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Perennial contenders aim to get back to championship
Derek Alicea runs the ball for the Manteca Cowboys rookies at Neil Hafley School. - photo by Dave Campbell

The oldest mascot in Manteca youth football will begin its 12th season under the direction of team president Eddie Lopez. 

In 2002 the original Cowboys folded before Lopez resurrected the name a year later and has enjoyed tremendous success in the ensuing 11 campaigns, highlighted by a four-peat Super Bowl run for the junior varsity from 2009-2012 and back-to-back varsity Super Bowl wins for the varsity in 2011 and 2012.

But 2013 saw no Super Bowl trophies added to the bulging Cowboys trophy case, and Lopez hopes to change that this year.

“Except for the starts – which are sitting at about 50 percent – each level has about an 80 percent or better return rate,” Lopez said. “So we all have high hopes.

“All four levels made it to the playoffs last year and two – the starts and rookies –  made it to the Super Bowl and every level has a bunch of returners. Everyone looks really good and we stand a chance of making the playoffs in every division.”

For years, the Cowboys were the only Manteca-area team in the Delta Youth Sports Association. This year Manteca welcomes the Lathrop Lions into the fold, and both will compete in a round robin in Modesto on Saturday, Aug. 16, before the Cowboys host Lathrop on Saturday, Sept. 6.