By Steve Knez
BurbankNBeyond Staff Writer
Senior Green finally got the monkey off its back with a 32-20 see-saw victory over the Santa Clarita Warriors in the semifinals at Pacifica High School in Oxnard last Saturday. Revenge is sweet, especially when it comes in the form of a Super Bowl. The Vikings (10-1) are now headed to the Pacific Youth Football League title game against North Oxnard Black.
Along with Midget Green, Senior Green will represent the city of Burbank in the PYFL Super Bowl this Saturday at Thousand Oaks High School at 7:00 p.m. It is the first time since 2007 that a team from Burbank has made it to the title game. In the 19-year history of the PYFL, no team from Burbank at any level has won the Super Bowl.
The Warriors had knocked Senior Green out of the playoffs for three consecutive years and had won every head-to-head contest since both teams were at the Pee Wee level. However, the Vikings won the biggest match in the final season of the rivalry and have bragging rights as both teams graduate their players to high school.
The heavy wind in Oxnard all but eliminated the passing game and both teams were forced to rely on the running game. After each team failed to score in their first possessions, Khalid Taylor broke to the outside and scored on a 52-yard touchdown run to give the Vikings a 6-0 lead. The Warriors answered with a methodical 73-yard drive that resulted in a touchdown and successful 2-point conversion for an 8-6 lead.
Nick Warren returned the kickoff 35 yards and Jake Kelley ran the ball up the middle for a 16-yard gain on the first play of the Vikings’ third possession. On the next play, Taylor ran for a 19-yard touchdown and the Vikings were back on top, 12-8.
After a few non-scoring possessions by each team, the Warriors ate up the clock once again with a 46-yard scoring drive to take a 14-12 lead. The Vikings answered right back with an 80-yard drive that took five minutes off the clock, highlighted by a 25-yard gain on fourth down by Brandon Beardt. With 17 seconds left in the first half, Kelley ran for a short touchdown and the Vikings took an 18-14 lead into halftime.
The Warriors opened the second half with another long drive resulting in a touchdown and a 20-18 lead. The Vikings were stopped on four downs and the Warriors were determined to add to their lead with the ball on the Vikings seven-yard line as play began to open the fourth quarter.
In the turning point of the game and the season thus far, Antonio Tucker intercepted a pass on fourth and goal and returned it 99 yards for a touchdown. The Vikings took a 24-20 lead and never looked back as the defense stepped up and shut down the Warriors on their next possession, forcing them to punt after three downs.
The Vikings put the nail in the coffin with an impressive drive on their next possession, highlighted by three straight rushes for significant gains by Beardt and an important first down by Warren. Kelley put the finishing touches on the scoring drive with a 17-yard touchdown run. Beardt ran for the 2-point conversion and the Vikings were on top for good, 32-20.
Senior Green will have its hands full with undefeated North Oxnard Black (11-0) who hasn’t lost a game since the 2009 Super Bowl when they were in the Bantam division.
“They are a well-coached team,” Vikings Coach Joe Manasewitsch said. “However, I feel that we match up well against them and we should be able to shut down their passing attack.”