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Coach Flanagan returns after year long break
Randy Flanagan had no choice but to take a year-long break from coaching football at Central Valley High School in 2008 because of health problems.

Diagnosed with life-threatening congestive heart failure, the 51-year-old Cerean longed to return to the sidelines.

"I was hurting there for a while," he said. "I spent seven days in the hospital. I cried like a little baby when they told me I couldn't coach. It was devastating."

Flanagan, a 1977 Ceres High graduate, jumped at the opportunity to become head coach of the Ceres Seahawks youth football organization's junior-varsity squad this year. He enters the season 40 pounds lighter.

"I love football," a rejuvenated Flanagan said. "Coaching is the closest I can get to playing."

The Seahawks' varsity, junior-varsity, pee-wee and rookie teams started practicing for the 2009 campaign four weeks ago.

Flanagan had his players stretch and run before participating in tackling drills on Friday, Aug. 7 at Blaker-Kinser Jr. High. Randy liked what he saw.

"We'll be competitive," he said.

The Seahawks organization attracted a combined 197 players and cheerleaders for the 2009 season. Members range in age from 5 to 14. They practice Monday through Friday, from 6-8 p.m.

"It's the most kids we have ever had," President Javier Fregoso said. "It's because of the product we put forward. We also have a lot of support behind us."

Joe Borba will coach the varsity team for the third straight season.

The Seahawks have won one league title, participated in the playoffs twice and posted a record of 15-12 under his guidance. Ceres fell one victory shy of a Super Bowl berth in 2007.

Sonny Ogden and Randy Scacutto will direct the pee-wee (9-10) and rookie (7-8) squads, respectively.

The pee-wee team posted an 8-3 overall record, finished in second place in league (6-1) and received a first-round playoff bye in 2008.

The JV squad will look to rebound from a 3-7 campaign.

"I think we're going to do really well at all levels," Fregoso said. "We have a lot of talent."

Ceres opens its Cen-Cal Jr. Football League season against the Hilmar Packers on Sept. 5 at Central Valley High School. The Seahawks will also compete against the Merced Bears (9/5), Turlock Vikings (9/12), Buhach Thunder (9/19), Oakdale Stampede (9/26), Manteca Jaguars (10/3), Livingston Wolves (10/10), Waterford Sabercats (10/17), Merced Cougars (10/24) and Modesto Broncos (10/31) this year.

"The energy has been positive at practice," Fregoso said. "The kids and coaches are excited."