The members of Ceres High’s football team received disheartening news prior to last week’s scheduled game.
The third-place Bulldogs were supposed to play host to the first-place Pacheco Panthers on April 9. But the Western Athletic Conference South Division contest was canceled earlier in the day due to coronavirus-testing issues.
“We didn’t get our results back in time,” Ceres High Athletic Director John Bussard said.
“I was making my pre-game lunch when I got the call,” Bulldogs’ junior receiver Verlis Smith said. “I feel bad for the seniors. It was going to be their last time playing on our home field.”
Ceres High has nine senior players on its roster.
Upperclassmen Padilla, Ryan Beffa, Josh Adams, Nic Angulo, Ryan Ashby, Heriberto Castillo, Felipe Galindo, Izriel Ramirez and Samar Singh missed out on being recognized in front of family and friends.
“My initial reaction was shock,” said Padilla, a standout all-purpose player. “I couldn’t believe it. I had a numb feeling at first. It’s just another thing to add to the list that’s been out of the ordinary. It’s been a year full of disappointment.”
The high-school football season was moved from fall to spring because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Each team was scheduled to have five games instead of 10.
Ceres High (2-1, 1-1) and Pacheco (2-1, 2-0) will both play just four times this year due to last week’s COVID-testing delay.
“It sucks because we’re having a short season as it is,” Smith said. “I’m really bummed out.”
Ceres High will close out the 2020-21 campaign at Los Banos this Friday.
The Bulldogs are striving to post their first winning record since 2004.
Ceres High finished 0-10 and lost all seven of its conference games a year ago.
“It’s going to be a tough matchup for us,” Smith said. “Their players are big. I have faith in my guys. It would be really special to finish 3-1. That would be a huge leap from last season.”
“I’m excited,” Padilla added. “It would be a big deal to finish the year off with a winning record. We’re trying to change the culture. I think Ceres High’s best years are in the future.”