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Ceres High football players start practicing
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The sun shined. Sweat poured. And clouds of smoke from a nearby house fire sailed overhead.

That was the scene on the fourth day of football practice at Ceres High School.

About 90 players--58 varsity and 32 JV--put on pads for the first time on Thursday. They warmed up and split into groups with their position coaches. Players also participated in 7-on-7 drills.

"For the first week, it went smooth," said Ceres defensive coordinator Brett Johnson.

The first three days of practice were conducted without any football equipment, including helmets and pads. Players worked on conditioning at seven different stations and participated in offense-defense drills.

"We had different agility and strength stations set up," Johnson said.

The freshman team will start practicing in pads this week.

"We had to do a last minute order on the equipment," Johnson said. "Usually we have between 105-110 kids in our program. We have almost 160 kids this year.

"That was a pleasant surprise."

Ceres High will be competing in a new conference this season.

Ceres and the five Modesto high schools (Beyer, Davis, Downey, Johansen and Modesto) formed the Modesto Metro League.

"Our league is going to be really tight," Johnson said. "I don't foresee one team being heads and shoulders over one team."

Ceres' 10-week schedule, includes five preseason games.

The Bulldogs play their first league game at home against Modesto High on Oct. 15. - By DALE BUTLER / Staff Reporter of The Ceres (Calif.) Courier