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New year, new team
Cars filled the parking lot of the Ceres Unified School District office building on Lawrence Street. At nearby Walter White School, scores of parents lounged in lawn chairs. Eager kids obliged when their coaches barked orders.

That was the scene during Wednesday's Ceres Saints Youth Football and Cheerleading organization's practice.

"The kids are having a great time," said Russ Alcorn, president and founder. "The parents are awesome. It's actually a relief."

Established by Alcorn in January 2007, the Ceres Saints attracted 105 players and 40 cheerleaders, aged 7-14, for their inaugural season. Signups were held at Roundtable Pizza, Costa Fields and Smyrna Park.

Ceres' board consists of Alcorn, Rachelle Gomez (vice president), Angela Osborne (treasurer), Shaina Salazar (secretary), Rosemary Aguilar (registrar), Tami Wright (snack bar coordinator), Mike Romo (member at large), Rudy Rangel (member at large), James Sturgeon (football coordinator), Becky Sturgeon (cheer coordinator) and Dawn Maki (spirit wear).

The football program has five head coaches. Spencer Sumter and Joe Harvey direct the varsity team. Tom Vasquez, Santos Rodarte and Dominic Perez lead the junior-varsity, rookies and starts squads, respectively.

The varsity, junior-varsity, rookies and starts cheer squads have co-head coaches. They are Courtney Sumter and Becky Sturgeon (varsity), Tracy Rojas and Randi Ramsdell (junior varsity), Raeanne Jones and Cortni Ramsdell (rookies), and Lisa Castillo and Jennifer Rosales (starts).

"We got good people," Alcorn said. "We're all pretty committed."

Ceres will compete in the Mountain Valley League's South Division. The conference features the Saints, Manteca Jr. Buffaloes, Lathrop Steelers, Oak Park Buccaneers and Rivercity Raiders. The North Division features the North Sacramento Pacers, Vacaville Bulldogs, Vacaville Christian Falcons, Solano Warriors and Foothill Mustangs. The top four teams from each division advance to the playoffs.

Ceres' nine-game schedule includes five home contests. The Saints play at Central Valley High School three times, and at Ceres High and Blaker-Kinser Jr. High once.

"We have a 12-play mandatory rule (for each player) in our league," Alcorn said.

The Saints' MVL opener against the North Sacramento Pacers will be played on Aug. 25 at Central Valley High School. Varsity, JV, rookies and starts compete at 9 a.m., 11 a.m. 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

"Everyone's excited," Alcorn said.