DELHI, California (STPNS) -- Ramon Prado and Ceasar Maldonado have known each other since they were children. They grew up together, attended Delhi schools together and in 2004, they graduated from Delhi High School together. Then, they went in slightly different directions.

Prado attended Merced College, then transferred to San Jose City College after moving to San Jose. He returned home and is currently a student at Modesto Junior College where he is a history major hoping to transfer to California State University Stanislaus and go on to become a history teacher.



Maldonado, on the other hand, attended DeVry where he studied accounting. He is currently studying through the University of Phoenix and expects to have his Bachelor of Arts degree in accounting completed by January 2008.

Their story does not stop with the schools they attended following their graduation from Delhi High School. In fact, it has become of far greater interest to more people within the past couple of months.

Together, they researched semi-professional football. They looked up information and contacted owners of existing teams. Maldonado has maintained an interest in football since playing in high school. His observation has been that many high school football players do not go on to play in college and subsequently do not play professionally. However, they stay interested in the sport would love the opportunity to play again. So, a semi-pro team made sense.

With the research and the interest, the two have worked together to start a local team with the Golden Coast Football League (GCFL). The Turlock Spartans will allow those with a passion for football to play locally. A team in the same league already exists in Merced, the Merced Mustangs. The Modesto Raiders are in another league.

?With dedication and effort, things can be done,? says Prado.

In a time when communities seem to lack a unification as people are so busy in the ?rat race? of life, Prado and Maldonado hope to use this football team to bring the local community together. Although the team has a Turlock name and will play in Turlock, the two DHS graduates look forward to being involved in the Delhi community as well. Afterall, they are from Delhi and want to give back to their community. They looked to Delhi first in hopes of having the team play in their hometown, but it did not work out. Their official home field has yet to be determined, but will be in Turlock. They expect to practice in Turlock as well.

?This is not just a team to watch, but a team to get involved with,? says Prado.

During the month of April, the two will begin signing up people interested in either playing on the team or joining the cheerleading squad. Interested players are encouraged to sign up and indicate which positions they are interested in playing. Two sign-up dates have been scheduled for Sunday, April 15 and Sunday, April 22 from noon to 5 p.m. in front of the WalMart in Turlock. They hope to draw players in from Turlock, Ceres, Modesto, Hilmar, Denair, Hughson and, of course, Delhi. They will likely welcome players from Livingston as well. They do not want to encroach too much into the Merced team's sphere of influence. They also do not want people to have to commute too far for practices, so they hope most people will come from communities close to Turlock.

Once they have a full roster of people interested in playing, they expect to begin tryouts. The goal is to begin tryouts by this summer. From there, practices should begin in the fall and the 2008 season will get underway in April of next year.

In addition to looking for players and cheerleaders, they are also hoping to gain sponsors. The team is classified as a non-profit organization.

Anyone interested in being a part of the Turlock Spartans in any way can reach Prado at (209) 735-1178 and Maldonado at (209) 216-8754. They can also be reached via e-mail at turlockspartans@yahoo.com and they have a MySpace page set up at www.myspace.com/turlockspartans.

Some traveling will be involved once the season begins. They also look forward to it providing family fun. They view it as providing either a fun evening or fun afternoon for the entire family.

Maldonado has enjoyed receiving the support of his own family through this process.

?My mom is all for it,? Maldonado says.

He goes on to say that his family loves the idea of his being a part of starting this football team.

Although Prado hasn't received the same level of support, he is using the feedback he's hearing from people to motivate him to succeed in this venture.

The two recognize that it will continue to take a lot of hard work, but they feel they are ready for it.

Says Prado, ?we're up for the challenge."