Tag Archives: Randy Simmrin

Burbank Vikings Celebrate 50th Anniversary At Memorial Field

By Rick Assad

If you live in Burbank and want to play youth tackle football, you very likely played for the Burbank Vikings.

On Friday evening at Memorial Field when Burbank High faced its longtime city rival Burroughs for the 71st time, several former Vikings players and coaches gathered for the 50th anniversary of the program.

During the half-century, the Vikings have taught the importance of discipline, hard work and practice and also some life lessons.

(Photo by Ross A Benson)

Many who were there played high school football for the Bulldogs or Indians, some at the college level and a few in the NFL like Randy Simmrin and Mike McDonald.

“When I started playing with the Burbank Vikings, I was just a little kid and I had no idea what talent I had. I just went out there to play and have fun and be with everybody else,” Simmrin said. “What happened with me and the Burbank Vikings was a transition period in my life. I learned that I had some talent and could play the game. I was brought in to play with a group of guys that were very dedicated and we had coaches like Steve Armstrong, Bob Bryant and some others that really were disciplinarians. It set the tone for me through high school.”

Simmrin, who starred at wide receiver for Burroughs and later USC where he played from 1974 through 1977 and caught 100 passes for 2,015 yards with 11 touchdowns, was asked about his feelings playing for the Vikings.

“I’m kind of an emotional person,” he said. “When I see these guys, I get a little bit emotional. I remember how we were and all the work we did together. I know that some of us aren’t here anymore and I get emotional.”

Simmrin, who was on the Trojans’ 1974 national champion team under the legendary Coach John McKay and now owns a small affordable housing development company in Carlsbad, said his best times were playing youth football in Burbank.

“I played a lot of football through the years,” said Simmrin, who grabbed 72 passes for 1,330 yards and 17 touchdowns during 1972 and 1973 for the Indians. “I got to play a little professional football in the NFL and I played in Canada. The purest form of football is Pop Warner youth level. I can’t say that I enjoyed football any more on any level than that 1970 year with the Burbank Vikings. That’s probably the best year of football I’ve ever had. When I was at USC, we were national champions and I was really proud to be with that group of guys. But the Burbank Vikings, we were little kids. Way more special.”

Tom McDonald played for the Burbank Vikings beginning in 1971 and later for the Indians. “It meant a lot to me and it stills means a lot to me,” he said. “These men here [former coaches] taught us how to play football and taught us to be men.”

Pictured L/R Mike McDonald, Anthony De Felicis and Randy Simmrin during the Vikings 50th anniversary. (Photo by Ross A Benson)

McDonald, who worked for Farmer’s Insurance for 37 years and had his wife and three sons also part of the Vikings, added: “I coached 27 years with the Vikings,” he said. “I have been vice president and president. It’s everything. It’s turned our football teams, our two high school teams, Burbank and Burroughs, into powerhouses.”

McDonald went on: “The lessons you learn playing Pop Warner football are life-long lessons,” he said. “They teach you everything. How to work together as a team. How to overcome, adapt, improvise. It teaches you everything about life. The men that were teaching us were incredible people. The closest friends I have to this day are the ones I met playing Burbank Vikings.”

Mike McDonald, who played football at Burroughs, USC, and the Rams, also has fond memories of his time with the Vikings.

“Like all sports, the Vikings teaches you discipline and the discipline that you take with you from there, if you listen to your coaches and do what they tell you to do like working out and staying in shape, you have a chance to progress,” said McDonald, who played linebacker and long snapper. “They gave me the opportunity and taught me to play football. Not just football, but about life.”

Nolan Day, an architectural consultant in Chicago, was also a Burbank Viking and the memories are good.

(Photo by Ross A Benson)

“The ’69 and ’70 teams were the first two years of the Vikings,” he said. “Several of us ended up coming to Burroughs and several went to Burbank. In the next 10 years, we won more champions in those 10 years than the two high schools combined in the previous 30. It was because of getting that early coaching.”

