Ceres High’s football team came agonizingly close to ending years of frustration against Central Valley.
The Bulldogs suffered a 20-18 loss while battling the Hawks on Friday night at CUSD Stadium.
Ceres High lost to Central Valley for the seventh consecutive season.
The Bulldogs have a 2-14 all-time record versus the Hawks.
“Losing like that hurts more than a blowout,” Bulldogs’ receiver/defensive back Verlis Smith said. “We knew how close we were to winning the game.”
Ceres High dropped to 1-1 overall.
Central Valley improved to 3-0 on the season.
The Bulldogs will look to bounce back this week on the road.
“We got eight more games left,” Smith said. “Our team is strong enough to respond the right way.”
Ceres High mustered just 218 yards of total offense in defeat.
Junior quarterback Landyn Hudson completed 8 of 16 passes for 154 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Smith caught five passes for 121 yards and one TD.
Junior Tarrell Lee-Gill ran for 46 yards and one TD on five attempts.
Junior Josh Prestridge gained 37 yards and scored one TD on three carries.
“Their defense isn’t a joke,” Smith said. “They don’t have the best athletes. But they do everything right.”
Verlis Smith collected eight tackles on defense.
Junior Kahmi Smith registered eight tackles and forced one fumble.
Junior Lebron Stallworth had six tackles and one sack.
Diomar Delgadillo had four tackles and one sack.
Mikey Rivera and junior Tavion Travis both had nine tackles.
Eli Beltan and Austin Munguia chipped in with six tackles apiece.
The 16th edition of the Ceres Classic was close from beginning to end.
Ceres High led 12-7 at halftime.
Lee-Gill scored on a 5-yard run in the first quarter and Smith hauled in a 77-yard TD pass in the second quarter.
The Bulldogs were outscored 13-6 in the final period.
Prestridge’s 34-yard TD run cut the deficit to 20-18 with 4:35 to play.
“If we would have had another shot (on offense), I think we would have won the game,” Verlis Smith said.
Ceres High won the inaugural crosstown showdown in 2006 (20-7) and eliminated Central Valley from playoff consideration in 2014 (24-7).
The Hawks defeated the Bulldogs 36-14 in 2020, 55-13 in 2019, 35-0 in 2018, 35-33 in 2017, 52-10 in 2016 and 48-14 in 2015.
“My expectation was us taking back the trophy,” Verlis Smith said. “It didn’t happen. We really need to stop this streak. I have faith in my guys. Next year is going to be different.”
Central Valley will play at Johansen this Friday.
The game will get underway at 7 p.m.
“This game is very important,” Verlis Smith said. “Winning would give us a lot of momentum going into league.”