Julio Marquez, 36, has stepped down as head coach of Ceres High School's varsity boys basketball program to return to his roots.
Marquez and his family, wife Bernadette and son Lionel, are moving to Temecula to be closer to the Pechanga Indian Reservation.
"We knew eventually we'd be doing this," said Julio, who's Native American. "I'm going to get more involved with my Tribe where I'm on a Constitution and Bylaws committee. It's going to be different and a big lifestyle change. We're going to miss being a part of the Ceres community where we were involved in Lions Club, Crab feeds and the Street Faire. We're not going to get to go to Super Moms with our friends every morning for coffee."
Julio's three older siblings, including one sister and two brothers, live in Temecula.
Marquez has 17 nephews and nieces and 10 great nephews and nieces.
Lionel will be turning 1 in October.
"I want our son to be raised around his uncles, aunts and cousins," Julio said. "He'll learn our language and about our customs and traditions. I'm not sure if I'm going to be coaching down there. If I do, it will be at a lower level somewhere or on my Reservation."
Julio coached the Bulldogs for four years.
Ceres High amassed a 53-51 overall record and qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs three times.
The Bulldogs had a .600 winning percentage (27-18) in conference play.
Ceres High was 4-4 against crosstown-rival Central Valley.
The Bulldogs won a playoff game for the first time in 13 years in Marquez's second season.
"I got lucky," Julio said. "I inherited a good program (from Brian de la Porte). He helped develop me as a coach. Shawna Nunes (current Ceres High athletic director) and Phil de la Porte (former Bulldogs A.D.) gave me pointers and taught me how to manage a team. She (Bernadette) did as much work behind the scenes. I had some really good student-athletes. They were really smart."
The 2016-17 Bulldogs went 15-12, placed second in the Western Athletic Conference (7-3) and lost 57-55 in overtime to Golden Valley in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-II playoffs
The 16th-seeded Bulldogs raced out to a 22-12 lead and appeared headed for a lopsided victory versus the 17th-seeded Cougars.
Golden Valley countered with a 17-0 run to close the first half and edged Ceres High.
"That was a great game," Marquez said. "I thought we did a great job battling to put ourselves in position to win. But we came up short."
The 2014-15 Bulldogs (14-12, 7-5) won one of two playoff games.
Eighteenth-seeded Ceres High erased a 14-point deficit on its way to securing a 58-54 victory over No. 15 El Dorado.
"Our team never quit," Marquez said. "That's one of the things I liked about our program. The kids always played hard."
Every season presented its challenges.
The 2013-14 Bulldogs went 13-13, placed fourth in the WAC (5-7) and just missed securing a playoff berth.
Ceres High also lost twice to Central Valley.
"Coaching requires a lot of time and commitment," Marquez said. "It's not just about teaching the kids X's and O's and getting them to run. You have to learn how to manage a team. It can be very stressful."
Marquez was an assistant coach on Brian de la Porte's staff for four seasons.
Ceres High won its first league title in 17 years, had a 17-9 overall record and qualified for the playoffs in 2010-11.
Brian guided the Bulldogs for five years. Ceres High collected 61 victories and participated in the postseason twice.
Marquez and de la Porte played varsity boys basketball together at Ceres High for one season (1997-98).
Julio and Brian are close friends.
"Once he asked me to help him as an assistant, I liked it," Julio said. "I was hooked. It's totally different from other sports. It was a blessing getting an opportunity to coach with Brian. He was always trying to build the program. He wanted all three levels to do well every year."
Marquez graduated from Ceres High in 1998.
Julio earned five varsity letters, including two in both basketball and baseball and one in football.
He pitched and majored in Native American Studies at UC Davis.
Julio and his family plan to make multiple road trips to Ceres every year following their move to Temecula.
"I'm going to miss coaching at Ceres High," Marquez said. "That's where I went to high school. My extended family is there. We'll come back. We'll make sure Phil has our crab-feed tickets for us."