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Ceres Seahawks rebuild
The Ceres Seahawks had a forgettable end to the 2009 Cen-Cal Jr. Football League varsity season.

Ceres appeared headed toward an easy victory against Merced before suffering a stunning collapse. The loss eliminated the Seahawks from playoff contention.

"We're looking to erase what happened last year," said Joe Borba, fourth-year head coach of the Seahawks. "It was a heartbreaking loss. We got a little overconfident in the second half. The kids that came back are better, stronger and have a lot more hunger."

Ceres failed to make the playoffs for the first time during its three-year history.

The Seahawks compiled a 4-5 record.

Ceres finished 6-4 in 2008 and 10-4 in 2007.

"We had a good team," Borba said. "We had some breakdowns that cost us some games. It just wasn't our year."

The Seahawks will seek redemption with a revamped roster.

Ja'Quan Gardner (RB/DB), Coty Harris (RB/LB), Marcus Clark (WR/DB), Anthony Aviles (WR/DB), Gabriel Solis (QB/DL), Milton Uti (LB/QB) and Edward Nunez (LB/OL) are no longer on the team.

Gardner gained 1,341 yards and scored 20 touchdowns last year. He also returned two kickoffs for scores and tossed a pair of TD passes.

"You can't replace a kid like that," Borba said. "He was like Vince Lopez."

Pedro Arreola (RB/LB), Adrian Knittel (OL/DL) and Jorge Carreno (OL/DL) are Ceres' most experienced players. They contributed last year.

The Seahawks' top newcomers are Zachary Magana (QB/DB), German Mendoza (OL/DL), Gurpal Samra (OL/DL), Miguel Hernandez (RB/LB), Robert Gipson (TE/LB) and Joseph Montalvo (LB/RB).

Hernandez used to play for Modesto 49ers.

"We have a solid group of kids," Borba said. "I think we'll be just as competitive. Our line is bigger and better. We're not as fast but we have kids who can play defense. If we keep improving, there's no reason come November, we're still playing football."

Ceres must finish in the top eight in the Cen-Cal standings to reach its goal.

The Seahawks have games against the Los Banos Wildcats, Waterford Sabercats, Merced Cougars, Turlock 49ers, Manteca Jaguars, Oakdale Stampede, Buhach Colony Thunder, Turlock Vikings, Livingston Wolves and Modesto Broncos.

"Success is getting to the playoffs and advancing," Borba said. "Anything short of that is a disappointing season."