By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Courier recognizes athletes, coach, team
• Lee-Gill, Marquez named Courier’s Athletes of the Year for fall sports
Tarrell Lee-Gill
Bulldog running back Tarrell Lee-Gill has been named the Courier’s Male Athlete of the Year for the fall sports season. - photo by Dale Butler

The 2022 fall sports season concluded earlier this month. Now is the perfect time to recollect and celebrate individual and team accomplishments.

Athletes of the Year

Ceres High’s Tarrell Lee-Gill and Alysabeth Marquez have been named the Ceres Courier’s Male and Female Athletes of the Year.

Lee-Gill and repeat winner Marquez starred in football and girls golf, respectively.

Lee-Gill made program history by becoming just the second football player from Ceres High in the last 37 years to be voted league MVP. He also earned first-team all-Western Athletic Conference honors.

Former Bulldog quarterback/head coach Bret Durossette was voted Most Valuable Player of the Golden Valley League in 1985.

Lee-Gill, a dual-threat running back, was the top player in the WAC during his final season with Ceres High.

“It means a lot,” Lee-Gill said while talking about joining elite company among Bulldog football players. “I feel I deserved to get it (MVP). It’s really special. Not a lot of people from Ceres High School have been able to get the award.”

Lee-Gill rushed for 1,313 yards and 17 touchdowns and caught 18 passes for 305 yards and three TDs as the Bulldogs amassed an 8-3 overall record, finished in second place in the WAC standings (5-2) and qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III playoffs.

Lee-Gill carried the ball 347 times for 2,373 yards and 31 touchdowns and grabbed 33 passes for 625 yards and five TDs in 25 career games.

He helped lead the Bulldogs to their first winning record since 2004 and back-to-back playoff appearances.

“He was a game-changer,” Ceres High head coach Brett Johnson said.

Marquez also made program history this year by becoming the first girls golfer from Ceres High to receive conference MVP honors for the third time.

She won the 2022 WAC MVP award during her final season with the Bulldogs.

“It’s a really big honor,” Marquez said while talking about being a three-time MVP recipient. “I strived to be the best. I knew I had the potential to be. Getting there is surprising. I thank God gave me an amazing gift and ability to play, the drive to be better and want to win.”

Marquez enjoyed a success-filled career while filling the top spot in Ceres High’s lineup for three years.

She qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Tournament once and the Division-IV Tournament twice.

Marquez had a combined record of 29-5 during the WAC regular season.

She helped lead the Bulldogs to a share of the WAC South Division title (8-2) during the 2020 COVID-shortened season.

“I enjoyed every aspect of my high-school golf experience,” she said. “I definitely surprised myself. I feel like I improved a lot throughout the last four years.”

Newcomers of the Year

Ceres High’s Nicholas Vieyra and Central Valley’s Jayson Casias have been named the Courier’s co-Male Newcomer Athletes of the Year.

Bulldog Brianna Luna earned Female Athlete of the Year.

Vieyra and Casias had productive final seasons in football, while Luna enjoyed success during her first year of cross country.

Vieyra, a first-year kicker, was voted WAC co-Special Teams Player of the Year.

The senior finished second on the team in scoring with 50 points.

Vieyra made seven of nine field goals, converted 29 of 39 point-after kicks and totaled 17 touchbacks.

He booted two 45-yard field goals, one 44-yarder, two 35-yarders, one 30-yarder and one 23-yarder.

“It’s been a little bit of a surprise,” Vieyra said while talking about his overnight success on the gridiron. “But I know my talent. I have a lot of confidence in myself. My coaches and teammates believe in me.”

Unable to play for the Hawks during his junior year because of the CIF transfer rule, Casias starred at receiver this fall.

“Teams knew what we were going to do and they still couldn’t stop him,” Central Valley head coach Derrick Goblirsch said. “That’s the mark of a great offensive player.”

Casias, who spent parts of his sophomore year at Central Catholic and Ceres High, caught 40 passes for 773 yards and five touchdowns.

He was an honorable-mention Central California Conference selection.

“I had a great season,” Casias said. “That’s what I wanted to do because I wasn’t able to play last year.”

Luna, a first-year runner, brought home a medal from the Western Athletic Conference Championships.

She placed eighth overall with a time of 22 minutes, 25 seconds on the 3.1-mile course at Ceres River Bluff Regional Park on Oct. 27.

“She’s the only freshmen to place in the top eight,” Bulldogs’ head coach Owen Brown said. “She’s been steadily improving. It’s been exciting to see.”

Luna earned first-team, all-WAC honors.

She took fifth (23:59) while leading the Bulldogs to a surprising first-place finish at the WAC’s third cluster meet on Oct. 12 at O’Neill Forebay.

“She’s not peaking yet,” Brown stated. “She has room to get faster. She will.”

Coach of the Year

Interim head coach Brett Johnson led Ceres High’s football team to an 8-3 overall record, a runner-up finish in the Western Athletic Conference (5-2) and an appearance in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III playoffs.

“When I came to Ceres in 1991, I got my first chance to coach under Butch Mendonca,” he said. “The kids are what keep me coming back. I love watching them grow and helping them develop into better young men.”

“He means a lot to the program,” senior running back Tarrell Lee-Gill said.  

Johnson, who’s coached the Bulldogs for the past 31 years, replaced Clinton Goblirsch just nine days before the start of the 2022 season. 

An assistant for 25 years, Johnson previously filled Ceres High’s head-coach position from 2006-10. The Bulldogs amassed a 7-43 record during his first five years at the helm.

“He (coach Johnson) uplifted us and made us want to do better,” Lee-Gill said.

Team of the Year

Ceres High’s football program has been named the Courier’s Team of the Year for the second year in a row.

The Bulldogs amassed an 8-3 overall record, finished second in the Western Athletic Conference standings (5-2) and qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III playoffs.

“We were able to accomplish a lot our last two years because we had the right mindset,” Ceres High first-team all-WAC linebacker Kahmi Smith said. “We competed at practice. We trusted each other. I never doubted my team and coaches. I knew we’d get the job done.”

Ceres High annexed its first winning record since 2003.

The Bulldogs secured their second consecutive playoff berth. Ceres High ended 16 years of postseason futility in 2021.

Just three teams from Ceres High have won eight or more games in the past 37 years.

The Bulldogs went 9-4 and 8-4 in 1985 and 1988, respectively.

Ceres High snapped a seven-year losing streak versus the crosstown-rival Central Valley. The Bulldogs claimed the Ceres Classic perpetual trophy with a thrilling 21-20 win over the Hawks.

Ceres High had 10 players earn all-WAC accolades, including Lee-Gill (Most Valuable Player), Faiva Tuakalau (Defensive Player of the Year), Jeremiah Diaz (co-Defensive Lineman of the Year) and Nicholas Vieyra (co-Special Teams Player of the Year).

“I wish we were still playing,” Lee-Gill said. 

Alysabeth Marquez
Alysabeth Marquez had a success-filled four-year golf career at Ceres High School. She was named league MVP the past three seasons. - photo by DALE BUTLER/ Courier file photo