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Turnout improves for rebuilding Manteca Chargers
Junior novice player Cameron Thomas is fitted for a helmet by coach Jason Brown for the Manteca Chargers at Sierra High. - photo by DAVE CAMPBELL/The Bulletin

One of the most successful youth football franchises in Manteca, the Manteca Chargers have fallen on hard times lately, with falling numbers leading to the failure to make the playoffs at any level last season.

But this year, the 21st campaign in the Delta Youth Football League for the Chargers, looks to be different. With increased numbers this season, the mood around the Manteca camp is optimistic.

“Every level is full,” third-year president David Smith said. “Not full-full, but a lot better than we have been in the past.

“We had to forfeit a couple of games last year at varsity and none of the teams made the playoffs, but the junior novice was a game away. We are only a week into it, but so far things look really good.”

The Chargers were the first Manteca-area team to join the DYFL, with the Delta Rebels (now known as the Jr. Timberwolves) and the Lathrop Titans – now the Lathrop Jr. Spartans – eventually coming into the league.

Originally a local league, the DYFL has expanded to include a team from Hayward and Dublin to make up the South Conference along with the Chargers, Tracy Jr. Bulldogs, Tracy Cougars, the Modesto Vikings and the Jr. Timberwolves.

The DYFL division-specific jamborees are Saturday, Aug. 16 for the Novice at a venue to be determined; at Kimball High School in Tracy on Sunday, Aug. 17 for the Junior Varsity; the Varsity on Saturday, August 23 at Chavez High School in Stockton and the Jr. Novice will be at Chabot College on Sunday, Aug. 24.