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Youth football team prepares to compete in national tournament
TYF pic2
Two Vikings line up during Thursdays practice. - photo by FRANKIE TOVAR / The Journal

For more than 20 years the Turlock Youth Football program has groomed young players and produced countless championship teams. Now, for the first time in TYF history, young Turlockers have the opportunity to showcase their skills at the national level when a hybrid 49er/Viking team travels to Dallas, Texas Christmas week to compete in the Youth National Championship Tournament.

 “They are very much aware that this is the first TYF team to ever travel and attend a tournament like this,” head coach Ted Howze said. “They’ve taken it as an absolute challenge.”

The Turlock team will officially enter the tournament under the Vikings moniker and is comprised of kids 11 years old or younger. The players, who come from three separate teams, have been practicing together since the CEN CAL regular season ended five weeks ago.

“They’ve come together really well,” Howze said.

As the first California team to ever compete in the YNC tournament coaches and players alike are eager to showcase TYF’s football philosophies against stiff competition. The Vikings will rely on their team speed, a huge offensive line and the arm of their quarterback Clay Abrahams, who is among the best in the country.

“It’s their opportunity to see how they stack up against kids their age from other parts of the country that are taught differently,” Howze said. “Win, lose, however it goes, we have a wonderful group of class act young gentlemen.”

Players, coaches and parents leave for Texas on Christmas Day. Once they land they have one day to practice before the first round of the tournament begins on Tuesday. To cover the expenses of such a trip the team raised just under $18,000.

“We’ve been very fortunate to have Cheyenne Etheridge and Lisa Porter, they have done a knock-out job at fundraising,” Howze said. “And Turlock’s a wonderful community. When they found out what we were doing more donors than we could list helped out.”

To contact Frankie Tovar, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.