Junior Midget, Peewee football teams prepare for regional finals
With 1,223 yards rushing for the year and 17 total touchdowns, it’s hard not to focus exclusively on Danny Suarez on South Tahoe’s Pop Warner Junior Midget football team. His name comes up more than any other when it comes to the score.
But he’s not the only threat on the Junior Midget Vikings, who are now 10-0 and headed for their first Pacific Northwest Division III regional championship.
Running back Roger Brown has 250 yards rushing for two touchdowns and Colin Cason has 235 yards for one touchdown.
The strong offensive line of tackles Ryan Jaurequi and Josh Tuttle, guards Morgan Villescas and Nick Forrer and center Jake Baker make the offense hum.
They’ve allowed quarterback Ryan Woods to complete 25 of 42 passes for 584 yards and 13 touchdowns. He’s also run the ball courtesy of some key blocks for two touchdowns.
Run, run, run — you’d think that with the rushing numbers they’ve racked up the only way the Vikings can score is on the ground.
However, key to their success is a passing game, which helps diversify the offense.
Wide receiver and tight end Brian Burnam has caught 10 passes in eight games for 283 yards and six touchdowns. He’s even with Suarez in receptions but has amassed more yards and three more touchdown receptions.
Anthony Stagnaro has also caught two touchdown passes. He’s amassed 80 receiving yards on four receptions.
The Vikings back up a strong offense with an equally impressive defense. They’ve outscored their opponents 241-97.
Coach Russ Woods said Suarez, Brown, Lee Williams and Joey Krueger have been strong linebackers.
Defensive ends Anthony DeMetri and Shayne Rowe have also had strong seasons.
But if you asked coach Woods, he’d tell you all of the defensive players have had an impressive year, which is why the team is undefeated heading into the regional championship.
Jaurequi said his line has improved this year in tackling, playing hard and staying low, which is important because “you don’t get knocked over and you don’t get hurt,” he said.
The Vikings will play Nov. 23 for the title against the Medford, Ore., Indians at 2 p.m. Peterson Junior High School in Sunnyvale, Calif. Coach Woods said he knows very little about Indians, not having the opportunity to scout, which is something he’s done against many of the Vikings’ opponents this year. The mystery will easily present the Vikings’ biggest challenge.
About half of the team is used to playing for the regional championship, since they are first-year junior midgets, coming off a peewee regional title in 2001.
They haven’t shied away from the older, heavier weight division. They’ve amassed more confidence, said Ryan Woods, which is why they’re throwing the ball.
Total Points : SLT 241 OPP 97 Record 10-0
Rushing Leaders Carries Yards TDs
Danny Suarez 89 1223 14
Roger Brown 33 250 2
Colin Cason 36 235 1
Blaine Inglis 14 83 1
Robert Varik 22 111 –
Receiving Leaders Receptions Yards TDs
Brian Burnam 10 283 6
Danny Suarez 10 135 3
Robert Varik 6 82 1
Anthony Stagnaro 4 80 2
The Junior Vikings Peewees stand to break from Division III to Division II if they win the Pacific Northwest regional title for the second time in a row as Peewees and the third time in a row counting Junior Peewees.
If the Vikings win back-to-back regional titles in the same age/weight group, the whole South Tahoe Pop Warner program moves to Division II, and will play larger programs in Reno Carson and Sparks. Division II also is large enough to go nationwide with a final national championship in Orlando, Fla.
And if ever there was a Viking team to do it, this is it.
The Peewee Vikings racked up more than 2,500 yards on offense this year, allowing only 259 yards against.
They’ve outscored their opponents 282 to 40 in wrapping up another undefeated league season.
“We’ve got one last door to kick in this weekend and we bring home a three-peat,” said head coach Steve Klug Jr.
Klug said the team has had continued success with the “phenomenal” coaching success of Steve Klug Sr., Mark Shehadi, Cooley Jackson and Matt Kezer.
The team has also piled up impressive individual stats, Klug said, but he preferred to highlight the success of the team, not just a few individuals.
The Peewee Vikings battle the Ashland, Ore., Bears Saturday at 10 a.m. at Peterson Junior High School in Sunnyvale, Calif.
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