The 2013 season proved to be a measuring stick for the Burbank Vikings Youth Tackle Football program.
In the Pacific Youth Football League Junior Super Bowl, the Burbank Green defeated Camarillo, 14-8, to claim its second straight championship, something no other team has been able to accomplish in the 44-year history of the organization.
Joining in on the championship success was the Midget Green, which trounced Oxnard, 54-6, to claim the Super Bowl. It was the first time two Vikings teams brought home championships in the same season.
On the high school level, Burbank High had a successful season, advancing to the CIF Southern Section Southeast Division semifinals for the first time since 1927. A number of Bulldogs players cut their football teeth in the Vikings program.
"That is really the goal of our organization; to be a feeder program for our local high schools," Burbank Vikings President Charlene Tabet said. "We want them to be prepared for when they do advance to high school and beyond.
"I just love to go to the local high school football games and hear the names of our Vikings kids who have come through our program. And it's really neat to have those kids come back after high school and they're playing somewhere else in college, and they say it was their experience in the Vikings that got me to the point where I'm at."
The Vikings teams have already begun practicing for the 2014 season. The program is down a little in numbers this year and will field eight teams compared to 11 that took the field in 2014.
"Yes, we are down a little in numbers, but I think we're bigger and better than last season," Tabet said. "We will have a team in every division. Although we have less teams, we have a lot of returners and we have some outstanding coaches. In fact, with the exception of our Gremlin team, which is our youngest set, and our Junior team, every one of our coaches is back, and that's nice."
The organization is open to boys and girls ages 7-14, who play on teams determined by an age/weight formula.
The Viking teams will play eight to 10 regular season games in the PYFL, which includes squads from San Fernando Valley, Ventura County, Simi Valley and Santa Clarita Valley.
PYFL games are largely played according to high school rules. However, in keeping with the youth sports philosophy of providing a fun and valuable experience for all, every player is guaranteed at least 12 downs of playing time per game.
There is also a no-piling-on rule and a 25-point rule, meaning that any time a team develops a 25-point advantage, it must remove its dominant players from the game.
It is, in fact, the PYFL's objective to "keep the welfare of the player first, foremost and entirely free of the adult lust for glory."
"The PYFL is really great because the teams are not just made up according to age brackets, but it is also determined by weight," Tabet said. "So you don't have a 100-pound kid going against a 190-pound kid. That makes it a lot more fun and comparative for the kids.
"And it's nice that every player gets at least the 12 downs a game. That helps a kid if he wants to get more playing time to want to better himself to earn that playing time. With the PYFL, everybody plays, but you can play more if you work hard, which I think is great for the development of future athletes. That's what our local high schools are looking for."
Along with the regular season, Vikings teams are also playing for spots in the playoffs and eventually Super Bowl berths. There is also a homecoming ceremony.
Home games will be played Saturdays at Burbank High. Opening-season games will take place Aug. 30 and the program's homecoming will be Oct. 4, as the Vikings will celebrate their 45th year as an organization.
For more than four decades, the Vikings have been the premier tackle football program in the city. Along with serving as a feeder program for the Burbank-area high schools — Burroughs, Burbank and Bellarmine-Jefferson — the organization has also helped develop players who have gone on to enjoy success at the college level, as well as the NFL.
Along with the football aspect of the Vikings, the organization also has an award-winning cheer program. Admission for all the Vikings home games at Burbank High is free.
Follow Jeff Tully on Twitter: @jefftsports.