Last season, the Burbank Vikings Youth Tackle Football program's Midget Green team captured a Pacific Youth Football League Super Bowl championship with a resounding 34-6 victory against Ventura Black.
This season, with another solid turnout for the organization, the Vikings are looking to establish a tradition of appearances in Super Bowl games.
"Last year it was great that we had the team that made it to the championship game, and that Super Bowl team is back," Burbank Vikings President Kirk Jensen said. "But we also have another team that we fully expect can make it there as well this season. We've got a pretty nice program this year."
"But for successful teams like those, they put in a lot of work. In fact, they mainly practice year round now."
The Vikings teams have been engaged in preseason practices for three weeks, working up to opening week on Aug. 31. Jensen said he estimates there are more than 200 players out so far and the organization will field nine teams. In addition, the cheerleading program boasts 40-50 participants.
The organization is open to boys and girls 7-14, who play on teams determined by an age/weight formula.
The Vikings teams will play eight to 10 regular-season games in the PYFL, which includes squads from San Fernando Valley, Ventura County, Simi Valley and Santa Clarita.
"We start in August this year and the PYFL had been moving games back the last few years so we can be closer to the high school schedule," Jensen said. "Actually, we're starting before the high schools this year. Everything we go by is CIF rules."
PYFL games are largely played according to those high-school rules. However, in keeping with the philosophy of providing fun for the athletes, every player is guaranteed at least 12 downs per game.
There is also a no-piling-on rule and a 25-point rule, meaning that any time a team develops a 25-point advantage, it must remove its dominant players from the game.
It is, in fact, the PYFL's objective to "keep the welfare of the player first, foremost, and entirely free of the adult lust for glory."
Along with the regular season, Vikings' teams are also playing for spots in the playoffs. There is also a homecoming ceremony. Home games will be played on Saturdays at Burbank High.
For more than four decades, the Vikings, which began in 1969, has been the premier tackle football program in the city. Along with serving as a feeder program for the Burbank-area high schools — Burroughs, Burbank and Bellarmine-Jefferson — the organization has also helped develop players who have gone on to enjoy success at the college level, as well as the NFL.
"What is great is that we get a lot of support from the two local high school coaches," said Jensen of Burbank High Coach Hector Valencia and Keith Knoop of Burroughs, who also serve on the league's advisory board. "Without them we wouldn't be able to do as well as we have. They both have been really good to the Vikings and they are always there to help."