In recent years, the Santa Clara Lions’ oldest club, aptly named the Lions, has gotten the lion’s share of attention. The 13 to 15-year-old Lions team has gone all the way to the Pop Warner Super Bowl in Orlando, Florida multiple times over the past few seasons.
This season however, the Lions’ younger teams, the Wildcats and the Mitey Cats have had the most impressive seasons. The Wildcats, made up of mostly 12 and 13 year olds, won every single game this regular season. Meanwhile, the Mitey Cats, which are seven to nine-year-old players, also went undefeated. They won every game on their schedule except for one.
“Undefeated, yes, but we did have one tie on our record, which we weren’t happy about,” chuckled Mitey Cats Head Coach Steve Vinciale. “Last year we had a really rough season. The last two seasons where I have been head coach, we didn’t have the most successful seasons. I think we went 2-6 and 1-7. This year, though, it was just a really good team, everything fell into place. From day one we knew we had a special group of kids.”
After multiple postseason tournaments, the Mitey Cats finished up their 2018 season 9-1-1. Their only loss coming against Santa Cruz in the semifinal playoff game. Santa Cruz would go on to win the Division I championship for the Mitey Mite age division.
“I’m going to remember our undefeated season,” exclaimed Mitey Cats defensive tackle Brandon Daniels. “In Reno I hit this dude really hard.”
The Wildcats, who won every single game this season, are led by Head Coach Kean Loughren. They will play one more game down in San Diego against an undefeated Southern California team.
“We have one more game against Torrey Pines — they are a division champion. It’s going to be fun. Looking forward to it,” chimed the Wildcats’ skipper. “Everything we have asked them to do they’ve done. They’ve gone above and beyond. It’s been a fun ride, a fun season.”
Coach Vinciale’s son Mateo, plays for the Wildcats and talked about what coach Loughren’s means to him and the team.
“At first, all of us thought he was scary because other guys tried to make him sound like scary and mean,” joked Mateo Vinciale. “But once you get to know him, he’s nice and funny. He demonstrates perfectly how he wants things done and then we get it done the same way. If we don’t, he will get on us in a good way and make us do it right so we can perform well in the games.”
Both the Wildcats and Mitey Cats will finish up with one more game, down in Southern California before the season comes to an end for the entire Lions program.