VALHALLA, N.Y. -- The Valhalla Jr. Vikings put an exclamation point on the 2011 season last week, playing their Turkey Bowl Game on Thanksgiving morning and holding the annual year-end banquet on Sunday at the Manor House in Dobbs Ferry.
The dinner officially marks the end of a season that began in the dog days of August and ran right into the chill winds of late November, Vikings spokesperson Bill McGuinn said. Not to mention practices in a Halloween snowstorm.
As has become a tradition in Valhalla, nearly 50 youth football players arrived at Viking Stadium early on Thanksgiving morning to participate in an inter-squad football game, followed by punt, pass and kick contests.
The day is interspersed with plenty of laughter, fun, and holiday spirit, McGuinn said. The boys play football while the coaches tell exaggerated tales of their own glory days, which become more glorious and more exaggerated with each passing year.
The Turkey Bowl game includes boys from the programs first and second grade flag team, the third and fourth grade tackle team, and the fifth and sixth grade tackle team, with an equal number from each being assigned to both squads.
In the beginning there was some hesitancy about having all the age groups playing together but the unexpected result was how much the older Vikings helped, guided and included the younger Vikings in all aspects of the game, McGuinn said. The game is a culmination of the family philosophy that runs throughout the year in everything the Jr. Vikings do.
The Jr. Vikings practice at the same field at the same time every day. The club holds a family picnic in August and the club works to schedule its home games so that all teams play home on the same day, one after the other, and root for each other. Every Friday night during the season the Vikings enjoy Friday Night Lights at Applebees, where manager Kim Cafaro hosts dinner for the all the players and their families and shows the game film of the prior weeks Jr. Viking football game.
The Jr. Vikings also participate in the Valhalla High School Homecoming as well as offer support for the varsity players.
The Vikings line up on the field as a gauntlet for the varsity players to run through during introductions at home games, McGuinn said. They also raised money for the St. Baldrics Day fund raiser for childrens cancer by all shaving their heads. Everything they do is as a program, not individual teams.
The Vikings banquet drew more than 250 people to celebrate this years honoree, club President Fred Feit, who is one of the founding fathers of the program and a coach. Feit is retiring after five years.
When Fred started the program he had one team of about 15 players, McGuinn said. He has personally grown the program to where it now has three football teams and two cheerleading squads, comprised of over 100 young people. The dinner culminated with center Mikey Sullivan snapping the Jr. Vikings Man of the Year Award to quarterback Brody McGuinn, who handed it off to tailback Mikey Ferrara, who ran the length of the banquet hall to deliver it to a surprised and overwhelmed Coach Feit.
F rom a report by Bill McGuinn/Valhalla Jr. Vikings
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