelfth-seeded Ceres High will face fifth-seeded Ripon (6-4, 4-2) in the opening round of the Division-V playoffs this Friday on the road. Kickoff slated for 7 p.m. 

The Indians placed second in the Trans Valley League standings.

“We’re excited for the opportunity,” Hudson said. “Obviously, they’re good. They’re in the playoffs for a reason.”

“They’re consistent every year,” Johnson said. “They’re very well-coached.”

Landyn Hudson Eli Beltran
Landyn Hudson (left), Eli Beltran and Ceres High’s football team will face Ripon in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-V playoffs this Friday on the road. Kickoff slated for 7 p.m. - photo by Dale Butler