Clouds of dust kick up as the members of the Ceres Cowboys varsity, junior-varsity, novice and junior-novice football teams circle the track during a recent practice at Mae Hensley Jr. High School.
The countdown for the upcoming season started in July.
"There's a lot of excitement in the air," said John Thompson, president of the Cowboys Youth Football & Cheer Organization.
About 100 football players and 30 cheerleaders, ranging in age from 6-12, signed up for the Cowboy's 36th season of competition.
Michael McCoy, Felix Ramirez, Damian Foust, Mario Ortega, Hayden Crawford and Dorian King were among the junior-novice players cycling through various conditioning drills while parents and family members watched from nearby at Ceres' Aug. 17 training session.
"We've been practicing since July," Thompson said. "Everyone is very excited. We're all about the kids and community."
The Cowboys' Delta Youth Football League schedule includes games against the Stockton Jr. Kings, Chavez Jr. Titans, Weston Ranch Cougars, Modesto-Empire Vikings, Hayward Aggies, Tracy Raiders, Tracy Cougars, Dublin Fighting Irish, Manteca Timberwolves and Manteca Chargers.
"It's some of the strongest competition around," John Thompson said.
Ceres' home opener will be held at Central Valley High School on Sept. 4. The Cowboys will face the Titans.
Varsity, junior varsity, novice and junior novice will play at 4 p.m., 2 p.m., 12 p.m. and 10 a.m., respectively.
"Everybody is looking forward to it," Thompson said.
Paul Thompson (varsity), Joe Guin (junior varsity), Langston Kennedy (novice) and John Thompson (junior novice) will coach the football teams.
Shawnan Robinson (junior varsity), Georgia Jackson (novice) and Helena Jackson (junior novice) are cheer coaches.
John Thompson has been a member of the Cowboys' organization for nine years. He was named president in 2014. "I like giving back to the kids and community," he said.