Ceres High's and Central Valley's varsity football teams have reached the halfway point of the 2017 season.
The Bulldogs and Hawks compiled identical 3-2 records in non-conference play.
"Our team is definitely still hungry," Ceres High senior running back Andrew Gibson said. "We want to get as many wins as we can. The people that doubt us, that's motivation."
"There's a lot of room to improve," Central Valley senior running back/safety Estevan Barragan said.
The Hawks beat West of Tracy (31-14), Grace Davis (35-28) and Atwater (12-9).
Central Valley lost to Enochs (14-6) and Sierra (20-14) by a combined 14 points.
"We're where we should be," Hawks' head coach Scott Edwards said. "We could be 5-0. We could easily be 1-4. We've had a lot of tight, dramatic games."
Ceres High beat Johansen (41-13), Hughson (34-33) and Weston Ranch (48-42).
The Bulldogs lost to Atwater (38-20) and East Union (47-14).
Ceres High won four of 10 games last fall.
"The biggest difference this year is we play really well together," Gibson said. "We've known each other for a long time. Everybody is friends on the team."
Central Valley allowed just 17.0 points per game on defense during the preseason.
The Hawks registered 13 sacks, to go along with six interceptions.
Barragan collected 50 tackles, one interception, two pass deflections and one forced fumble at safety.
Linebacker Nasson Sanchez tallied 40 tackles, one forced fumble, one interception and two pass deflections.
Defensive lineman David Serrano totaled 30 tackles and five sacks.
Linebacker Ryan Palecek, and defensive backs Derek Bolivar, Mark Ramirez and Kyle Hendrix all chipped in with one interception apiece.
"Our defense is really good," Barragan said. "We can stop anybody we go against if we stop making mistakes."
Central Valley averaged 19.6 points and 302 yards per game on offense.
The Hawks totaled 13 touchdowns.
"We know we're a different team from last year," Estevan said. "We don't run the ball 90 percent of the time. We can be better if we fix our mental mistakes. We just need to execute and play as a team."
Barragan rushed for 561 yards and six touchdowns on 99 carries and hauled in 17 passes for 265 yards and one TD through Central Valley's first five games.
Senior quarterback Miguel Jimenez passed for 559 yards with five touchdowns and seven interceptions.
"Miguel's a great leader," Barragan said. "Everybody trusts him. That's something you have to have to have a good offense."
Ceres High averaged 31.4 points and 384 yards on offense through its first five games.
Gibson totaled 521 yards and seven touchdowns on 66 carries.
He hauled in 12 passes for 244 yards and four TDS.
"We've changed our offense because of him (Andrew)," Bulldogs' head coach Bret Durossette said. "He's one of the toughest players I've coached. His ability to make plays is awesome. When you get him in open space, he'll make people miss. He can also run you over. I have a lot of confidence in him."
Ceres High sophomore quarterback Dalton Durossette has thrown for 866 yards with eight touchdowns and four interceptions.
He's also rushed for 272 yards and two TDs on 39 carries.
"I'm very impressed with what Dalton's done so far," Bulldogs' offensive coordinator Brandon Moring said. "He's a big part of what we do offensively. His football IQ is up there with some of the best quarterbacks I've coached. There's a reason why. He's been around football his entire life."
Added Gibson: "The only thing that has surprised me about Dalton is his running ability. He's pretty fast."
Ceres High fullback Felipe Martinez gained 219 yards and scored three touchdowns on 55 carries.
He grabbed 11 passes for 106 yards.
The Bulldogs' defense allowed 34.6 points per game during the preseason.
Defensive end Andrew Alcala tallied 43 tackles, one sack and one pass deflection.
Martinez collected 41 tackles, one sack, one interception and one pass deflection at linebacker.
Isaac Santana finished with 17 tackles, one interception, two pass deflections and one forced fumble at defensive back.
Defensive back Brock DeWitt had nine tackles and five pass deflections.
The Bulldogs and Hawks will begin the Western Athletic Conference portion of their schedules this Friday.
Ceres High will play host to Los Banos (5-0), while Central Valley will compete at Livingston (2-3).
Both games will get underway at 7 p.m.
The Hawks posted a perfect 5-0 record en route to a first-place finish in the 2016 WAC standings.
"League is pretty wide open this season," Barragan said. "Every team is going to give us their best shot because we're the (reigning) WAC champs. We hold the title. We went undefeated last year."
"We want to be 1-0 this week," Edwards said. "We got our work cut out for us. When you watch Livingston on film, they're a dangerous team. They're much-improved. It's going to be a tough matchup for us."
Ceres High and Central Valley will be awarded postseason berths if they win three of their five conference games.
The Hawks are vying for their third consecutive playoff appearance.
The Bulldogs last participated in the playoffs in 2004.
"We're not worried about playoffs," coach Durossette said. "The most important thing is the game against Los Banos. Last year, our junior-varsity team beat them. We'll have a good game plan."
"Every team wants to make it to playoffs," Edwards said. "It's a sign of a successful season. We know to be a playoff team, we have to be better."