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Darion Voutilier (69) and Darwin Vaquero tangle for the varsity Lathrop Lions in a workout at Mossdale Park. - photo by DAVE CAMPBELL/The Bulletin

LATHROP — To borrow a phrase from John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High,” the Lathrop Lions are coming home to a place they have never been before.

The youth football team’s inaugural 2013 campaign was in the Nor-Cal Alliance League and included opponents from Santa Cruz through the Bay Area, Fairfield, Richmond and Rosemont with the only other local contestant being the West Coast Stockton 49ers.

Not this year.

This season the Lions will move into the South Conference of DYSA Nor-Cal with teams from Modesto, Manteca, Stockton and Tracy.

“It was rough on the parents because we had to travel so far,” said Lions athletic director Joel Dunn. “We looked around this year and found DYSA and we will now travel to just Tracy, Modesto and Stockton.

“We will keep things local until the playoffs and then we may travel a bit.”

Lathrop had five age levels last year but just four this season – starters, rookies, junior varsity and varsity for ages 5-14. All levels made the playoffs last season.

“We had five teams out here before but the bigger boys can be harder to fill,” Dunn said.