Ceres High School’s sophomore-laden varsity football team took a major step in the right direction this season.
The Bulldogs notched their first non-losing record in 16 years.
Ceres High finished 2-2 overall and in fourth place in the Western Athletic Conference South Division standings (1-2).
“I’m proud of the way the guys battled,” Bulldogs’ first-year head coach Clinton Goblirsch said. “They worked hard and competed all year.”
“It’s special being a part of this program,” Ceres High junior all-purpose player Verlis Smith said. “We took a huge step forward. We can’t go back from this.”
“I knew what we were capable of coming into this season,” Bulldogs’ sophomore quarterback Landyn Hudson said. “I think we shocked some people this year. We hear a lot of (negative) things about Ceres High football. People say we can’t win. We’re trying to change the culture.”
Ceres High closed out the 2020-21 COVID-shortened season with a 31-24 loss at Los Banos on Friday.
The Tigers outscored the Bulldogs 10-0 during the fourth quarter.
Ceres High played shorthanded in the final period as Smith (knee) and sophomore running back Tarrell Lee-Gill (hamstring) were both sidelined with injuries.
“We had the lead going into the fourth quarter,” Goblirsch said. “We just didn’t finish it off. Credit to them. They made some adjustments, defensively, and were able to score some points to take the lead.”
“Unfortunately, we couldn’t pull it off,” stated Smith, who hyperextended his right knee late in the third quarter and did not return to the game.
“I expected it to be a defensive battle,” Hudson added. “It turned into a shootout. We played hard until the final whistle.”
Hudson completed 15 of 28 passes for 321 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions against third-place Los Banos (2-3, 2-2). He set a new career high for passing yards.
Smith completed 4 of 6 passes for 62 yards and one touchdown, caught five passes for 105 yards and one TD and rushed for 50 yards on five carries.
Samar Singh, a newcomer to football, grabbed six passes for 103 yards and one touchdown at tight end.
Amare Padilla had a 64-yard TD reception.
He also gained 23 yards and scored one touchdown on five attempts.
Eli Beltran’s lone reception resulted in a 35-yard gain.
“We built some chemistry this year,” said Hudson, one of 14 sophomores on the Bulldogs’ roster. “I promise you everyone on this team will get better. We have a lot of room to grow.”
“We’re going to have a number of guys coming back,” Goblirsch said. “Our goal is to continue to improve, compete and play the best we’re capable of each game. We’re looking forward to getting ready for next year. We’re opening the weight room this week.”
“I’m excited to see what we do,” Smith said.
High school football is normally played in the fall but was moved to the spring due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Schedules consisted of five games and no playoffs.
Ceres High played just four times this season as its home game against Pacheco was canceled due to COVID-19 testing issues.
“I wish we had a full season,” Smith said. “But it was a blessing to just be out there.”
“We’re thankful we got the opportunity to play,” Goblirsch added.