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Hudson, Bulldogs hold high expectations
•Third-year QB led CHS to first playoff berth since 2004 last season
Landyn Hudson earned
Landyn Hudson earned first-team all-Western Athletic Conference honors for his outstanding play at quarterback last fall. - photo by Dale Butler

Landyn Hudson will fill a major role on Ceres High School’s football team for the third year in a row.

The Bulldogs have improved each season with Hudson at quarterback.

“It’s crazy to think this is my last year,” said Hudson, who helped lead the Bulldogs to their first playoff berth since 2004 this past fall. “A lot of guys are hungry. We want to be better than last year. We’re turning the program around slowly. I’ve been thinking about getting a blue (Sac-Joaquin Section championship) banner for Ceres High School since I was in the eighth grade. That’s why I came here.”

A first-team, all-Western Athletic Conference quarterback as a junior, Hudson completed 77 of 158 passes for 1,389 yards with 18 touchdowns and seven touchdowns.

He totaled 860 yards, seven TDs and three picks while playing in three games during the Bulldogs’ 2020 COVID-shortened season.

“I talked with my receiving corps,” Hudson said. “We set a 3,000 mark we want to hit. That’s very possible. Our offensive line will be a lot improved from last year. We’re going to be physical up front. This year’s team can be a lot better than last year’s team.”

Hudson will target running back Tarrell Lee-Gill, receivers Ricky Stanley and Manny Mendoza, and tight end Lebron Stallworth this fall.

Verlis Smith, Ceres High’s top playmaker a season ago, will be missed.

He earned a football scholarship to Colorado State University Pueblo.

Hudson and Smith made up one of the top QB-WR duos in the Stanislaus District.

Smith snagged 36 passes for 775 yards and 14 touchdowns.

“We don’t have that deep threat in Verlis,” Hudson said. “We’re not going to dwell on it. There’s not going to be just one main target. I’m going to get the ball to everyone.”

Stallworth is Ceres High’s top returning pass catcher.

He totaled 187 yards and two touchdowns on 15 receptions as a junior.

Stanley grabbed eight passes for 106 yards and one TD as a junior.

Stanley set career-high marks for receptions (4), yards (64) and touchdowns (1) in a 33-24 loss to WAC-champion Grace Davis.

“We started connecting late last year,” Hudson said.

Lee-Gill caught 12 passes for 212 yards and one TD out of the backfield as a junior.

He gained 1,006 yards and scored 13 touchdowns on 130 carries.

Lee-Gill was selected to the WAC Second Team.

“I believe Tarrell is the best running back in our league,” Hudson said. “He runs hard. He’s fast. He can leave everyone behind him.”

Mendoza contributed at the JV level last year.

Hudson helped Ceres High end 16 years of frustration last fall.

The Bulldogs participated in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs for the first time since 2004.

Ceres High amassed a 5-6 overall record and placed fifth in the Western Athletic Conference standings (3-4).

The Bulldogs went 2-2 and finished fourth in the WAC South standings (1-2) during the 2020 COVID-shortened season.

Ceres High totaled just eight wins from 2016-19, finishing 0-10 in 2019 and 1-9 in 2018.

“We’ve been working every day as a team even outside of practice,” Hudson said. “Everyone has the same goal. We want to take our program to the next level and want Ceres High to be looked at as one of the better high schools in the area. We want to change the culture.”