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Dawgs drop opener
QB Nate Phillips leads Modesto High past Ceres High
Junior Johnni Smith-Willis made his debut with Ceres Highs varsity football program on Friday. Smith-Willis carried the ball 12 times for 58 yards. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Parking was sparse as members of the community flocked to Bulldog Stadium Friday night to watch Ceres High School's varsity football team make its 2014 season debut versus Modesto High.

Senior quarterback Brad Bussard and fellow Ceres High players raced through the program's brand-new inflatable Bulldog mascot prior kickoff.

"It looked good," Bussard said. "It pumped us up. Everyone was excited. The whole team wanted to win, bad."

Hurt by three turnovers and slowed by the Panthers' swarming defense, Ceres High suffered a deflating 40-13 loss.

The Bulldogs (0-1) amassed 256 yards of total offense, including 151 on the ground, against Modesto High.

Bussard completed just 10 of 20 passes for 105 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. He rushed for 36 yards on five carries.

Johnni Smith-Willis rushed for a team-high 58 yards on 12 carries.

Aaron Black gained 33 yards on eight carries.

Brent Bussard added 24 yards and one TD on four attempts.

Austin Stiles caught three passes for 42 yards and one touchdown.

Juan Anderson, Conner Johnson and Brent Bussard finished with 27, 22 and 14 yards receiving, respectively.

"We didn't execute, offensively," said Brad Bussard, who was sacked four times. "They have a fast defense. They swarm to the ball. Our defense played a pretty good game."

Black and Caleb McDade both made a team-high 10 tackles.
Ramon Coral collected eight tackles.

The Panthers (1-0) piled up 466 yards of total offense.

Nate Phillips completed 12 of 14 passes for 214 yards with two touchdowns and no picks. Phillips also rushed for 141 yards and one TD on 10 carries.

Antonio Perez carried the ball 13 times for 56 yards and two scores.

"They didn't do too much, offensively," Brad Bussard said. "They had two or three big plays."

Ceres High behind 40-0 before tallying two touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

Brad Bussard's first pass attempt was intercepted and returned 65 yards for a TD.

The ball deflected off Anderson's hands as he slipped. It was the first of Josh Brady's two interceptions.

"Just bad luck," Brad said.

Ceres High will play host to Gregori this Friday at 7:30 p.m.

Gregori lost 40-36 to Chavez last week.

"We're going to have to stop their run game," Bussard said. "That's what they do best. And we're going to have to cut back on our mistakes, offensively."