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Recollections of the past
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Ceres High's varsity football program struggled to a 2-8 record in 2005.

The Bulldogs' preseason schedule included games against some of the top teams in the Sac-Joaquin Section, including Turlock's Pitman High School.

Ceres High faced the daunting task of trying to slow down the Pride's potent offense attack, which was led by the senior duo of Anthony Harding (running back) and Colin Kaepernick (quarterback).

"Our game plan was to stop the run and make him (Kaepernick) pass," said Ross Tate, who was Ceres High's quarterback at the time.

Kaepernick completed 8 of 12 passes for 140 yards with four touchdowns as Pitman pulled away for a 56-20 non-conference victory over host Ceres High.

In April, Colin was selected 36th overall in the National Football League Draft by the San Francisco 49ers.

"It's pretty cool to see a guy you competed against in high school going to the NFL," Tate said. "It just doesn't happen overnight. He wasn't highly recruited. He worked his way up to being one of the best college quarterbacks in the nation."

"I'm happy for him," said Brent Avila, who chased Kaepernick around the field while playing linebacker for the Bulldogs in 2005. "The thing that made him successful is he did what his coaches asked of him. He worked hard at every level."

Tate, Avila and Ceres High challenged heavily-favored Pitman for a quarter.

Down 14-6, the Bulldogs surrendered 28 unanswered points in the second period. The Pride racked up 390 yards of offense in the opening 24 minutes, including 269 rushing and 121 passing.

"He (Colin) put a move on me in the open field going into half," said Avila, who totaled 13 tackles against Pitman. "He made me miss. I don't admit that a whole lot."

"He had total command of the game," said Tate, who completed 6 of 12 passes for 65 yards and a touchdown and scored on a 45-yard scamper while directing Ceres High's offense.

Kaepernick threw for 1,954 yards and 25 touchdowns his senior year for Pitman, which posted an 8-3 overall record, finished 4-1 in the Central California Conference and advanced to the second round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-I playoffs.

"He pretty much did what he wanted to do," Ceres High football head coach Bret Durossette said. "It was a tough matchup."

Colin had a record-breaking career at the University of Nevada. He became the first quarterback to pass for 10,000 yards and rush for more than 4,000 yards in Division-I history.

Avila watched Kaepernick play five times, including once in person.

"I got to see him live this year," said Brent, who attends Fresno State. "He got better. His breakaway speed really impressed me."

Colin totaled 324 yards and two touchdowns in the Wolf Pack's 35-34 win over Fresno State. He passed for 171 yards and ran for 153 yards and two scores. More importantly, Kaepernick engineered a seven-play, 44-yard game-winning drive in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter. He completed two third-down passes.

Nevada finished the 2010 season with a school-record 13 wins. The Wolf Pack won a share of the Western Athletic Conference title and defeated Boston College 20-13 in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. Kaepernick was named co-Offensive Player of the Year for the WAC.

San Francisco traded its 45th, 108th and 141st picks to the Denver Broncos for the rights to draft Kaepernick.

Hopefully, Colin can bring respectability back to a franchise with a storied history. The 49ers, winners of five Super Bowls, haven't had a winning season or participated in the playoffs since 2002.

"I think it's a gamble but the thing is he is a winner," Durossette said. "Obviously, the Niners saw something. They're in need of a quarterback. He's a great athlete. I don't have a favorite team. I'd be interested in watching him."

Added Avila: "I played against this guy. That's a cool thing to say."