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Prep football season here
Brad Bussard (2), Ramon Coral and Ceres High Schools varsity football team will open the 2014 season against visiting Modesto High this Friday at 7:30 p.m. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Ceres High's and Modesto High's varsity football teams combined for 115 points, 1,185 yards and 17 touchdowns during their 2013 season opener.

The host Panthers won the non-conference game, 74-41, at Downey's Chuck Hughes Stadium.

Ceres High and Modesto High will open the 2014 campaign at Bulldog Stadium this Friday.

"No one expects us to beat Modesto High," Ceres High senior quarterback Brad Bussard said. "If we do it, it's going to raise our confidence. I hope they overlook us."

Bussard threw for 437 yards and six touchdowns, both program records, while making his varsity debut versus the Panthers last season. He completed 27 of 44 pass attempts. Brad also had three interceptions.

The Panthers totaled 11 touchdowns and 691 yards of offense.

Tiki Tonga, a 2014 Modesto High grad, threw for 212 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for 102 yards and one score.

Antonio Perez, a junior last season, rumbled for 225 yards and four TDs on 13 carries.

The Bulldogs fell behind 47-20 in the opening half.

Ceres High committed four turnovers during the game.

"I'm expecting it to be another offensive shootout," Brad Bussard said. "They have a good offense. We have a good offense. The only difference is we have experience and a better defense this year."

Brad Bussard (QB/DB), Ramon Coral (OL/DL), Adrian Torres (OL/LB), Caleb McDade (OL/DL), Brent Bussard (RB/DB) and Izaiah Hernandez (RB/DB) will lead the way this year.

Newcomers expected to contribute include Ryan Wolf (OL/DL), Johnni Smith-Willis (RB/LB), Austin Stiles (WR/DB), Marcellus Boykins (WR/DB), Seth Gibson (WR/LB), Aaron Black (RB/LB) and Erik Collins (WR/DB).

Brad and Caleb both earned second-team, all-conference honors.

Bussard passed for 2,853 yards and 25 touchdowns with 16 interceptions in 10 games.

Perez, Modesto High's top returner, totaled 1,132 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground last season.

"It's a great feeling to have that leadership role on the team," Brad Bussard said. "Everybody is going to look up to me to make plays. I try to ignore all the talk. All that matters is the win-loss column. I'm willing to play defense if the coaches let me. I'll do whatever I can to help my team."

Ceres High hasn't compiled a winning record or qualified for the playoffs since 2004.

The Bulldogs went 2-8 overall and finished in sixth place in the Western Athletic Conference standings (1-5) last season.

The Panthers went 7-4, placed first in the Modesto Metro Conference (5-1) and advanced to the postseason in 2013.

"I have a good feeling our defense is going to surprise some teams," Brad Bussard said. "They communicate. They swarm to the ball. Coach Brett Johnson is doing a great job."

The Ceres High-Modesto High contest will get underway at 7:30 p.m.

"I have confidence we'll do good," Coral said. "We have a lot of veteran leadership on the team. There's a lot more intensity in the group. There's more competition. We're trying to change the culture of Ceres High football."

"We can't wait to get out there," Brad Bussard said. "Everybody is pumped up and excited. We've put in a lot of hard work. We definitely have the capability of being a playoff team. We're going to be the class to change everything around."