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Youth campaign begins
The members of Ceres' four youth football and cheer organizations have been hard at work preparing for the 2009 season.

The Cowboys, Saints, Seahawks and Raptors will play more than a combined 140 games over the next couple of months.

Presidents Madeline Patterson, Russ Alcorn, Javier Fregoso and Michelle Patterson answered questions during interviews with the Ceres Courier recently.

Ceres Cowboys

The Ceres Cowboys have been in existence for over 30 years.

More than 250 boys and girls signed up for this season, including 150 football players and 102 cheerleaders. Practices are being held Monday through Friday, from 6-8 p.m. at Mae Hensley Jr. High School.

"We're surprised," Madeline Patterson said. "Our enrollment's up because our program has been consistent the last three years. The families coming in know what to expect."

Madeline and her husband Jim (novice head coach) have been affiliated with the Cowboys since 1993. All three of their children are former members. Michael and Stephanie returned to coach football and cheer, respectively. James, a 6-foot-2, 250-pound lineman at University of Mary in North Dakota, begins his senior year on Aug. 25.

"When our kids were playing for the Cowboys, they received a good influence," Madeline said. "We feel like we can do the same thing."

Ceres will take on the North Stockton Bengals, McNair Eagles, Tracy Raiders, Modesto Vikings, Manteca Chargers, Tracy Cougars, Lathrop Titans, Modesto 49ers, Dublin Falcons and Delta Rebels during the Delta Youth Football League season. The Cowboys, Raiders, Vikings, Chargers, Cougars, 49ers, Falcons and Rebels are south-conference rivals.

Shane Trousdale, Kam Davis and Travis Borchardt have been assigned to coach varsity, junior-varsity and junior novice, respectively.

The Cowboys' first game will be played at Bear Creek High School on Aug. 29. Ceres will take on the Stockton Bengals, members of the DYFL north conference.

Ceres Saints

The Ceres Saints will be competing in a brand-new conference this year.

The third-year program joined the Brentwood-based Delta Youth Sports Association for one reason.

"We were happy in that league (Mountain Valley), but we needed to cut our travel down big time," Alcorn said.

Close to 100 boys and girls, aged 6 to 14, will play football and cheer for the Saints in 2009.

Teams have been training five days a week at Argus High School.

"We're just looking forward to the upcoming season," Alcorn said.

DYSA consists of nine organization's, including the Saints, Central Valley Trojans, Tokay Tigers, Galt Warriors, Liberty Ranch Jr. Hawks, Delta Valley Wolf Pack, Delta Patriots East, Delta Patriots West and Delta Patriots North,

Head coaching positions for football will be filled by Vincent Martinez (varsity), Zak Muller (junior varsity), Santos Perez (rookies) and Tom Raleigh (starts).

The Saints kicked off the 2009 season this past Saturday against the Tokay Jr. Tigers. Games were played at Central Valley High School.

Ceres Seahawks

The Ceres Seahawks have fielded full teams at all four levels since their inception in 2007.

"It started from nothing and has grown into what it is," Fregoso said. "We've had a lot of success because we've had a lot of support behind us."

The Seahawks registered a program-record 155 football players and 42 cheerleaders for the 2009 season. Members range in age from 5 to 14. Practices are held Monday through Friday, from 6-8 p.m., at Blaker-Kinser Jr. High School.

"The energy has been positive," Fregoso said. "I think we're going to do well. We have a lot of talent."

Ceres will compete in the Cen-Cal Junior Football League. The Seahawks face the Hilmar Packers, Merced Bears, Turlock Vikings, Buhach Thunder, Oakdale Stampede, Manteca Jaguars, Livingston Wolves, Waterford Sabercats, Merced Cougars and Modesto Broncos.

Ceres' head football coaches are Joe Borba (varsity), Randy Flanagan (junior varsity), Sonny Ogden (pee wees) and Randy Scacutto (rookies).

The Seahawks will open the season with home contests against Hilmar on Aug. 29 at Central Valley High School.

"The kids and coaches are excited," Fregoso said. "We'll be competitive."

Ceres Raptors

The Ceres Raptors attracted 92 football players and 25 cheerleaders, aged 5-14, for their inaugural season.

Members practiced for the first time on July 20 at Roeding Heights Park.

"Everything is running good," Michelle Patterson said. "We haven't had any complaints. I'm really amazed."

The Raptors organization was founded in December by a group of parents, including longtime Ceres resident Tom Vasquez. Vasquez, Patterson's husband, agreed to serve as football coordinator and varsity head coach.

"We'd like to model ourselves after the Ceres Seahawks," he said. "They have a really strong program."

The Raptors' operating budget will exceed $42,000. Ceres must pay for insurance, league fees and football equipment and gear.

"We've done a lot of fundraising," Patterson said. "We've had a lot of help."

The Raptors are members of the Modesto-based National Youth Football League. Ceres will battle the Modesto Raiders, Modesto Titans, Modesto Eagles, Modesto Panthers, Patterson Redskins, Manteca Cowboys, Weston Ranch Eagles and Weston Ranch Ravens this year.

Mark Amador, Ray Castillo and Jose Montes will coach junior varsity, rookies and starts, respectively.

"This is going to be a really fun year," Patterson said. "I'm excited for these kids. They have a lot of heart."

The Seahawks competed for the first time this season when they played host to the Modesto Titans on Saturday at Blaker-Kinser Jr. High School.