The 16th installment of the Ceres Classic, which pits Ceres High against Central Valley in football, will be held at Ceres Unified School District Stadium this Friday.
Barring cancellation due to poor air quality, the crosstown showdown game is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.
“This is a game everyone wants to see,” said Verlis Smith, a third-year receiver/defensive back with the Bulldogs. “There’s a lot more energy and excitement on campus all throughout the week. There’s a lot more pressure and intensity on the field. That’s what I love.”
“Everybody talks about it,” Hawks’ senior quarterback/defensive back Roberto Tiscareno said. “Seeing the whole town there, it’s a different feeling you don’t’ get from any other game. The intensity of the game is next level.”
Smith, Landyn Hudson (Jr., QB), Tarrell Lee-Gill (RB), Josh Prestridge (Jr., FB/LB), Eli Beltran (Sr., WR/DB), Mikey Rivera (Sr., OL/LB), Tavion Travis (Jr., DE/TE), Kahmi Smith (Jr., FB/LB) and Faiva Taukalau (Jr., DE/OL) will lead Ceres High (1-0).
Tiscareno, Alexis Becerra (Sr., FB/LB), Felix Arellano (Jr., RB/DB), Omar Mendoza (Sr., RB), Edgar Garcia (Sr., WR/K/DL), Darrius Jackson (So., WR/DB), Elijah Jackson (Jr., OL/DL), Adrian Perez (Sr., DL/TE) and Ruben Valenzuela (Sr., LB/DL/TE) will lead Central Valley (2-0).
The Bulldogs and Hawks are coached by the Goblirsch brothers: Clinton (Ceres High) and Derrick (Central Valley).
Clinton and Derrick graduated from Ceres High in 2002 and 2005, respectively.
Derrick earned eight varsity letters, including four in basketball, and two in both baseball and football.
Clinton earned six varsity letters, including two in basketball, baseball and football.
Clinton and Derrick played one season of basketball together.
Derrick (2004, 2005) and Clinton (2002) were both named Ceres High Male Athlete of the Year.
“We try to treat it like any other game,” Derrick Goblirsch said while talking about the Central Valley-Ceres High crosstown affair. “But the energy is definitely different. Every year, it’s fun. I know just as many people on their sidelines as ours. If you get caught up during the week, it takes away from your game prep.”
Added Clinton Goblirsch: “You want to win every time you’re on the field.”
Central Valley has an all-time record of 13-2 against Ceres High.
“To have that kind of success against them is kind of crazy,” Derrick Goblirsch said. “The last couple years the games have been more competitive. They’re doing things right over there. Their program is on the rise. They got some talent.”
The Hawks won the 2020 showdown, 36-14.
Perez set a program-record for sacks in a single game with five as Central Valley limited Ceres High to minus-2 yards rushing.
Tiscareno tallied one tackle, four pass deflections and one interception.
Hudson completed 9 of 24 passes for 230 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions versus the Hawks. He also had a 1-yard rushing TD.
Lee-Gill had an 85-yard touchdown reception.
Verlis Smith totaled 42 yards on four receptions.
Central Valley outscored Ceres High 16-6 in the opening half.
The Bulldogs had a chance to get within eight points late in the game but turned the ball over at the Hawks’ 10-yard line. Tiscareno intercepted Hudson’s pass with 3:15 to play.
The Hawks topped the Bulldogs for the sixth straight year.
“Obviously, it hurt seeing them celebrate,” Verlis Smith said. “It sticks with you until you play them again. It’s going to be a lot more competitive this year. I’m excited for it. I have a good feeling.”
“We want that trophy back at Ceres High,” he added. “We want those bragging rights. Whoever wants it more will end up winning. It’s all about having the right mindset and putting in all your effort every single play.”
Central Valley defeated Ceres High 35-0 in 2018, 35-33 in 2017, 52-10 in 2016 and 48-14 in 2015.
The Bulldogs won the inaugural showdown in 2006 (20-7) and eliminated the Hawks from playoff consideration in 2014 (24-7).
Central Valley and Ceres High both made program history last season.
The Hawks completed their first undefeated season and captured their second conference championship.
Central Valley finished 5-0 overall and placed first in the Western Athletic Conference South Division standings (4-0).
The Bulldogs compiled a non-losing record for the first time in 16 years. Ceres High won two of its four games and took fourth in WAC South play (1-2).
Will Ceres High end years of frustration this season by taking home the Ceres Classic perpetual trophy and earning bragging rights?
The Hawks will try to prevent that from happening as they look to extend their run of dominance versus the Bulldogs.
“I stood and watched them celebrate (last year),” Hudson said. “It hurt seeing them hold up the trophy. It motivated me. It made me work harder during the offseason. I can’t wait to play against them. That game’s circled on my calendar.”
“I don’t want to say too much,” said Becerra, who declined to make a prediction for the rivalry contest. “We’ll see what happens when we get out on the field.”