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Varsity Bulldogs have new quarterback
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Ross Tate has been waiting for this moment ever since he entered high school. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound junior will start at quarterback for the Ceres High football team in the season-opener against Manteca this Friday.

"I'm excited," Tate said. "I finally get to play varsity."

Tate has some big shoes to fill. Two-year starter Derrick Goblirsch passed for 3,732 yards and 33 touchdowns en route to leading the Bulldogs to a share of the Modesto Metro Conference championship and back-to-back playoff berths.

"I feel a little bit of pressure," Tate said.

Tate took the majority of snaps during Bulldogs' passing league season this summer. He also worked out at the Athletic and Industrial Rehabilitation center in Modesto. Tate combined weight lifting with speed and exercise drills during the two-week session.

"He was committed," said Ceres coach Bret Durossette.

Tate has battled injuries the past two years. He broke his collarbone while playing for the Ceres High freshman football squad in 2003. Tate injured a knee and suffered a concussion at the JV level last season.

"This year, I'm going to play smarter," he said.

Tate must also improve his accuracy. He'll throw to an inexperienced corps of receivers, including Armando Valencia, Roland Salazar, Jake Keidel, Ray Sewell and Jake Loveland. Tailback Dingko Luangchai will also be a target.

"I want to complete 60 percent of my passes," Tate said. "That's one of my big goals. That's what it's going to take to compete."

The Bulldogs play host to the Buffaloes at 7:30 p.m.

Ceres High returns just four starters from last year's team, including Adam Kent, Lonny Gerhardt, Luis Malagon and Daniel Munoz. Malagon and Kent earned all-league honors. Munoz won't play against Manteca. He suffered a concussion at a scrimmage on Friday in Escalon.

Manteca has eight returnees, including Alex Pahl, Daniel Johnson, Nick Trout, Michael Turner, Vincent Bordi, Seth Davis, Tomas Verdusco and James Para. They helped lead the Buffaloes to a 9-3 record and a spot in the second round of the playoffs in 2004.

Ceres will try to make history against Manteca. The Buffaloes have won 13 of the last 14 meetings, including 11 in a row, since 1989. The Bulldogs blew a 14-point, halftime lead during last season's loss. - By DALE BUTLER / Staff reporter of the Ceres (Calif.) Courier