The Ceres Seahawks junior-varsity youth football team faced a familiar opponent in the Central Valley Gridiron Youth Football League Super Bowl.
The Seahawks shut out the Turlock Hornets 28-0 during the regular season.
Top-seeded Ceres rallied for a 12-8 win over third-seeded Turlock in the CVGYFL championship game on Dec. 9 at Ceres High.
“We reached our goal,” coach Junior Schaefer said. “I told the kids to enjoy it because this might be the only Super Bowl they win in their lives. It doesn’t happen very often.”
The Seahawks posted an 11-1 record this year.
Ceres won all 10 of its CVGYFL games.
The Seahawks went 1-1 while finishing in second place at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Regional Tournament in Lincoln.
Turlock compiled a 9-4 record.
“We had a good group of kids,” Schaefer said. “They worked well together. Our mindset was to get better every game.”
The championship game was decided late in the fourth quarter.
Down 8-6, Mario Gonzalez scored on a 1-yard run on fourth down to give Ceres a 12-8 lead with 1:50 to play.
Gonzalez set up the TD with a 25-yard interception return.
"The kids didn’t quit. They kept on fighting. They didn’t want to lose.”Coach Junior Schaefer
“The thought of losing never crossed my mind,” Schaefer said. “I was just hoping we got the ball back one more time. The kids didn’t quit. They kept on fighting. They didn’t want to lose.”
Tristan Villicana accounted for the Seahawks’ first touchdown. He scored on a 30-yard run in the opening quarter.
“It was a great game,” Schaefer said. “Neither team could do much on offense. Both defenses were lights out. Turlock was more physical than the first time we played them.”
The Seahawks experienced a major turnaround this season.
Ceres’ roster featured players from the 2017 winless junior-varsity squad and 6-5 pee-wee team. “Eight of the kids played for last year’s JV team that went 0-10,” said Schaefer, who coached at the pee-wee level a season ago. “It just goes to show how much they wanted it (to win). They worked hard.”
No stranger to success, Schaefer’s teams have won three Super Bowls.
He led the Seahawks’ pee-wee team to the Cen-Cal crown in 2014. Schaefer was an assistant coach for the 2005 National Youth Football League champion Ceres Falcons’ JV team.
“Everyone is special because it doesn’t happen very often,” Schaefer said.