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Standout athletes honored
Verlis Smith starred
Verlis Smith starred on both offense and defense during his final season with Ceres High’s football team. - photo by Dale Butler

Ceres High’s Verlis Smith and Alysabeth Marquez have been named the Ceres Courier’s Male and Female Athletes of the Year for the fall sports season.

Smith and Marquez were standouts in football and girls golf, respectively.

“It was a blessing to be a part of this team,” said Smith, a senior receiver/cornerback. “I’m glad I could help the program take the next step. I always gave 100 effort every play.”

“I’m very blessed to be where I’m at,” said Marquez, a junior. “Leaving my mark is something that’s really cool. But it’s not my top priority. My top priority is my relationship with God. He’s the most important aspect of my life.”

Marquez joined rare company during her junior year by becoming just the second girls golfer from Ceres High School to earn league Most Valuable Player honors for the second time.

She followed in the footsteps of 2015 CHS grad Caitlin Pfaff, who was named Western Athletic Conference MVP her junior and sophomore years.

Marquez claimed the 2021 WAC MVP award.

She was the top player in the WAC South Division as a sophomore.

“I’m really grateful,” Marquez said. “My family is very proud of me. In my mind, it’s not that big of a deal.”

“I expect a lot out of her,” Bulldogs’ head coach Ron Edwards said. “I know she can be better than she is now. I think she can go and play at a four-year college.”

Marquez compiled a 13-1 record versus WAC cluster competition this season.

She shot a 27-over-par 98 while finishing third overall at the conference tournament on Oct. 19 at Manteca Park.

Marquez earned her first-ever berth to the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Tournament.

She carded a 26-over-par 98 at the Reserve at Spanos Park on Nov. 1 in Stockton.

Marquez qualified for Masters after posting the fifth-best individual score at the Division-IV Championships on Oct. 25 at Stockton’s Swenson Park Golf Course. She fired a 28-over-par 100.

“I’m really happy with how the season turned out,” Marquez said. “I have a lot of room for growth. Everything needs work. There’s no end for getting better. I’m hoping over this offseason I can shoot into the low-80s and get looked at by some colleges.”

Marquez has established herself as one of Ceres High’s greatest female golfers.

She was named co-MVP of the WAC South Division during the 2020 COVID-shortened season. She compiled a 5-1 record as the Bulldogs tied for first place in the conference standings with Pacheco. The CIF Sac-Joaquin Section canceled playoffs due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Marquez wanted to play girls golf for the Bulldogs her freshman year. But Ceres High didn’t field a team due to a late coaching departure and a lack of interest. She ended up playing in several matches for the boys team before the season was cut short because of COVID-19.

“Her strengths are her putting and short game,” Edwards said. “She drives the ball very well. If she puts the work in, she can knock off at least 15 strokes off her scores on the regular par-72 courses. She can do better.”

Smith did a little bit of everything during his third and final season with Ceres High’s football program.

He earned first-team, all-WAC accolades.

“Verlis was a leader,” head coach Clinton Goblirsch said. “He was productive. He was very coachable. He did everything we asked of him.”

Smith accounted for 21 touchdowns.

He caught 36 passes for 775 yards and 14 touchdowns.

He rushed for 277 yards and four TDs on 35 carries.

He completed 5 of 13 passes for 117 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.

Smith totaled 19 tackles, three interceptions and three pass deflections on defense. All three of his picks and pass deflections came in a 26-3 win against Pacheco. He also returned an interception 100 yards for a score.

Smith and junior Landyn Hudson combined to make up one of the top offensive tandems in the Stanislaus District.

“They had a lot of success together,” Goblirsch said. “They had a good connection. That developed over the course of the last two years.”

“I’m not trying to sound cocky but we were the best quarterback-wide receiver duo in our league,” Hudson said. “Our chemistry was off the charts. We worked out so much together during COVID. That was a big key to our success. We made each other better. Our whole team is going to miss him next year.”

In 23 career games, Smith racked up 2,130 all-purpose yards.

He hauled in 83 passes for 1,505 yards and 19 touchdowns. He averaged 18.1 yards per reception.

He rushed for 475 yards and six touchdowns on 55 carries. He averaged 8.6 yards per carry.

He completed 15 of 30 passes for 277 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.

He had 28 tackles, four interceptions, four pass deflections and one forced fumble.

Smith was selected to the WAC South Division First Team as a junior.

He was a WAC honorable-mention pick sophomore year.

“One thing that makes me stand out is I’m a workaholic,” Smith said. “I hate when people make me look bad. I may not be the best, but I’m going to outwork everyone me.”

Alysabeth Marquez
Ceres High girls golf standout Alysabeth Marquez earned conferene Most Valuable Player honors for the second straight season. - photo by DALE BUTLER/ Courier file photo