Last week the 2008 Jr. Midget team of the Santa Monica Youth Football and Cheer organization captured the title of Coast Conference Champions. This weekend they played for the 2008 Pacific Coast Conference Championship. This was the fourth playoff appearance and the third Championship appearance for Coach Michael Ehrlich’s Vikings.
The Vikings faced the 2007 National Champion Lakewood Longhorns who were led by Coach Rick Tiedemann and have lost only one game in the past five years. This was the third time the Vikings have played against this Lakewood team for the PCC championship, first in 2005 and then again in 2007.
The Vikings came in to Mira Costa High School Saturday with a 9-1 record and the Lakewood Longhorns came in undefeated at 10-0. The Vikings moved the ball well with their impressive ground attack featuring Atzlan Gonzalez and Daniel Collins, keeping the game close for most of the first half. Then the Longhorns scored a touchdown at the end of the second quarter to go up 20-8. In the second half penalties bogged down the Viking offense and the Longhorns scored another touchdown to put the score at 26-8. With six minutes left in the fourth quarter, Jordan Detamore’s pass was tipped and intercepted in the end zone by the Longhorns, effectively ending the Vikings’ chances for a victory.
After the game, Coach Ehrlich praised his team and congratulated them on their performance. “This was a great team you played. I’m proud of all you guys and what you’ve accomplished this season. Before the game we told you we don’t care what the score is. What do I care about most? ” “Heart!” the young Vikings shouted, many now in tears. “That’s right,” Coach Ehrlich responded, his voice now cracking with emotion. You showed heart out there and all of you left it out on the field today so keep your heads up. Your coaches are proud of you. Your parents are proud of you. Now go home to your families and get some rest. You’ve earned it.”
The mood was solemn as the players disbanded slowly, saying goodbyes and exchanging contact information. There was no victory party as planned. For some of these players, who have been together for years, this would be the last time they would play together. Aztlan Gonzalez, Brandon Lapins, Jager Metz, Ted Fructman, Eric Esparza, and Arturo Ruiz II will be moving on to high school next year. In a few weeks, the team will get together to watch highlights and have pizza and then many of them will not see each other until next August when practice starts again and the 2009 season begins. Till then they will think about what could have been and plan what could be, next year.
The Jr. Midget Vikings were coached by Michael Ehrlich, Jason Detamore, Paul Feinberg, Felipe Gutierrez, John Perretti, and Larry Reed. Irene Regalado was the General Manager. Santa Monica Youth Football is the only organization in Santa Monica to provide tackle football and cheerleading for boys and girls ages 7-14 and flag football for children ages 5-7. More information is available at smvikings.com.