By Bob Williams of the M-A Vikings
The Menlo Atherton Vikings, the local Pop Warner football organization, hosted the first round of the Peninsula Pop Warner (Division 1) playoffs at Menlo-Atherton High School on Saturday, Nov. 3.
Entering the semi-final round of the Peninsula Pop Warner Championships this upcoming weekend, the Vikings will have two teams still is the chase.
On Saturday, the M-A Vikings Peewee's (6-3) faced off against the Santa Clara Lions (6-2-1) in a heated battle between two teams that played each other in week 4 of the regular season. In the previous game, the Lions won 39-14 in true blow-out fashion.
The divisional playoff game, however, saw a different Vikings team. The Lions came out confident and strong on offense. Taking the ball right down the field and scoring on the first possession of the game. The Vikings needed just four plays on their first possession to answer the Lions first drive. Vikings Quarter back Andres Atkins hit his favorite target, tight-end Spencer Corona, for a 75-yard play that took the ball down to the one yard line, where bruising tail-back William Beasley powered in for the score.
The game was tied 6-6 after both teams missed their point-after attempts. The Lions took the ball and drove down the field to score on their second attempt as well. When the Vikings got the ball back they responded behind tough offensive-line blocking led by starting center Ola Fifita and right guard Mathew Azzopardi. Tailback William Beasley scored on another short-yardage run, and after Spencer Corona connected on the point-after attempt the Vikings lead was 14-12.
The end of the first half saw the Vikings stingy defense tighten its ranks! With an outstanding effort by Defensive Tackle Isaiah Norton who made the tackle on the final play of the half inside the 5 yard line, the Vikings held the Lions to no-gain on fourth down on a goal line stance.
In the second half the Vikings came to life with an outstanding play by free safety Andres Atkins. After recovering the onside kick, the Lions had the ball on third and 12 at the 50- yard line. The Lions quarterback dropped back to pass to the tightend, who was in the middle of the field. Atkins intercepted the pass and was sprung free by a crushing block by nose guard Davon Williams. Atkins cut back and with nothing but the green of "Menlo Atherton High School's Coach Park's Field" in front of him returned it 60 yards for a touchdown.
In the fourth quarter after recovering a fumble, the Vikings pounded the ball between the tackles eating up the clock. William Beasley ran a counter and was off to the races for a 50-yard gain to the 4-yard line. On the next play Atkins took it in on a quarterback sneak.
Spencer Corona was 3-4 on two-point point-after kick attempts, and the Vikings captured the win with a final score of 30-18.
"I hope more kids come out to play with us next year," said M-A Vikings Peewee Head Coach Harold Atkins. "These boys work hard and have a lot of fun in the process. Every kid should have an opportunity to feel like our kids feel right now. They feel real good about themselves and what they accomplished today."
The semi-final round is Sunday, Nov. 11, with two Viking teams still in the hunt for the Peninsula Conference Championship. The Viking Pee Wee team, with their victory over Santa Clara, face off against Oakland's East Bay Warriors, at Santa Clara's Townsend field on Sunday, Nov 11, at 10 a.m.
The Viking Junior Midget team, coming off a well deserved bye week with their perfect 9-0 record, face the Almaden Mustangs in the semi-final round. They met at Branham High School in San Jose at noon on Sunday, Nov. 11. Almaden beat the Cambrian Valley Longhorns at M-A High School on Nov. 4, to earn a rematch against the Vikings. The Vikings beat the Mustangs 34-12 to close the regular season.
Winners of this semi-final round will compete for the Peninsula Championship on Sunday, Nov 18, and automatic berth as the Pop Warner Pacific Northwest Conference Champions, earning the opportunity to compete in the Pop Warner Super Bowl at ESPN's Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Florida, starting Dec 1.
Admission for both games is $10.