It may still be July, but the Turlock Youth Football 49ers and Vikings began their season on Monday at Turlock High with conditioning and basic drills.
These programs saw a great deal of success in the 2012 season and are looking to build upon that success in the 2013 campaign.
The Peewee Vikings annihilated their opponents last season, after they finished the season posting a 13-0 record with a Super Bowl title. The offense racked up 452 points and defense allowed only 52 points all year.
“Hard work and dedication were key to our success,” Vikings Peewee head coach Ted Howze said. “We also have about 70 percent of our starters returning and that should help us be successful this upcoming year and win the Super Bowl.”
Howze's squad looks to repeat with the help of tailback Steve Silva carrying the load behind an offensive line led by Jacob Carlos, and possibly the best pure QB in Seth Magil, who led the league in passing last year.
The Rookie Vikings have won back-to-back Super Bowl titles for the past two seasons. The team had an overhaul of players this year, but hopes of a three-peat are still alive.
“We have some returners coming back, but we're a little rusty right now,” Rookie Vikings head coach Lee Avila said.
Some key players for the Rookie squad will be Cole and Chase Hendrix, who play on both sides of the ball. Along with a young group, the line will be the most important factor for coach Avila.
“Our offensive line carried our offense last year, along with great running backs,” Avila said. “We have a talented group up front along with a great line. The trenches are where it is won or lost.”
The Varsity Vikings finished off a 7-3 2012 season with a playoff berth that ended in a controversial second round loss to Buhach by one point. Now, a year later, head coach Joe Lewis hopes this time the season will end with a championship.
“We went into the second round of the playoffs and lost by one point to the team that eventually went on to play in the Super Bowl,” Lewis said. “We have about five returning players from last year that were seventh graders that are coming back, that’s a good number compared to later years.”
Quarterback Clay Abrams came up as a seventh grader last year along with RB Dustin Grine, both of whom are expected to be key contributors this year.
“Hopefully we can get it done this year and we will see a Turlock Super Bowl ...it will be fun to see that again,” Lewis said.
The JV 49ers squad finished the 2012 year on a high note, winning their final five games in a row — success they hope to continue this season.
“We were very encouraged coming into this year, especially coming off a five-game winning streak,” 49ers JV head coach Will Mathews said. “We barely missed the playoffs.”
This year, with the addition of a number of talented draftees and some returners, the 49ers JV squad looks very promising, said Coach Mathews.
“I am extremely excited about the potential of this team this year. Jesse Dominguez is returning at defensive end and outside backer. Drew Pritchard will be key on offense along with Joey Vasquez,” Mathews said.
The JV Vikings failed to win the Super Bowl last season for a second year as they fell in the first round of the playoffs following a 5-6 year. Now, the team is looking to win their second title in three years as they come in with a talented roster on both sides of the ball.
Returning for the Vikings JV squad are Lucas Curtis and Justin Hines—who play both sides of the ball.
“We like being the underdogs. But nobody expects much from us, but we are the Vikings,” Roberts said. “I think we will surprise some people this year. It is a great group and they work extremely hard. Hard work pays off.”
For the 49ers Rookie team, head coach Brandon Rodriguez comes in the 2013 year ready to win after losing in the second round of the playoffs last season.
“Right now I have a couple of returners that stood out, along with a great draft and, hopefully, we should be in the Super Bowl with the Vikings,” Rodriguez said. “I am excited for another year of football.”
First year head coach Sergio Bravo of the 49ers Peewee team comes in with a different mindset as he looks to bounce back after a 3-7 season that ended without a playoff berth.
“We have a good group of kids with very high expectations. We are worried about teaching them their fundamentals and good football and playing hard,” Bravo said. “We have a lot of returners, all kids are stars. You can’t expect too much from these youngsters but the best out of them. It’s all about having fun; that’s the number one factor.”
Second year head coach Mike Egleston of the Varsity 49ers is looking to bounce back after a 1-9 season in 2012.
In his first year, Egleston had a slim roster with less than 20 kids; now he has over 30 players packed with talent across the board.
“Most of the time when you have 18 kids at practice you cannot do much and it is rough. This year we have kids coming up from JV and we have a lot of talent this year. I think it will be a good year,” Egleston said.
The first games of the youth football season will be Aug. 24 at Joe Debely Stadium.