Winless a year ago, Ceres High School’s football team opened the 2020-21 campaign with a thrilling 34-32 victory over visiting Grace Davis in Western Athletic Conference play on Friday at CUSD Stadium.
The Bulldogs snapped a 15-game losing streak dating back to the 2018-19 season.
“I’m proud of our guys,” Ceres High new head coach Clinton Goblirsch said. “They showed a lot of heart.”
Bulldog sophomore quarterback Landyn Hudson and 6-foot-2 senior tight end Samar Singh combined for the winning touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Hudson tossed a 6-yard TD pass to a wide-open Singh with 8 seconds to play.
A newcomer to football, Singh earned second-team all-league honors while starring in basketball during his junior year.
“He was my first option,” Hudson said. “He stepped up big time.”
Hudson completed 17 of 25 passes for 309 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions during his varsity debut with the Bulldogs.
“He made some great decisions and throws,” Goblirsch said.
“That kid is a stud,” Ceres High junior receiver Verlis Smith added. “He came in. No hesitation. He made big plays for us. He fought like a champion. That’s the mindset we need as a team.”
“I trusted my teammates and coach Goblirsch with his play calling,” Hudson said. “Everything fell into place.”
Smith caught seven passes for a career-high 207 yards and two touchdowns.
“He (Hudson) put the ball right where I wanted it,” Smith said.
Singh totaled 43 yards and one TD on three receptions.
Junior Eli Beltran hauled in two passes for 38 yards and one touchdown.
Sophomore Tarrell Lee-Gill rushed for a team-high 30 yards and one TD on eight carries.
Ryan Beffa and sophomore Tavion Travis led the Bulldogs’ defense with six tackles apiece.
Sophomore Faiva Taukalau registered five tackles and forced one fumble.
Junior Miguel Rivera collected one tackle and recovered one fumble.
Hudson and Smith filled key roles in helping Goblirsch earn his first career victory as Ceres High’s new head coach.
“To see the big smile on his face (after the game) felt good,” Hudson said. “He’s been working very hard since he became head coach. He’s helped me improve different parts of my game.”
“I’m glad we got the win for him,” Smith stated. “He’s a real leader. He’s going to let you know when you do something wrong or right. He’s straight up. I like that in a coach.”
“It’s special,” Goblirsch added. “Credit to the players and coaching staff.”
The Bulldogs overcame 18-point deficits in the second and third quarters.
The Spartans returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown.
Ceres High’s game-winning drive covered 95 yards.
“It (losing) wasn’t even a thought,” Goblirsch said. “We knew we just had to execute. It was a total team effort.”
“Nobody except people on this team expected us to win. We used that as fuel. We proved a lot of people wrong.”Quarterback Landyn Hudson
“Nobody except people on this team expected us to win,” Hudson said. “We used that as fuel. We proved a lot of people wrong.”
“It’s a big win for us,” Smith said. “That’s what we needed to get our confidence up after going 0-10 last year. I’m proud of my boys. We didn’t give up.”
Ceres High (1-0) will travel to Modesto this Friday to face Johansen (0-1) at 7 p.m.
Johansen lost 42-6 to Central Valley on March 19. The Vikings scored a meaningless touchdown in the fourth quarter.
“Our expectation is to play the best that we can every week,” Goblirsch said. “We’ll put in the work to continue to improve.”
“We’ll be 100 percent focused,” Hudson said.