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Seahawks finish fourth at Nationals
Ceres varsity team competes in Ohio
Julian Lopez helped lead the Ceres Seahawks to a fourth-place finish at the Pro Football Hall of Fame National Youth Football Championship this past month in Ohio. The Seahawks competed in the 14-and-under Gold Bracket. - photo by Photo courtesy of Willie Solorio

The Ceres Seahawks varsity youth football team finished in fourth place at the Pro Football Hall of Fame National Youth Football Championship.

The event was staged, Dec. 13-17, in Canton, Ohio.

"We did great," head coach Anthony Lopez said. "We were one game away from the championship. We lost in double overtime in the semifinals. We reaffirmed we belonged there. We can compete with anybody they put in front of us."

The Seahawks posted an 0-2 record in the 14-and-under Gold Bracket.

"We were playing in 12-to-14-degree weather," Lopez said. "It was cold. It was snowing. The boys couldn't feel their hands and feet. The elements hindered us big time."

The Mayslanding Lakers of New Jersey edged the Seahawks 21-20 for the consolation championship on Dec. 16 at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Sports Complex.

The Lakers scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 45-yard pass play with 20 seconds left in regulation.

"We had the lead and they beat us in the end," Lopez said. "The boys were tired from playing two hours earlier."

Ceres quarterback Julian Lopez tossed a 55-yard touchdown pass to Eli Beltran and scored on a 40-yard run.

Anthony Izaiah Lopez had a 15-yard rushing TD.

Ceres lost 13-6 in double overtime to second-seeded Mexico Gold during their semifinal matchup on Dec. 16.

The two teams battled to a 6-6 tie in regulation.

Julian Lopez raced 65 yards for a score in the first quarter.

Ceres players and coaches toured the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton.

They drove through six different states while traveling from California to Ohio.

"It was a great experience," coach Lopez said. "It took us 50 hours to drive up there in two vans. The kids got to bond."

The Seahawks collected 16 victories and three losses this season.

"We're two extra points away from going 18-1 on the year," coach Lopez said. "All three games were winnable. We made some mistakes and the other teams capitalized."

The core of this year's team went 54-4 in their last 58 games at the varsity, junior varsity and pee wee levels.

Ceres won Cen-Cal Super Bowl titles in 2016 (junior varsity) and 2014 (pee wee).

"I've been with some of these kids for six years," coach Lopez said. "I watched them grow and get better."