Vikings win Super Bowl and gain valuable life lessons along the way

Vikings win Super Bowl and gain valuable life lessons along the way

ROCK SPRINGS – Going undefeated and winning the championship in any sport or league is special. For one local group of players, this season will be a memorable one.

For many local players, parents and fans, the fourth through sixth-grade football season is one season they look forward to. For the Vikings, this season was a long and successful battle. The team of Tommy Faigl, Isaac Sain, Tim Henry, Elijah Gines, Parker Clawson, Collin Madsen, Destry Stevenson, Skyler Beltran, Jesse Smith, Tanner Matcalf, Aiden Barker, Hayden Romero, Sage Romero, Joran Cochran, Awston Holden, Garrett Fletcher, Zach Burdette and Dylan Coburn, not only finished 10-0 but they overcame all the odds to finish the season with a Super Bowl win.

Despite a perfect season, the Vikings entered the Super Bowl as the underdog. The game remained close through most of the first half until the two-minute mark when the Ravens scored to take the lead at half.

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Being the underdogs and facing an uphill climb was nothing new to this team. It also didn’t take a big halftime speech for these players to get fired up. A simple “I have no doubt you’re going to win this game” from the coaching staff was all it took.

The Ravens opened the second half with the ball but the Vikings quickly forced a turnover. From there the offense punched it in. With the missed extra point, the Ravens still held a one-point lead 6-7. Even trailing, Head Coach Robert Friel said that turnover and score was a big turning point of the game.

Knowing this was the last game, both teams went nose to nose for the rest of the third quarter and for most of the fourth. The tired gladiators were fueled on by cheering parents and former players. As one parent Stevi Madsen explained, there were former Vikings who came to the game to cheer for the team. “Once a Viking, always a Viking,” Madsen explained.

Although tired and facing a tough Ravens squad, the Vikings were finally able to break through as they scored to take a 13-7 lead with 1:38 left. All the work to get ahead was almost for naught as the Ravens took the ensuing kickoff and looked like they were going to break it. A great hustle by Isaac Sain saved the game as he was able to catch the Raven runner.

The defense held strong for the final minute and the Vikings raised the trophy.

“They had tons of heart and determination,” Friel said.

It’s often said in sports you can tell a lot about a team by the actions of their head coach. It is easy to see where the team gets its humbleness. Friel never took credit for the growth but gave it all to his assistant coaches. The same way the older players gave credit to the entire team for the win.

Friel added he also had a great group of parents who were very supportive and took care of a lot of the things off the field which allowed the coaching staff to concentrate on the players. When you say entire team effort, Friel said that includes everyone from the parents to the players to the coaches.

For this team, it was not always trophies and wins. When the older players came into the league in fourth grade it was a different story. Two players, Destry Stevenson and Collin Madsen recalled the path they took to get to where they are now.

Both started playing football because of the competition and the fun time they had playing the game. Destry said one of his favorite moments was scoring six touchdowns in one game while for Madsen, his favorite memory was one game, playing the Redskins.

There was nothing special about the game, just another contest. But for Madsen, what made it fun was the awesome sportsmanship the Redskins had. Collin explained when they started, it was the Vikings who were not very good and they saw first hand what poor sportsmanship looked and felt like.

Collin explained since they have been on the other side and knew how bad poor sportsmanship felt, they always tried to be the best sports they could be to every team and to each teammate they shared the field with.

Friel said at the beginning of the season they explained the rules and what is expected of the players. He explained while they do not tolerate poor sportsmanship on the Vikings, they don’t preach good sportsmanship either. Coach said the players know how good sportsmanship feels and they do not have to be told to use it.

The growth of the older players could be seen over the three years they played. In fourth grade they were not very good and lost many of their games. In the second season, they made it to the playoffs but were beat in the first round. Which brings us to the Super Bowl win in their third season.

“When they started they were extremely timid and didn’t know what to expect,” Coach Friel said. “They have improved to be the best players in the league.”

For second year player Tommy Faigl, he has learned a lot from the older players. Faigl said he started playing football because it was fun to play. As he has watched the older kids, Tommy said they have taught him to always play his hardest and have confidence and heart.

While the older players like Destry and Collin will move on to Junior High, the youngers players, like Tommy, will look forward to next season.

Both Destry and Collin said they are ready to move on to junior high football. Coach Friel explained the junior high has been trying to be more involved with the little league football. Even with that, Friel said the entire coaching staff has given these players the skills to compete at the junior high level.

“The junior high will be a whole new coaching staff for these kids,” Friel said. “They have got what they need to go on to that next level.”

Destry and Collin were both named to the all-star team and will line up with several players they played against. The lessons they have learned from the three years with the Vikings will also follow them as they move forward. For Destry, he learned if you compete hard you can earn a spot. Collin said he has learned if you try your hardest in everything you do, you will be successful.