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Crosstown-rivals CV, Ceres High will battle for more than pride this Friday
Moses Ghiorso and Central Valley will face Brad Bussard and Ceres High this Friday at Bulldog Stadium. The Western Athletic Conference finale will get underway at 7 p.m. The 5-4 Hawks will secure their second straight playoff berth with a win over the 2-7 Bulldogs. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Reduced to playing the role of spoiler in 2013, Ceres High's varsity football team failed in its bid to end crosstown-rival Central Valley's season.

The Hawks secured their first-ever playoff berth with a decisive 48-15 win over the Bulldogs in front of a standing-room-only crowd.

Ceres High, which has endured 10 straight losing seasons, will have a shot at redemption this Friday.

Central Valley finds itself in the same predicament, needing to beat Ceres High to advance to the postseason.

"It's big motivation," Bulldogs senior quarterback Brad Bussard said. "It would be nice to stop Central Valley from going to playoffs. It would mean everything to us."

"There's a lot of pressure on us," Hawks all-purpose standout Moses Ghiorso said. "I'm pretty sure Ceres High wants to win just as bad. We'll be ready."

Central Valley (5-4, 2-3) will look to continue its dominance versus Ceres High (2-7, 1-4).

The Bulldogs have dropped seven straight games to the Hawks since winning the inaugural Ceres Classic showdown 20-7 in 2006.

The Hawks hold a decisive 291-126 scoring advantage.

"Ceres High has talent," Ghiorso said. "It's not going to be an easy game. It's going to be very intense and physical. I'm pretty sure both teams are going to make plays."

Bussard completed 24 of 39 passes for 306 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions during Ceres High's lopsided loss to Central Valley last season.

Moses tallied seven tackles, forced one fumble and intercepted one pass.

Ghiorso's had a breakout junior campaign with Central Valley.

He leads the Hawks in both rushing and receiving.

Ghiorso gained 453 yards and scored 10 touchdowns through Central Valley's first eight games.

Hawk junior running back Jamarea Lumpkin has also been a major contributor on offense.

He's totaled 389 yards and four touchdowns on the ground.

Angelo Bermudez, who missed the first seven games of the 2014 season to focus on academics, carried the ball nine times for 158 yards and one touchdown versus the Bulldogs a year ago.

Central Valley linebacker Anthony Harrison has been a force on defense. He's tallied 59 tackles, registered two sacks and forced three fumbles.

"They have to worry about multiple players, including myself, Jamarea, Angelo, Jonathan (Barragan) and Alex (Centeno)," Ghiorso said. "We have a lot of speed and talent. Our offensive line is solid, too."

Bussard completed 99 of 206 passes for 1,323 yards with 10 TDs and 11 interceptions through the Bulldogs' first eight games.

Brad's tossed touchdown passes to six different players, including Marcellus Boykins (23 catches, 414 yards and 2 TDs), Austin Stiles (21-258-2), Juan Anderson (20-246-2), Brent Bussard (14-181-2), Conner Johnson (12-158-1) and Seth Gibson (3-18-1).

Johnni Smith-Willis has rushed for a team-leading 514 yards and five touchdowns on 83 carries.

Caleb McDade (DL), Ramon Coral (DL), Ricky Valenzuela (DB) and Brent Bussard (DB) have filled key roles on defense.
McDade's registered a team-leading 81 tackles.

Coral's collected 45 tackles and three sacks.

Valenzuela's tallied 43 tackles, one interception and four pass deflections.

Brent Bussard's chipped in with 37 tackles, 11/2 sacks and three pass deflections.

Central Valley accomplished two firsts in 2013 as it qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs and posted a winning record (6-5).

Central Valley will match last year's win total and earn its second-consecutive playoff berth with a victory over Ceres High Friday night.

The crosstown contest will be played at Bulldog Stadium.
Kickoff slated for 7 p.m.

The Ceres Classic perpetual trophy has been a fixture at Central Valley for the last seven years.

"I'm pretty sure they're going to go into the game with a lot of energy," Ghiorso said. "They want to knock us out of playoffs."

"It's time for the trophy to come back to Ceres High," Brad Bussard said. "It's time for the streak to end. I truly think it's going to happen this year. We have a lot of confidence going into this week. All of the pressure in the world is on them. If we're not going to make it, we don't want them to make it. We're not going to give it to them. If we minimize big plays, we'll come out on top."

He's caught 16 passes for 425 yards and five TDs.

He also ranks first on the team in several defensive categories, including interceptions (5) and passes defensed (3).

"It's not a one-person thing," Ghiorso said while talking about his individual success. "My offensive line has been a huge help. Everyone is executing."