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JV Bulldogs upset rival Hawks
CHS rallies for 34-21 victory
Ceres Highs Johnni Smith-Willis fights for extra yardarge while being tackled by Central Valleys Adrian Badillo. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Central Valley High School's junior-varsity football team led 13-0 early in the second quarter against Ceres High.

The Hawks were on the verge on blowing the game open.

Defensive end Armani Rivera swayed the momentum in the Bulldogs' favor.

His fumble recovery and 39-yard return killed a potential scoring drive for Central Valley and help set up Ceres High's first TD. The Hawks turned the ball over inside the Bulldogs' 15-yard line.

"We knew we had a tough task ahead of us," said Ceres High head coach Scott Smith, whose team upset the Hawks 34-21 on Nov. 8 at Bulldog Stadium. "They had a winning record coming in."

Ceres High compiled a 2-8 overall record and had a 2-4 mark in WAC play this year.

Central Valley finished 5-5 and 2-4.

"I'm so proud of the kids," Smith said. "We've made big strides. We improved every single week."

Johnni Smith-Willis rushed for 58 yards and one touchdown on 11 carries, and returned a kickoff 82 yards for a score.

Chris Lubinsky completed 8 of 16 passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns.

Seth Gibson caught two passes for 67 yards and one TD.

Erik Collins totaled 24 yards and one score on two receptions.

Conner Johnson added 29 yards on four catches.

Nick Alcala had one rushing TD.

Aaron Black registered a team-high 16 tackles.

Alcala collected 10 tackles.

Collins had seven tackles.

"We stuck to our game plan," Smith said. "They keyed on him (Smith-Willis) and we were able to throw the ball. We spread them out. We executed."

Ceres High battled back from a 13-0 first-half deficit.

Central Valley's Noah Postley scored on a 1-yard run in the opening quarter.

Hawk teammate Jamarea Lumpkin raced 29 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter.

Ceres High tallied two TDs in a two-minute span late in the opening half.

Alcala had a 4-yard rushing touchdown. Adrian Garcia booted the point-after kick.

Smith-Willis scampered 20 yards for a TD at the 1:27 mark. Johnni found the end zone several plays after Garcia recovered an onside kick.

Smith-Willis returned the opening kickoff of the second half 82 yards for a TD. Garcia added the 2-point conversion on a run to increase the Bulldogs' lead to 21-13.

Reuben Rodriguez's 1-yard TD pass to Central Valley's Emani Anitelea and 2-point conversion run evened the score at 21-all at the 5:23 mark.

Gibson's 20-yard finger-tip TD grab in traffic put Ceres High ahead, 27-21, with 59 seconds to play in the third quarter.

Collins pulled in a 5-yard TD pass from Lubinsky while being draped by a defender in the right corner of the end zone with 3:52 left in regulation. Garcia added the PAT. Erik kept the drive alive with an 18-yard catch on fourth-and-6.

The core of Ceres High's team suited up for the Bulldogs' 0-10 frosh squad a year ago.

"We had a great week of practice," Smith said. "We improved every single week. I couldn't be more proud of the boys. This is big for our program."