Day, who played football for the Indians, said the early coaching was the key.

“I would say that we were very fortunate getting the coaching that we did,” he pointed out. “They knew us. They knew the talent and how to motivate us and that was the formula that ended up being what made us do well those first two years.”

Day, who toiled at Cal State Northridge and San Jose State and had a tryout with the Dallas Cowboys and also played professional rugby in Australia, went on: “One of the things the coaches emphasized, is that it was a game of camaraderie and brotherhood,” he said. “We were really tight. Some of us had good college careers. There wasn’t much better team chemistry.”

(Photo by Ross A Benson)

Steve Armstrong was a Burbank Vikings coach from 1969 to 1971.

“Besides being good football players, for the most part, they were pretty good kids and pretty good adults,” he said. “You hope you’re doing the right thing. I’m sure at that time they were well-coached as football players, and they would probably agree that they got more than football out of it.”

The girls are not left out as many were cheerleaders for the Burbank Vikings, including some who became cheerleaders in high school.

“A lot of the cheerleaders out here came through our program,” said Burbank school member Charlene Tabet, referring to Burbank and Burroughs. “We have a cheer team at six levels.”

Burroughs Adds Seven to Hall of Fame

Seven new members were inducted into the Burroughs High Sports Hall of Fame Friday evening in the Brian Hurst Gymnasium at the school.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The inductees were coach Greg Switzer, J.K. Scott, Debbie Gudzin, Emily Tubert, Kyle Cremarosa, Randy Simmrin and Ron Weckbacher.

Switzer graduated from Burroughs in 1968 and later returned to the school to be the cross country and track coach. He led the Burroughs boys’ cross country team to five league championships. In track, he led the boys’ team to five league titles and won two league titles as the girls’ track team coach. He later moved on to Hoover High in Glendale, where he enjoyed, even more, success, as he coached four All-Americans in cross country.

Scott graduated from Burroughs in 1997. The son of longtime Burroughs teacher Terry Scott, J.K. was a star athlete in three sports. Originally a basketball and baseball player, Scott began playing football as a junior and enjoyed immediate success. In two seasons, the quarterback passed for more than 4,800 yards and 42 touchdowns. Recruited by many schools, Scott went on to the University of Washington where he was a member of the 2001 Rose Bowl champion Husky team. He is now a teacher in Tennessee.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Gudzin became the Activities and Athletic Secretary in 2007 and served in that role until her retirement in 2017. She is credited with being a strong supporter of athletics and for helping with organizing the Hall of Fame event.

Tubert graduated from Burroughs in 2010 and was a four-year varsity golfer. A two-time Pacific League champion, she went on to win the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links title in 2010. In college at the University of Arkansas, she was a three-time All American. She is now a rookie on the LPGA tour. Last month she tied for 66th place in the New Zealand Open shooting five over par for the four-day event. A few weeks earlier she shot four under par in the Cambria Portland Classic in which she finished tied for 41st.

Cremarosa is a 1999 grad and a three-year varsity football player who also played basketball. As a sophomore, the wide receiver was one of Scott’s main passing targets. When he graduated, he held the school record in career scoring. He went on to Harvard University where he continued his career and was the team captain as a senior. At the end of his career, he was sixth on the school’s all-time reception list.

Simmrin graduated from Burroughs in 1973 and was best known for his success as a wide receiver in football. He also competed in basketball and track. He went to play at USC, where he won a national title and two Rose Bowls. He left USC as the leading receiver in school history with 100 receptions for 2,015 yards and 14 touchdowns. He went on to play in the NFL for the Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, before moving on to Canada, where he played with the Edmonton Eskimos.

Weckbacher graduated from Burroughs in 1978, where he was a star in football and track. He went on to compete in both sports at Glendale Community College, before moving on to the University of Minnesota, where he played wide receiver for two years and was named team MVP.