Ceres High’s football team found itself in an unfamiliar position several weeks ago.
The Bulldogs had a 5-2 overall record and appeared headed toward securing their first Sac-Joaquin Section playoff berth and winning season since 2004.
Ceres High was in a great position to contend for the Western Athletic Conference title as well. The Bulldogs won their last league title 17 years ago.
“Everybody was excited,” Ceres High senior receiver/cornerback Verlis Smith said.
That excitement turned to disappointment this past week as the Bulldogs suffered their second straight loss.
Host Mountain House edged Ceres High 21-20 in WAC play on Friday.
“Our goals were to win league and go to playoffs,” Smith said. “That’s not happening now. It hurts.”
The Bulldogs dropped to 5-4 overall and 3-3 in conference play.
The Mustangs improved to 4-5 and 4-2.
Ceres High junior running back Tarrell Lee-Gill rumbled for 154 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries.
Junior quarterback Landyn Hudson mustered just 53 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions while completing 7 of 16 passes.
Smith was limited to 48 yards on five receptions.
He ran for 18 yards on three carries.
Mikey Rivera registered 10 tackles and one fumble recovery.
Tavion Travis collected seven tackles and forced one fumble.
Kahmi Smith chipped in with six tackles, two pass deflections and one forced fumble.
Lebron Stallworth had six tackles.
Daniel Baker had five tackles and one sack.
Donivan Turley had four tackles.
Eli Beltran had three tackles, one interception and one pass deflection.
Austin Munguia had two tackles and three pass deflections.
Mountain House topped Ceres High by the slimmest of margins.
The Mustangs scored the game-tying touchdown and converted the go-ahead point-after kick in the fourth quarter.
“Our whole week of practice wasn’t good,” Verlis Smith said. “It carried over to the game. We didn’t have the right mindset. We were overconfident.”
Ceres High will try to hand first-place Grace Davis (9-0, 6-0) its first loss of the season this week. The game will be staged at Downey High School on Thursday. Kickoff slated for 7 p.m.
“We want to finish the season off strong,” Verlis Smith said. “Hopefully, we can get the upset. It’s going to take 100 percent effort every play. We need to step it up.”