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Jr. Bulldogs hope to play football
• Season delayed until January because of COVID
Junior Ceres bulldogs
The Junior Bulldogs’ varsity youth football team brought home a first-place trophy from the AYF Super Bowl last season. The 2020 season is slated to begin in January.

The Ceres Jr. Bulldogs and eight other member organizations of the Central Valley Youth Football & Cheer league are hoping to play football this season. 

The 2020 campaign was supposed to get underway on Aug. 3.

The start date was moved to January due to public safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re still anticipating having a season,” CVYFC executive board member Debbie Ruger said. “We haven’t given up. We’re in a holding pattern pending how COVID plays out. We’re holding out all hope we get to play with coronavirus restrictions. We’ll follow all the guidelines. We’re not rebels. We just want to play football.”

If the Jr. Bulldogs and other CVYFC organizations compete this season, coronavirus safety guidelines recommended by state and local health officials will be followed.

Ceres could also limit its roster sizes for all levels to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“The safety of our players, coaches and board will remain our top priority,” Jr. Bulldogs’ Registrar Kimberly Araquistain said. “We are monitoring Stanislaus County’s new cases of COVID and waiting for a major downward trend to occur before we would even try to request to use (Ceres Unified School District) facilities. Our county is in the “Purple Tier” considered widespread and we are waiting for a less restrictive tier to begin our season. We are all trying to navigate through this pandemic and all the challenges associated with it.”

The Jr. Bulldogs have yet to stage conditioning workouts as they’re waiting for CUSD students to return to campus for in-person instruction.

 “We currently can practice in small groups at parks on non-school property,” Ruger said. “It’s not mandatory. We’re not doing any contact. It’s very similar to what the high schools are doing.”

The Jr. Bulldogs are newcomers to CVYFC.

The league features nine teams, including the Jr. Bulldogs, Modesto Raiders, Manteca Cowboys, Manteca Timberwolves, Lathrop Jr. Spartans, Lodi Jr. Flames, Lodi Titans and Galt Warriors.

“The league we’re in is local,” Araquistain said. “There’s no commuting.”

The Jr. Bulldogs enjoyed their most successful year to date in 2019.

Four of Ceres’ five football teams advanced to American Youth Football Super Bowls. The Shaun Johnson-led varsity squad brought home a first-place trophy.

A total of 80 football players have signed up for the Jr. Bulldogs’ 2020 campaign.

Each player will be required to have a guardian sign a COVID-19 waiver to participate.

“I know we are the newest team in Ceres, but I believe after seven years, we are accomplishing our goals as an organization,” Jr. Bulldogs’ President Joe Estrada said. “We always have a great number of players. We are at a lower cost than most teams. We are a family.”