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Jr. Bulldogs to offer tutoring program for athletes
Andre Flores and the Ceres Jr. Bulldogs starts football team defeated the Pitman Jr. Pride 35-7 on Saturday in Turlock. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

The Ceres Jr. Bulldogs Youth Football & Cheer Organization has established a tutoring program for its athletes.

Sessions will be offered twice a month at practices during the course of the 2016 season at Cesar Chavez Jr. High.

"We're pushing academics," said Joe Estrada, second-year president. "It's going to be a big thing. It's going to benefit the kids. I got parents that want to help out. Once the report cards come out, we'll see who is struggling and we'll help them out. We're trying to get the kids prepared for high school. If you don't get good grades, you can't play. School comes first."

Ceres' membership consists of 120 football players and 60 cheer leaders, aged 6-14.

Estrada (varsity), Marquez Campbell (junior varsity), Shaun Johnson (rookies) and Abel Herrera (starts) are head coaches for football.

Pearl Lo (varsity), Clinton Clifford (junior varsity), Joanna Gonzalez (rookies) and Deneane Beaulieu (starts/mascots) direct the cheer squads.

"Family first," Estrada said. "That's our slogan. We're just trying to get better every year. We run a very tight program. We don't allow negativity. The parents see it and respect that."

The Jr. Bulldogs are members of the newly-established Central Valley Gridiron Youth Football & Cheer League, along with the Central Valley Ducks, Delhi Jr. Hawks, Merced Gauchos, Pitman Jr. Pride and San Joaquin Jaguars.

"It cuts down on traveling," commissioner/co-founder Estrada said when asked why Ceres changed leagues. "I have three or four teams interested in joining us next year."

Estrada has coached youth football in Ceres for 11 years.

He's been affiliated with the Ceres Jr. Bulldogs organization since its inception in 2013.

"I have a good relationship with my parents," he said. "Without them, we wouldn't have a program. The feedback I get back from them is positive. I love the kids, families and Ceres community."

Ceres' homecoming opponent will be the Central Valley Ducks.

Varsity, junior varsity, rookies and starts will play at 6 p.m., 4 p.m., 2 p.m. and 12 p.m., respectively, this Saturday at Ceres High.

The Jr. Bulldogs will honor Bella Sienna Orozco Ramirez, who lost her battle with cancer at Valley Children's Hospital in Madera on July 14.

Bella was just 11 years old.

She cheered for Ceres for three seasons.

"I was actually working when I got the news," Estrada said. "It was a complete shock. She was quick to help others. That's how I remember her."