Central Valley’s and Ceres High’s football teams battled in front of a sold-out crowd for the second year in a row earlier this month.
Hawk and Bulldog players enjoyed competing in front of more than 3,000 fans.
Central Valley pulled away for a 34-8 win over Ceres High during the 18th Annual Ceres Classic Crosstown Showdown game on Sept. 1 at CUSD Stadium.
“One football game means so much to so many people,” Bulldogs’ senior receiver Manny Mendoza said.
“All eyes were on us,” said Hawks’ senior quarterback/defensive back Mario Gonzalez . “It felt great. The support is always there. It brings everybody together.”
“Even though we didn’t win, it was really cool to see all the people that came to watch us play,” Bulldogs’ senior QB/DB Donovan Osuna said. “It means a lot to us. We love the support.”
Five extra sets of bleachers were brought in to increase the stadium’s capacity.
Fans were also allowed to watch the game from additional standing-room-only approved areas.
“Pulling up in the bus and seeing how many fans were there was unreal,” Gonzalez said. “I never expected that would happen. It added more hype to the game. It felt like a college game.”
“It was special walking into the stadium and seeing all of those people,” Osuna said. “I was like, ‘Wow.’ Warming up before the game, we were nervous and excited. The atmosphere was different. There was a lot more people.”
“There’s always big pressure when there’s a big game like that,” Mendoza said. “You have to really stay focused every single play. The loudness is crazy. You hear both sides cheering. Seeing no empty spots in the stadium was really cool. It feels great to have all the support. For me, what makes it enjoyable is playing football with the guys on both teams.”
A record 3,500-plus fans attended the 17th installment of the Ceres High-Central Valley football game this past fall.
CUSD Stadium reached its capacity during the second quarter of the varsity game last year.
Fans began lining up outside during the junior-varsity game.
The line stretched all the way to the Bulldogs’ tennis-court facility.
Purchasing tickets at the CUSD Stadium gate wasn’t an option this season due to last year’s unprecedented experience.
Online tickets were sold out at GoFan leading up to the 2023 crosstown contest.
A combined 700 paper tickets were purchased from Ceres High’s Dog House and Central Valley’s Hawks Nest.
“I feel it’s going to be crowded and sold out every year (in the future),” Mendoza said.
To generate additional interest for the 2023 Ceres Classic, the city of Ceres and Ceres Unified School District held a Crosstown Showdown Parade for the second year in a row.
This year’s event started at 11 a.m. and ended at 1 p.m. at Whitmore Park on Aug. 26 in downtown Ceres. Parts of Magnolia, Lawrence, Third and Fourth streets were closed to traffic from 10 a.m. to noon. Football players, cheerleaders, dance teams and student bands from both high schools participated.
“It feels great having the city come together to support both sides,” Mendoza said. “The feeling is unexplainable.”
“The support is amazing,” Osuna added.