Ceres High’s football team had to compete with a revamped lineup this past week against Johansen at Dan Gonsalves Stadium.
The Bulldogs still managed to win the Western Athletic Conference contest, 12-0, even though six key players were ruled inactive for the game due to COVID-19-related issues.
Three other players were benched during the first half for missing practice.
“To be put in the position we were in, we did great,” Ceres High junior standout Verlis Smith said. “We found out the day before the game. Losing that much power on the offensive side was tough to take in. We still came out and made a statement. It’s a huge win for our program.”
“It was an inspirational performance"Brett Johnson
“It was an inspirational performance,” Bulldogs’ defensive coordinator Brett Johnson said.
The Bulldogs improved to 2-0 in the WAC standings.
The Vikings dropped to 0-2.
Ceres High surpassed its win total for the past two seasons.
The Bulldogs had a combined record of 1-19 from 2018-19.
“The cool thing with this group of kids is they never get rattled,” Johnson said. “They want to play football. They take it serious. They have high expectations. It doesn’t matter what happened in the past.”
Shorthanded Ceres High showed resiliency for the second straight week.
The Bulldogs erased an 18-point deficit en route to posting a 34-32 win over the Grace Davis Spartans on March 19.
“We gave 100 percent every play,” Smith said. “We didn’t give up.”
A star receiver, Smith contributed at quarterback against Johansen.
“There was a lot of pressure,” he said. “You got to know what everyone is doing at all times. I give myself a B-minus. There are things I could have done better.
Smith rushed for a career-high 142 yards and two touchdowns.
He completed 6 of 11 passes for 98 yards with no TDs and one interception.
Smith had four tackles, one interception and one pass deflection at cornerback.
“I couldn’t have done that without my line (Jaylin Jackson, Kahmi Smith, Thomas Lopez, Faiva Taukalau and Nic Angulo),” Verlis Smith said while talking about his performance at QB. “Those boys stepped up.”
Josh Prestridge and Ryan Beffa contributed at running back.
Prestridge ran for a career-high 40 yards on 16 carries.
He collected four tackles on defense.
Beffa caught two passes for 12 yards.
He had four tackles, one fumble recovery and one pass deflection.
Samar Singh totaled 50 yards on three receptions.
Ryan Ashby had a 36-yard reception while making his first start at receiver.
He had two tackles and one pass deflection.
Josh Adams and Nic Angulo chipped in with a team-high six tackles apiece.
Tavion Travis collected three tackles.
The Bulldogs limited the Vikings to just 63 yards of total offense.
“It’s our best defensive effort in years,” Johnson said.
Ceres High will play host to crosstown-rival Central Valley this Friday at 7 p.m.
The Hawks (2-0) edged the Los Banos Tigers (0-2) 13-12 last week.
Central Valley opened the season with a 42-6 victory over Johansen on March 19.
The Bulldogs have an all-time record of 2-12 versus the Hawks.
Central Valley prevailed, 55-13, last season.
“I’m excited,” Verlis Smith said. “We just got to stay focused and do our job. We can’t take any plays off against this team.”