South Tahoe Junior Pee Wee Vikings won the Pacific North West title with a 34-26 victory over the San Jose Saints on Saturday.
On the Vikings opening drive, the Saints striped the ball inside their own 20 and returned it for a touchdown. They then recovered an onside kick.
It was a tough way to open the game, and the boys huddled to regain their composure.
"I told them look how easy we were moving the ball, just relax, play solid defense and we will score as soon as we get the ball back," head coach Sean Griffis said in email.
The D held tough. On the next offensive series, the Vikings scored and made the point after touchdown to go ahead 7-6.
The Vikings never trailed again.
"The Saints were able to keep the game close for most of the game, but whenever we needed a big play they came through," Griffis said.
Tyler Wattanachina and Henry Vacakis led the rushing attack behind great blocking from the offensive line (Logan Field, Troy Gerrard, Drake Lathrope, Giovanni Fena, Colby Glaze, Trent Dingman, and Gunnar Barnwell). The Defense was led by linebackers Kody Griffis and James Knudson, each had over a dozen tackles and Griffis had two forced fumbles. The D line (Zack Johns, Evan Dion, Russell Degischer, Tanner Pierce, Colby Lyle, and Kyle Stoker) were in the offensive backfield disrupting the Saints' offense all game. When the Saints tried to pass, defensive backs Zack Pexa, Connor Brown, and Drake Lathrope knocked down every ball that made it in the air.
"This was again a real team effort. We have worked hard all year, and I would like to thank all of my coaching staff and parents for making this season one of the most successful we have ever had," Griffis said.
With the win, the Vikings advance to the Best of the West Championship game Dec. 1 in Santa Clara.