It’s been two weeks since the Burbank and Burroughs football teams
were eliminated from the CIF Southern Section Division II playoffs.
The third area team -- Bellarmine-Jefferson -- didn’t even make it
to the postseason, despite a 7-3 record.
However, just across the city limits in Sun Valley, a group of
local athletes is not only still competing in the playoffs, but are
one step away from playing for a Division XII championship.
Village Christian School, which includes 11 Burbank residents, is
playing at 7:30 p.m. tonight in a Division XII semifinal game against
visiting Ontario Christian at Granada Hills Kennedy High.
Crusaders’ Coach Marty Martin said having a large contingent of
players from Burbank has been a long-standing trend at the school,
not only in football, but in other sports as well.
A good number of those athletes have learned the fundamentals of
the sport and gained game experience competing for the Burbank
Vikings Youth Tackle Football Program.
“We always get good kids who have participated in the Burbank
Vikings’ program,” Martin said. “We support the program and we buy an
ad every year in their program. I even take a picture with all the
Vikings who are on our team to go in the program.
“The Vikings really do a fine job at teaching the kids football at
an early age. I give a lot of credit to [President] Mike McDonald for
helping the program come back. And you can see the difference in the
program since Mike’s taken over.”
Senior lineman Dustin Burke and senior running back/linebacker
Tyler Martin -- the coach’s son -- played on the same Burbank
Vikings’ team when they were younger.
“Those guys are products of the program, and I think it is a very
important program to have for the young players,” Martin said. “And I
look for the program to keeping getting stronger and more
Success is something Village Christian (10-2) has had a knack for
this season. Its only losses have been against Flintridge Prep, 20-7,
and Westlake Village Oaks Christian, 55-20, teams that are still in
the playoffs and competing in divisional semifinal games.
Martin said although the loss to Flintridge Prep was
disappointing, it served as a turning point in the Crusaders’ season.
“We thought we could just show up and we would be able to win,” he
“I would say after the Flintridge game, we really got to it that
week in practice, and that put us on track for the rest of the
Since the loss to the Rebels, Village Christian has been on a
mission, rolling to seven straight victories and outscoring its
One of the team’s biggest accomplishments came on Nov. 14 when it
captured an Alpha League championship, easily defeating rival North
Hills L.A. Baptist, 54-14, in the annual “Bible Bowl.”
With his team on a roll, Martin said he expects his players to be
ready for the most important game of their season tonight against
Ontario Christian (10-2).
It will be a grudge match for Village Christian, which lost to the
Knights, 34-7, in last year’s division quarterfinals.
“We know Ontario Christian is going to be a very good team,” said
Martin, whose team includes 21 seniors.
“We set our goal last year, when we lost them in the
quarterfinals, to be CIF champions this season. And we have worked
since January to accomplish that goal.”
Martin said one of the biggest motivations for his players is
their desire to win the first CIF title in the 54-year history of the
It would be just the school’s third championship, after the boys’
volleyball team and softball team won titles in May.
“We have a camp every year when we first start practice,” Martin
said. “We got all the players together and we asked them ‘What kind
of legacy do you want to leave, and what do you want your memory to
be with this team?’ Each kid had a chance to respond and almost all
of them said they wanted to win a CIF championship.”
With a win against Ontario Christian, the Crusaders could
accomplish their mission Dec. 13 in the title game at a site to be