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CHS snaps seven-year losing streak versus CV in football with 21-20 win
Kahmi Smith celebrates with Ceres High School teammates Landyn Hudson and Manuel Mendoza following Friday’s 21-20 win over Central Valley during the 17th installment of the Ceres Classic football game. - photo by Photo courtesy of Anthony Gerads

Ceres High School’s football program ended years of disappointment versus crosstown-rival Central Valley this past week.

The Bulldogs claimed the Ceres Classic perpetual trophy with a 21-20 win over the Hawks Friday night in front of a sold-out crowd at CUSD Stadium.

Ceres High snapped a seven-year losing streak against Central Valley, which won 14 of the first 16 meetings between the two teams.

“Back-to-back years, I watched them celebrate,” said Landyn Hudson, third-year quarterback for the Bulldogs. “That does something to you. When you get one more opportunity, you got to make it count. Just a great team win.”

“It was an entertaining, action-packed game,” Ceres High interim head coach Brett Johnson said.

Hudson planted a Bulldog flag at midfield during the postgame celebration.

Tarrell Lee-Gill passed out custom-made shirts commemorating Ceres High’s much sought-after victory.

Mike Welsh, a retiring Ceres School Board member and 1969 Ceres High grad, presented the highly-coveted Ceres Classic trophy to the Bulldogs.

“Obviously, we would have liked to have made more of a statement,” Lee-Gill said. “I’m just happy we won. We’ve wanted it for so long. Coach (Brett) Johnson deserves it. He’s been a part of the rivalry since the beginning. He’s seen the ups and downs.”

“I’m excited for the kids, other coaches and student body to have that experience,” Johnson stated. “It (the trophy) will probably be displayed in my classroom for a little bit or at the front office or Dawg House. It will definitely be in a place where people can see it.”

“It’s amazing to finally get over the hump,” Hudson added.

Reis Smith helped the Bulldogs secure the victory. The sophomore cornerback deflected Hawk emergency quarterback Elijah “Booty” Jackson’s potential go-ahead 2-point conversion pass to Central Valley backup tight end Juan Alonzo in the end zone late in the fourth quarter.

The Hawks opted to go for the win in regulation instead of attempting a game-tying point-after kick after Jackson cut the deficit to 21-20 with an 18-yard touchdown run with 1:33 to play.

Elijah Jackson, Central Valley’s 260-pound tight end, finished the game at QB after Hawk backup/younger brother Darrius Jackson exited the contest with a leg cramp.

Mario Gonzalez, Central Valley’s starting quarterback, suffered a fractured left collarbone early in the third quarter.

“It means a lot,” Smith said while talking about his timely pass breakup. “It’s the biggest play I’ve made at varsity through our first three games. I’m a little piece that contributed. All the seniors have been working for four years trying to get the W (against Central Valley).”

“I knew if they scored, they’d go for 2 points,” Johnson added. “I would have taken a chance just like he (Hawks’ head coach/former Bulldogs’ quarterback Derrick Goblirsch) did. Reis did a good job of sneaking over there and tipping the ball away. It was way too close for comfort.”

Hudson took a knee to end the game. His 6-yard QB keeper on second-5 allowed the Bulldogs to run the final one-plus minute off the clock. 

“I’m super happy it’s over,” Johnson said. “We don’t have to think about the crosstown showdown and everything that comes along with it for another year.”

The Bulldogs managed to beat the Hawks despite being limited to just 198 yards of total offense.

Ceres High averaged 385.5 yards and 45.0 points through its first two games.

The Bulldogs shuffled their offensive line for Friday’s contest due to injuries.

Jordan Hogancamp started at center in place of Thomas Lopez (elbow).

Slowed by an ankle injury sustained during Week 1, left guard Jaylin Jackson played sparingly against the Hawks. He was replaced by Angel Garcia in the first quarter.

Daniel Baker, Elias Carrera and Faiva Taukalau started at right guard, right tackle and left tackle, respectively.

“They were tough, defensively,” Ceres High co-offensive coordinator Brandon Moring said. “They were flying around. Their team pursuit was amazing. They’re extremely, well-coached. But at the same time, we weren’t 100 percent. Not having him (Lopez) and moving a tackle to center in combination with Tarrell being hurt impacted what we were doing, offensively. I’m still proud of our guys for battling.”

Slowed by a hamstring injury, Lee-Gill was limited to 49 yards on 16 carries. He averaged 3.1 yards per carry. Lee-Gill rushed for 205 yards and five TDs and caught four passes for 98 yards and two scores during the Bulldogs’ first two contests.

Hudson totaled 130 yards and three touchdowns while completing just 10 of his 22 pass attempts versus Central Valley.

Ricky Stanley hauled in five passes for 77 yards and one TD.

Manuel Mendoza’s lone reception resulted in an 18-yard touchdown.

Lebron Stallworth caught two passes for 6 yards and one score.

“Offensively, we couldn’t get in a groove,” Hudson said.

“They know who our playmakers are,” Lee-Gill added.

Ceres High tight end Lebron Stallworth had a 5-yard touchdown catch against Central Valley. - photo by Photo courtesy of Anthony Gerads
Ceres High’s defense had three takeaways.

Baker tallied one interception, one pass deflection and three tackles.

Taukalau forced one fumble and registered five tackles.

Izaiah Hernandez recovered one fumble and collected three tackles.

Brayden Clark chipped in with one fumble recovery.

Stanley had one forced fumble and one tackle.

Stallworth had three tackles, one forced fumble and one pass deflection.

Josh Prestridge had 12 tackles.

Kahmi Smith had seven tackles and one pass deflection.

Jeremy Diaz had seven tackles.

Donovan Osuna had three tackles and one pass deflection.

Zion Rochell had three tackles.

Reis Smith had two tackles and one pass deflection.

“Defensively, we made big plays when we needed to,” Johnson said.

“Our defense bailed us out tonight, Hudson added.

Ceres High improved to 3-0 on the season.

Central Valley dropped to 1-2 overall.

The Bulldogs have a bye week before opening Western Athletic Conference play at home on Sept. 16. Ceres High will face the Lathrop Spartans (1-2) at 7 p.m.