The Ceres Seahawks joined the Central Valley Gridiron Youth Football & Cheer League on July 27.
The Seahawks spent the previous 11 years in CenCal.
“It stinks having to leave CenCal,” President Willie Solorio said. “But the age-restriction rule would have made us go bankrupt. We wouldn’t have enough kids to play if we didn’t make the change. We met with parents before we made the decision.”
A total of 110 football players and 60 cheerleaders, aged 6-14, signed up for the 2018 season.
Ceres will field football teams at the following levels: varsity (14-and-under), junior varsity (12&under), rookies (10&under) and starts (8&under).
Parents and family members watched from the shade the first week of practice, staged July 30-Aug. 3, at Blaker-Kinser Jr. High.
Each practice session lasted two hours (6-8 p.m.).
Each player was required to complete 10 hours of conditioning before being allowed to train in full gear.
“We’re in a rebuilding year,” varsity head coach Anthony Lopez said. “It’s fun getting to reteach everything. “We should have another successful season. We might not be as dominant but we’ll be competitive.”
“This is my third year coaching at this level,” said Jose Luis Ortiz, starts head coach. “I enjoy seeing the end results.”
The Ceres-based Central Valley Gridiron Youth Football & Cheer League features a total of seven organizations, including the Ceres Jr. Bulldogs, Seahawks, Turlock Hornets, Central Valley Lions, Salida Steeler-Jags, Lodi Flames and El Capitan Gauchos.
“It’s strictly a one-year trial,” Solorio said. “If we like it, we’ll stay.”
The Seahawks will kick off the 2018 campaign at home on Aug. 25.
Ceres will compete against Lodi at Central Valley High School.
Varsity, junior-varsity, rookies and starts will play at 6 p.m., 4 p.m., 2 p.m. and 12 p.m., respectively.
The Seahawks program was founded in 2007 by Javier Fregoso.
“We have one of the more established organizations,” Solorio said. “This is our 12th year. Everything we do is for the kids. We don’t get paid for this. We’re all volunteers. It’s a lot of work.”