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Welcome home Stanislaus Cardinals
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Angel Torres of the Stanislaus Cardinals attempts to throw a ball over an Alameda County defender during Saturdays week two matchup at Big Valley Christian High. - photo by FRANKIE TOVAR / The Journal

Turlock sports continue to thrive.

The city has recently adopted a new franchise, the Stanislaus Cardinals from the California Developmental Football League.

Turlock already has a professional indoor soccer team, The Express, NCAA Division II athletics at Cal State Stanislaus, and now a semi-pro football team to add to the list of sports in the area.

“At first we wanted to get the team to be based out of Delhi but then there was some issues with the home stadium and so forth so then we decided to contact Turlock and they liked the idea,” said Cardinals head coach and co-owner Erik Martinez.

Luckily for Martinez, the Cardinals will host their home games at Joe Debely Stadium beginning next year.

As for this season, the Cardinals are already two games in the season and are currently 0-2 after facing two of the more prolific defenses in the CDFL in the East Valley Bandits and the Alameda Knights.

Along with the Bandits, the Cardinals are currently sharing the home field at Big Valley Christian High School for the season.

“Richard Cobb, the coach of the Bandits was nice enough to let us use their stadium for our home games this season then we will be in Turlock next year,” said Martinez. “Richard has really helped us a lot, really without him we wouldn't be here.”

As the newest team added to the CDFL, the Cardinals had to go through a much tougher process to put together a team.

Martinez was able to recruit local talent from the entire Stanislaus County, and with the help of former Big Valley quarterback Zack Ziegler, he was able to attract a large portion of the receiving corp.

Ziegler is leading an offense which focuses on a shotgun spread type of attack with a pass first emphasis.

The receivers for the Cardinals have already proved to be the most versatile weapons for Ziegler and company.

Joshua Strong, Alex Aguilar and Klay Hopper are the three wideouts who have been the focal point for the offense after the first two games.

“Since we are a new team there will be ups and downs and we know that,” Martinez said. “But at the same time there is a lot of excitement to be better as a team and as the year progresses.”

Running back Shamar Pulliam will carry most of the load and has so far for an offense that has only put up eight points in their first two games.

On the defensive side, defensive linemen Neko Mejia has been wreaking havoc in the interior line against the opposition and if he stays healthy will only get better as the season progresses.

Defensive end, Leonard Williams has been an engine out there behind a defense that is undersized but extremely talented with some quickness which they can use as their edge.

“This is great for the fans and the community to have a semi pro team,” said Martinez.

The Cardinals next game will be at Corbus Field against the Solano Hornets at 4 p.m. Saturday.