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Coaches prepare CHS players
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The process started in May. Ceres High football coach Bret Durossette passed around a sign-up sheet to generate interest in his program. Approximately 60 players vowed to dedicate part of their summer to the Bulldogs' 7-on-7 passing league team.

"We've been averaging about 13 to 15 kids each Tuesday night," said Brett Johnson, Ceres High defensive coordinator. "It's not always the same group."

Added Durossette: "You'd think there'd be more excitement. We won the Modesto Metro Conference title last year."

Luis Malagon, Daniel Munoz, Dingko Luangchai, Andy Perez, Ross Tate, Jake Loveland, Jake Keidel, Brent Avila, Ray Green, Roland Salazar, Armando Valencia, Zack Atchison and Aaron Salazar have all made at least one appearance in passing-league play.

Malagon, Luangchai, Munoz and Perez played varsity in 2004-05. Malagon earned first-team, all-league honors on defense. The linebacker had 119 tackles, three sacks, one interception and a fumble recovery.

"We only return 15 kids from last year's team," Johnson said. "There's a lot of work to be done all the way around."

Tate and Green will vie for the starting quarterback position. Tate played quarterback at the JV level last year. He also logged time at defensive back, receiver, kicker and punter.

"Ross has the potential to be really good," Durossette said. "He has to get the experience."

Valencia will be one of Ceres' main threats on offense.

Ceres' receiving corps features Valencia, Luangchai, Keidel and Loveland. The Bulldogs lost their top two receivers, Cruz Flores and Rafael Valencia, to graduation.

"I can't wait," Armando Valencia said. "It's going to be a fun season."

Valencia didn't play football last year.

"I didn't have my grades up," he said. "I was going to go out there after I became eligible but I cracked my rib."

Valencia said he's learned a lot from his coaches this summer.

"They're teaching me how to do it (play receiver) the right way," he said.

Valencia has shown a tremendous amount of improvement.

"I've done pretty good," he said. "But I know I can do better. There's some stuff I need to work on like my routes and my hands. I got to get that down."

Valencia is trying to add muscle to his 5-8 frame.

"I'm small but I don't think size matters," he said. "Hopefully, by the time the season starts, I'll be bigger. I'm lifting weights."

Last month, Ceres participated in a four-team, round-robin tournament at Modesto High School. The Bulldogs competed against Modesto, Johansen and Los Banos.

Ceres will travel to Sierra High School on July 16 and Pitman High School on July 30 for tournaments.

The Bulldogs could play in up to 18 games this summer. Their schedule includes three meetings with the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V champion Central Catholic Raiders.

"The more we do, the better it will be for us," Durossette said.

"It's a great way to judge talent."

Johnson had a message for his players after they struggled against Central Catholic on Tuesday, June 14 in Ceres. The Raiders had twice as many players. They were also bigger and faster.

"Don't get discouraged," Johnson said. "Let this be a learning tool for you guys."

"Hopefully by the time we're done, we'll have some kids a lot further along," Durossette said. -- By DALE BUTLER Staff reporter of the Ceres (Calif.) Courier