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Recharged

Future bright for Chargers thanks to increasing numbers

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Recharged

Dominic Valentine attacks the blocking dummy at full speed during the Manteca Jaguars junior novice football practice Tuesday at Sierra High.

JONAMAR JACINTO/The Bulletin


POSTED August 4, 2011 12:14 a.m.

It’s been a stressful past few weeks for Manteca Chargers president Jon Shaefer.

Not that he’s complaining.

“I spent part of my day ordering 55 more helmets and 30 more shoulder pads because we picked up more kids this year,” Shaefer said during the varsity team’s practice at Sierra High Tuesday.

It’s a nice problem to have considering the state of the organization when Shaefer came on board as vice president in 2006.

Shaefer said about 170 players have registered, up from around 115 a year ago. The junior novice and novice squads are bursting at the seams — both are full with 45 players each and waiting lists in place.

And for the first time in years, the varsity team will have depth. While the Chargers haven’t had to scrap their varsity team in recent years, they’ve come close.

“At this point last year we had 10 varsity players and we had to scholarship most of them,” Shaefer said. “This year, we have very few players on scholarship because most of them are squared away with fund raising that helped with their registration fees.

“This is the point we wanted to be at. When (former president) Jim Anderson brought me along six years ago we kind of reformulated the program. We talked about wanting to get the program to where it was in the 90s, but back in the 90s we didn’t have competition from all the other youth football programs we have now.”

The Chargers haven’t had a team capture a Delta Youth Football League championship since the varsity did it in 2000. The varsity has other titles in 1995, 1997 and 1999, while the junior varsity annexed one in 1999.

The Chargers have qualified just one team to the playoffs in the last three seasons. The novice teams in 2008 and 09 took third in the postseason, and as did last year’s JV squad. All of those teams were coached by Shaefer.

The key to establishing continuity, Shaefer said, is in the lower levels. He believes the Chargers are heading in the right direction because the numbers have been there on the junior novice and novice squads the last three years.

“It’s just like any other youth organization, be it in baseball, softball or whatever,” he said. “Your lower levels are the future of the program. If you don’t have lower levels you are going to struggle.

“We’ve got a good group of coaches and a good group of players and I think our numbers are showing it. Now we just have to put the work in the practice field and make good things happen.”

The Chargers open the DYFL preseason Aug. 27 against the North Stockton Bears at Sierra High.

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