A year ago at this time, the Ceres Jr. Bulldogs Youth Football & Cheer Organization had to cancel its 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Jr. Bulldogs kicked off their 2021 campaign this past month.
“The kids are super excited and the parents are happy to get some normalcy back in their lives,” Registrar Kimberly Araquistain said.
Approximately 138 football players and 35 cheerleaders, aged 5-14, signed up for the 2021 season.
Cost was $250 per player and $650 per cheerleader.
“It (COVID concerns) didn’t impact our numbers,” Araquistain said. “Everybody wants to get back to what they were doing before the pandemic. Masks are optional for players. Cheerleaders have to wear masks when we do stunting. We have plenty of hand sanitizer.”
“We have a really large following,” she added. “Our organization wasn’t going to fold. Our prices are so reasonable.”
The Jr. Bulldogs’ head football coaches are Shaun Johnson (varsity), Richard Alderete (junior varsity), DeAndre Gonder (rookies) and Augie Cerpa (starts).
Ceres’ cheer coaches are Mariah Salter (varsity), Julianna Estrada (junior varsity), Janessa Estrada (rookies) and Lisa Perez (starts).
“Running an organization is not easy,” Araquistain said. “You have to have help and support. It’s a lot of work.”
The Jr. Bulldogs’ are currently trying to raise $35,000 for new football pads.
Les Schwab Tire Center, Super Mom’s Frozen Yogurt & More and Ceres Drug Store donated a combined $1,200 to the organization.
To assist the Jr. Bulldogs in purchasing football gear, contact Board member Carol Grimes at 209-496-5438.
“We’ve been trying to reach out to different places,” Araquistain said. “We’re trying to update all of our stuff. We want to switch everything to Riddell.”
Practices are held Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, from 6-8 p.m. at Cesar Chavez Jr. High.
“We delayed the start of our season until the school district gave up the okay for field use,” Araquistain said. “They had to follow their rules and protocols.”
The Jr. Bulldogs will compete in the Central Valley Youth Football League during their ninth year of existence.
Ceres’ conference schedule includes games against the Tracy Buccaneers, Manteca Cowboys, Lathrop Spartans, Central Valley 49ers, Modesto Raiders, Lodi Jr. Flames and Manteca Buffaloes.
The Jr. Bulldogs will play against the Buccaneers and Jr. Flames twice.
Playoffs will be staged on Oct. 30 and Nov. 6.
The Super Bowl will be played on Nov. 13.
“We lost a couple teams in our league due to the pandemic,” Araquistain said. “All of our teams are local. There’s no long-distance travel.”
Ceres’ rookies and starts teams both improved to 4-0 on the season this past weekend after collecting wins against the Central Valley 49ers.
The Jr. Bulldogs’ varsity and JV teams dropped to 1-3 on the year.
“The kids are back on the field getting their fitness in,” Araquistain said. “They have an outlet now.”