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CVs Gardner, Ceres Highs Bussard top list for players to watch in 2013
JaQuan, Brad will fill important roles
Junior Brad Bussard will be a major contributor on Ceres Highs varsity football team this season. Bussard passed for 1,398 yards and 15 touchdowns while starring at the JV level in 2012. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

1. Ja'Quan Gardner gained 3,457 yards and scored 40 touchdowns, both program records, while starring on Central Valley's varsity football team the past two seasons. The 5-foot-7, 170-pound senior will have an opportunity to become the Stanislaus District's all-time leader in rushing yards in 2013. He needs 1,594 yards to eclipse Central Catholic grad Louis Bland's Stanislaus District career mark (5,140) according to an article published in the Modesto Bee. Gardner was selected to the preseason All-Sac-Joaquin Section Second Team.

2. Brad Bussard will make his debut at quarterback this fall for Ceres High's varsity football team, which hasn't had a winning record or made the playoffs since 2004. The 6-foot-tall 160-pound junior passed for 1,398 yards and 15 touchdowns while leading the Bulldogs' junior-varsity squad to a 4-6 overall record last season. He scored four rushing TDs as well. Bussard will try to follow in former Bulldog star QB Derrick Goblirsch's footsteps. Goblirsch led Ceres High to back-to-back postseason appearances (2003, 2004).

3. Ben Anitelea will play a starring role on Central Valley's defense for a second year in a row. The 5-foot-10, 210-pound linebacker had a productive junior season with the Hawks. He was named to the Western Athletic Conference Second Team. Anitelea ranked second overall and first at his position in conference action with 75 tackles. Ben tallied five tackles behind the line of scrimmage, one sack, one fumble recovery, one interception and one pass deflection. He also returned a fumble 38 yards for a touchdown. Central Valley had the third-best defense in the WAC thanks in large part to Anitelea's smart and aggressive play.

4. Dylan Canatsy is Ceres High's top-returning receiver. The 6-foot-3 175-pound senior caught 37 passes for 399 yards and five touchdowns in 2012. Older brother Justin (class of 2010) played the same position with the Bulldogs for two seasons. He totaled 82 receptions, 1,143 yards and 11 touchdowns.

5. Central Valley's Angelo Bermudez spent a considerable amount of time training with Hawk star Ja'Quan Gardner during the summertime. Bermudez, a 5-foot7 150-pound junior, also attended the University of Oregon and Fresno State football camps. Angelo had 1,162 all-purpose yards and five touchdowns while logging playing time at running back, wide receiver, kickoff returner and punt returner at the varsity level as a sophomore. He registered 18 tackles, forced two fumbles and recovered one fumble at defensive back.

6. One of two sophomore players on Ceres High's roster, Tyree Williams will be counted upon heavily on both sides of the ball. The 6-foot-tall 170-pound running back/linebacker contributed at the JV level last season. He rushed for 640 yards and four touchdowns. Tyree tallied 62 tackles, two sacks and two fumble recoveries. Can Williams duplicate Brandon Crawford's success at the varsity level? A first-team all-league selection, Crawford rushed for 954 yards and a school-record 16 touchdowns as senior in 2003. The Bulldogs posted a 7-4 overall record, placed second in the Central California Conference standings and secured a Sac-Joaquin Section playoff berth for the first time in eight years.

7. Kendel Johnson, a transfer from Modesto's Beyer High School in 2012, replaces Central Valley four-year quarterback Abraham Navarro. The 6-foot-tall 180-pound senior opened eyes at the Oakland Nike Football SPARQ Combine in May at Laney College. About 1,000 athletes from 15 different states participated. Johnson posted the 25th-best overall score (91.23). He had a 34.4-inch vertical jump, 4.79 40-yard dash time, 4.33 20-yard shuttle and 38-foot power ball throw. Johnson completed 2 of 7 passes for 13 yards, rushed for 77 yards on 18 carries and caught two passes for 13 yards in four games for the Hawks last season. He had 17 tackles, two pass deflections, one fumble recovery and one forced fumble at defensive back. Older sister Jode was voted Ceres High Female Athlete of the Year a school-record three times. She earned 10 varsity letters, including four in basketball, and three in both softball and volleyball.

8. The quarterback position is dependent on other people. Ceres High's revamped offensive line features four new starters, excluding Pietro Puducay. Puducay, a 5-foot-6 senior veteran, will start at center. Puducay made 44 tackles and forced two fumbles at linebacker his junior year.