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Football Camp Starts For Junior Bruin Squads
The over-8 group runs timed 20-yard sprints during the Saturday football camp session for the Riverbank Junior Bruin Youth Football teams at Castleberg Park. Coach and team president Casey Blevins, left, starts one of the participants on his run. The weekend sessions continue July 22 and 23, with all-out practices beginning July 31 at Riverbank High School. Ric McGinnis/The News

As the end of summer draws near, some athlete’s hearts turn to thoughts of ... yes, you guessed it, football.

Riverbank schools will see classes back in session on Wednesday, Aug. 9, but football practice, at least for the Junior Bruins youth teams, began this past weekend, with workouts both Saturday and Sunday mornings.

And the last day to sign up for this season will be tonight, July 19, at Pizza Plus in downtown.

Between 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. there’ll be sign-ups for both the football teams and the cheer squads. Mascots can be as young as four years old, but players and cheerleaders must be between five and 14 years old by July 31, 2017. Coach Casey Blevins noted that all eighth graders must play varsity, regardless of their age.

July 31 is also the first day of practice, at the field alongside Claus Road on the Riverbank High School campus, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

And the coach noted a new age-level team beginning this year. Called the Futures team, it includes 5- to 6-year-olds, making five levels of play for the Junior Bruin teams.

The other levels include the Starts, 7- and 8-year-olds, the Rookies, the 9- and 10-year-olds. The JVs are 11- and 12-year-olds, with the Varsity Junior Bruins being 13- and 14-year-olds.

Coach Blevins also serves as team president and recently released the 2017 football schedule over last weekend. It includes four home games on the nine week schedule:

Week 1: Home against the Jr. Bulldogs of Ceres, Sept. 2.

Week 2: Home, against the Jaguars of Stockton, Sept. 9.

Week 3: At Lodi, against the Jr. Flames, Sept. 16.

Week 4: Home against the Central Valley Jets of Modesto, Sept. 23.

Week 5: At Turlock, against the Jr. Pride, Sept. 30.

Week 6: At Delhi, against the Jr. Hawks, Oct. 7.

Week 7: Oct. 14, Bye Week

Week 8: Home, against the Merced/Atwater El Capitan Jr. Gauchos, Oct. 21.

Week 9: At Gregori High School, against the Salida Steeler Jags, Oct. 28.

All the games are on Saturdays.

Before the regular season starts, league teams gather to play a Jamboree, a series of scrimmages against each other, round robin format, on Saturday, Aug. 26.

Last year, the Jr. Bruins were in the Motherlode Valley Football League, but had to change affiliations to accommodate their younger team. This year, they are aligned with the Central Valley Gridiron Youth Football League.

Officials listed James Duarte as head coach for the Futures, R.J. Castro as head coach of the Starts. Javier Martinez serves as head coach of the Rookies, with Steve Bosworth coaching the JV team and Jose Valencia heading up the Varsity team.

Jr. Bruin head cheer coach Lilly Garcia said she’s still looking for three head cheer coaches for the various levels. A mandatory Cheer Stunt Camp is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 5 and 6, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. both days at Stan State in Turlock. There will be a performance for parents 3:45 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Sunday.

More Information for both the cheer program and the football teams will be available Wednesday, July 21 for the last round of sign ups, at Pizza Plus from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

The organization has scheduled a swim day and potluck dinner for Saturday, July 29, from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Families participating are asked to bring a dish to share, swim trunks and a towel.