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Spartans edge Dawgs
Ceres High's varsity football team lost by an average of 25.3 points on its way to compiling an 0-10 record last year.

The 2008 Bulldogs appear headed in the right direction.

Friday's 14-7 season-opening, non-league loss to reigning Modesto Metro Conference co-champion and visiting Grace Davis is definitive evidence. The Spartans hammered the Bulldogs 33-0 in 2007.

"Everybody thought we were going to roll over tonight," junior quarterback Josh Edwards said. "We made it interesting. We should have won."

Edwards passed for 137 yards and one touchdown.

"I thought he did really well for his first start," Ceres High head coach Brett Johnson said.

Devaun McGregor also made his debut with the Bulldogs. The 6-foot-3 senior receiver grabbed two passes for 68 yards and one touchdown. He also finished with five tackles and one interception on defense.

"For his (Devaun's) first football game, I don't think I could have asked for anything more," Johnson said. "He's still learning the position. That's what's amazing."

Junior receiver Justin Canatsy added three receptions for 41 yards.

The Bulldogs finished with minus-32 yards rushing on 20 carries.

"We played a good game on defense," sophomore middle linebacker/fullback Hadon Lopez said. "There's a lot of flaws in our offense that we can fix."

Lopez led Ceres High's defense with 16 tackles and one sack. He also returned a punt 65 yards and caught one pass for 12 yards.

Johnny Clark and Brandon Jolley both tallied seven tackles.

Martino Bertolotti and Richard Gudino had six tackles apiece.

Ceres High mustered just one touchdown off four Grace Davis turnovers in the opening 24 minutes.

"We had our chances in the first half," Johnson said. "We just got to get our offense rolling. We'll get better."

Edwards' 26-yard touchdown pass to McGregor in the right corner of the end zone on a go route broke a scoreless tie 20 seconds into the second quarter.

"We saw the mismatch and made that play up on the spot," Josh said.

Devaun thwarted a Grace Davis drive when he made a diving interception at the Ceres High 39-yard line with 4:18 to play in the first half. Three plays earlier, Lopez sacked Spartan quarterback Jason Nesbitt for a seven-yard loss.

Grace Davis won the battle of field position in the second half.

Both of the Spartans' TD drives started inside Ceres High's 35-yard line following punts, one of which was blocked.

Xevion Vega's 5-yard run and Weston Toste's extra point evened the score at 7-7 with 1:36 remaining in the third quarter.

Nesbitt scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 10-yard sweep early in the fourth quarter.

Ceres High drove 71 yards to Grace Davis' 16 on its subsequent possession. Edwards connected with Canatsy (27 yards) and McGregor (41 yards). Josh's fourth-down pass attempt to Devaun was broken up in the end zone by defensive back Toste at the 7:44 mark.

With less than two minutes to play, the Bulldogs' defense forced a punt. Starting at its own 2-yard line, Ceres High's last-gasp possession ended with a turnover on downs. After completing a 14-yard pass to Brandon Jolley for a first down, Edwards got sacked and misfired on his final three attempts.

Grace Davis' Nesbitt took a knee with 34 seconds left to secure the victory.

"All this game is going to do is make us work harder," Lopez said.

Prior to kickoff, Ceres High alumni marched around the track as part of the school's 100th-year anniversary. A capacity crowd attended the game.

Ceres will play against Downey High School at Chuck Hughes Stadium on Friday at 7:15 p.m. The Knights posted a 40-32 victory against Golden Valley last Saturday.