The Santa Monica High School Vikings will enter the 2004 football season a little more experienced than last year, and coach Michael Burnett believes that experience will help his team earn some victories.

Santa Monica, which joined the Ocean League this year, finished winless last season with a 0-9-1 record.

The Vikings” only non-losing game during the year was a tie with West Torrance, the team with which they shared last place in the league.

Burnett, who took over as coach last year, said that last season only two players had varsity experience. This year there should be a big difference because 20 players are experienced.

ìThe big thing this year is to have the kids back from last year who learned a lot,î he said.

ìThese kids have worked extraordinarily hard and they have one year of experience under their belt.î

Some returning athletes who will help contribute some experience to the team include senior quarterback Kevin Poindexter, senior defensive end/offensive tackle Devin Packard and senior center Khary Robinson.

Other top returning players include senior linebacker Alfredo Diaz and senior free safety Jesse Jackson.

ìI think we can compete for the playoffs,î Burnett said. ìIt”s a big jump, but we”re excited.î

Although the team is composed of some good scholar athletes who have strong character, the Vikings need to work on learning how to win, he said.

Santa Monica will open its new season at West Torrance High School at 7 p.m. Friday, September 10th.

A big target on the schedule for the Vikings is an Ocean League game at Morningside High School at 7 p.m. Friday, October 22nd, he said.

Another challenging league game this year will be at home against Inglewood High School at 7 p.m. Friday, October 15th.

While it may be tough for the Vikings to come from a losing season and try to make an impact in the league, the players need to believe in each other, he said.

ìWe need to be disciplined,î he said. ìIf we”re technically sound we can do great things.î