Vanden Vikings play for history and for the player, coaches they lost along the way

Final Quarter

FAIRFIELD, Calif. (KTXL) — Vanden High School head coach Sean Murphy’s football career will come full circle this weekend.

“You think about it, you’re not sure it’s ever really going to happen,” Murphy told FOX40.

Murphy was a player the last time the Vanden Vikings high won it all. Saturday, he’ll take the field as the head coach looking for the same results.

“It’s such a long journey, and such a long journey through our section and through Northern California. So just excited to have these young men and see them take a similar journey I took when I was playing,” Murphy said.

To be clear, there were no state championship games during Murphy’s playing days. That 1995 team was Vanden’s last section champion until this year, and this Vikings team took it one step further, punching their ticket to the 2021 Division 3-AA title game.

“It’s nerve-wrecking,” said Vanden wide receiver Michael Belk. “I feel like we’ve never been here before and we got to do what we came here to do and finish the job, and it’s a lot coming because the 95’ team, they finished the job, so we got to too.”

“It means a lot, but we’re taking a lot of inspiration from teams past just looking back on the 95’ team. We’re just looking back on everyone trying to get better,” said Vanden defensive lineman Blake Waldorp.

While making history at Vanden High School is great motivation for Saturday, the Vikings are fueled by a much bigger purpose. They’ve dedicated the season to their fallen teammate Daniel Hughes and two coaches, Michael Belk and Dan Garner, all of who passed away within the last 18 months.

“It would mean a lot, especially being senior year but it would be amazing to do this for them,” said Vanden linebacker Erick Diez.

“It’s just real important because he’s the one that brought me into football and I mean, I started playing when I was 5 years old and it means a lot to me that we finish the job for him and the other coaches as well as Daniel,” Belk said speaking about his father and his teammate.

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