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Ceres Saints look to rebound in 2010
Robert Castillo enjoys coaching.

The former Army drill instructor has worked with hundreds of players of all ages over the years.

This season, Castillo will serve as head coach of the Ceres Saints varsity youth football team. He was an assistant during the organization's first year of existence in 2007.

"I do what I can to help the community," Robert said, "This helps the kids going in the right direction. There's discipline, camaraderie and team work. It's a lot of fun."

Castillo helped coach the Ceres Seahawks varsity youth program in 2008.

He's also spent time with two semi-pro teams, including the Modesto Raiders (2000-04) and Manteca Thundercats (2004-07).

The Saints will compete with a 17-player roster.

Ceres lacks experience.

"We got a lot of kids who have never played," Castillo said. "It's not a negative. They're willing to listen and learn."

Tianna Contreras, the lone girl on this year's team, will contribute at multiple positions.

She'll log playing time at offensive tackle, tight end and defensive end.

Tianna was a member of the Ceres Falcons for two seasons (2005, 2006).

"The biggest thing is she's a quick learner," Castillo said. "Once she gets over that first game, she'll be fine. I think she'll hold her own."

Contreras doesn't receive any special treatment because of her gender.

"She's just another player on the team," Castillo said.

Ceres' Delta Youth Sports Association schedule features games against the Delta Valley Wolfpack, Pittsburg Pirates, Delta Rebels North, Tokay Jr. Tigers, Galt Jr. Warriors, Weston Ranch Ravens, Liberty Ranch Jr. Hawks, Tracy Buccaneers and Delta Patriots East.

Hurt by a lack of numbers, the Saints struggled to a winless record (0-9) in 2009.

Ceres compiled a 5-5 record in 2007. Castillo was the offensive coordinator.

"We definitely have our goals," he said. "They're not big but they're positive. One win this year is a big step. We'll be competitive. The first game will tell us a lot about everybody."