Brad Bussard shared a hug with father/assistant coach John Bussard following the Ceres High School varsity football team's 24-7 upset of crosstown-rival Central Valley at Bulldog Stadium on Nov. 7.
The senior quarterback concluded his prep career in memorable fashion as the Bulldogs ended a seven-year losing streak versus the crosstown Hawks.
Ceres High also eliminated Central Valley from playoff consideration on the final day of the season.
"It's a game we'll be talking about for the rest of our lives," said Brad, who threw for 186 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. "I love playing quarterback. I love the leadership role. Everyone doubts me because I'm a coach's son. I think I've proven myself in this last game."
"For him to end the year like that is fantastic," Bulldogs head coach Bret Durossette said. "That's pretty darn impressive."
Brad passed for 4,394 yards and 37 touchdowns with 27 interceptions during his two-year stint as varsity quarterback. The Bulldogs posted a combined record of 5-15 with Bussard under center.
"No one is perfect," he said. "I could have had better numbers. I wish I could have some throws back. I led by example very well. I pushed a lot of our younger athletes. I wish I could have turned the program around."
"Brad did everything I thought he could do," Durossette said. "He's a great kid with great character. He had a great career."
Brad envisioned starring at a different position with the Bulldogs after graduating from Mae Hensley Jr. High in 2011.
"I wanted to be a star wide receiver," Bussard said.
"He played quarterback because he was the best guy for the position," Durossette said.
"I changed drastically," Brad added. "My freshman year, I wasn't very good. By my senior year, I could place the ball where I wanted it. I deserved the spot where I was at. It was a great opportunity."
Bussard played quarterback for four years at Ceres High, including one season at both the junior-varsity and freshman levels.
Converted from receiver to quarterback, Bussard directed the Bulldogs' frosh squad to a 3-5-1 mark (2-2-1 WAC).
Brad passed for 1,398 yards and 15 touchdowns with 10 interceptions while leading Ceres High's JV team to a 4-6 overall record in 2012.
John was Brad's head coach/offensive coordinator during his sophomore year.
John was a varsity assistant coach the past two seasons.
"There's added pressure," Brad said. "As the years went on, I blocked it out. I didn't let it phase me. My dad gave me every opportunity he could to make me better by sending me to camps. I wouldn't be the same player without him. He pushes me to the limit."
Bussard totaled 2,853 yards, 25 touchdowns and 16 interceptions his junior year. He had three 400-yard passing games. Brad tallied a program-record 437 yards and six TDs in his debut against Modesto High.
Brad lost his top two receivers to graduation heading into the 2014 campaign. He mustered 1,541 yards with 12 TDs and 11 picks in 10 games.
Bussard earned honorable-mention accolades.
"My numbers were down," Bussard said. "We had a young team."
"It's not his fault we were 3-7," Durossette said.
A standout pitcher, hitter and middle infielder in baseball, Bussard will be counted upon heavily as the Bulldogs vie for their second consecutive WAC crown and fifth straight Sac-Joaquin Section playoff berth this spring. He's currently a member of Ceres High's varsity boys basketball squad.
"My hat goes off the Brad," Durossette said. "He's a competitor. He had a lot of individual success even though we didn't have a lot of success as a team. It was a pleasure coaching him. He's going to go down as one of the program's best quarterbacks."
"I'm weighing my options," Bussard said while talking about his college plans. "Right now, I'm leaning towards trying to play baseball."