Ceres High’s football program is enjoying one of its best seasons to date.
No longer doormats, the Bulldogs improved to 5-2 overall and 3-1 in the Western Athletic Conference with a 26-3 pounding of host Pacheco on Friday in Los Banos.
Ceres High remained in the hunt for a Sac-Joaquin Section playoff berth and league title.
The Bulldogs’ last winning season came in 2004 when they compiled a 6-5 overall record, won a share of the Modesto Metro Conference championship (4-1) and qualified for the Division-I playoffs.
“We haven’t done this well for a while,” Ceres High senior all-purpose standout Verlis Smith said. “We’re not the worst team in league now. Everyone is excited. Our hard work is paying off. I’m proud of my boys.”
The second-place Bulldogs improved to 5-2 overall and 3-1 in the WAC standings.
The fifth-place Panthers dropped to 2-5 and 1-3.
“It’s exciting to be a part of this team,” Smith said. “It’s a blessing to be in this position. We know how great we can be and our goals are achievable. It doesn’t matter who we play. We just got to stay focused and humble. We can’t get comfortable.”
Smith showed off his versatility by starring on both sides of the ball.
He had 180 yards and two touchdowns on offense.
Smith caught two passes for 92 yards and one TD.
He ran for 88 yards and one score on eight carries.
Smith intercepted three passes on defense, returning one 100 yards for a touchdown, and tallied three pass deflections.
“I like to play offense more,” he said. “I like scoring touchdowns. Defense is pretty cool, too.”
Bulldog junior quarterback Landyn Hudson totaled 140 yards and one touchdown while completing 8 of 14 pass attempts.
Junior Tarrell Lee-Gill gained 20 yards and scored one TD on eight carries.
He grabbed two passes for 22 yards.
Josh Prestridge had 19 rushing yards on four carries.
Eli Beltran snagged one pass for 12 yards.
Ricky Stanley added 11 yards on two catches.
Kahmi Smith collected 13 tackles and forced one fumble.
Mikey Rivera had eight tackles.
Tavion Travis had six tackles and one sack.
Donivan Turley had five tackles, one forced fumble and one pass deflection.
Prestridge had five tackles.
Thomas Lopez had one tackle and one sack.
The Bulldogs won their third straight game.
“It was a good week for us,” Smith said. “The intensity at practice was higher. We kept the streak going. Overall, it wasn’t our best game. We made a lot of mistakes. We could have done better. But we still won.”
Ceres High has outscored its opponents, 237-76, this fall.
The Bulldogs are allowing just 10.9 points per game.
“Our defense is strong,” said Smith. “That’s one of the reasons we’re winning games. We play aggressive and disciplined.”
Ceres High will play host to Los Banos (2-4, 2-1) this Friday.
Kickoff slated for 7 p.m.
“We want to win the rest of our games,” said Smith. “That’s what we’re aiming for. We want to make playoffs. We want to win league. We got to play 100 percent no matter who we play. We have to execute. We got a lot of work to do to get to the point where we’re great.”