Lash's Place- Downey High News!

The Downey Patriot
November 3rd 2006

A finish like this has never been sweeter...
Former teammates recall historic game 50 years ago that ended–fitingly, to some–in a 13-13 tie

Downey's 50th CIF Anniversary
By Scott Cobos

On a foggy night in '56, two teams walked on to the Los Angeles Coliseum field to participate in a game that was included in the Los Angeles Sports Council's published list of the cityıs 100 greatest sports moments.

In front of a crowd of 41,383, two teams with star running backs would battle it out for the CIF Southern Section title. CIF officials underestimated how many people would attend the game that they only opened two ticket offices. Soon enough, the line got so long that people were forcing themselves past the gates, dropping money off in a box for admission.

On Dec. 14 the Downey High Vikings and the Anaheim High Colonists would play in a game for the CIF championship, a game that drew the biggest recorded attendance for a prep game in California.

"It created such a hysteria," said Jack Trumbo, Downey's quarterback at the time in an article 10 years ago in the Press Telegram. "It was pretty amazing to see so many people there and wondering what it was all about. I've often wondered, why then? And why not before and not since?"

Both teams, very similar in style of play and build, would play this game in to a 13-13 tie, sharing the championship.

Even though the game itself was rather anti-climatic, it was a fitting end to such a great battle of two evenly-matched teams.

"I was real happy with the result," said Downeyıs former center and team barber, who now owns a hair salon in San Mateo. "I would have hated being on the losing end of that game. Both teams were so evenly matched."

Almost 50 years removed from the big game, it is still remembered and celebrated in the city and school. Walking on the campus of Downey High School, you see signs posted on the walls of the campus building commemorating the 50th anniversary of that foggy night. The game was not just a championship game. It was a part of something that the whole team would carry through their lives.

"I remember the practices and the drills we had to do at the end," Stevenson said. "The 50 finger-tip pushup, the 50 sit-ups, the wind sprints. I especially remember climbing that rope in full pads and saying the name of the team we played that week when we got to the top."

The focus, the concentration, the commitment and hard work are all life lessons that were taken from the experience of '56.

Downey's best football team ever will be acknowledged tonight at the football game at Allen Layne Stadium. Thirty members of the team of '56 are expected to attend tonight's game, having a section of the stands blocked off for them.

They will be honored during halftime for the great accomplishment achieved during their tenure at Downey High. That CIF championship game was nothing short of a classic.

Both teams boasted two star running backs. Downey had running back Randy Meadows, who had set the state scoring record that season with 30 touchdowns. On the other side of the field stood reigning player of the year, Colonist running back Mickey Flynn. Both players were very similar in size and skill. Flynn and Meadows were both small, shifty, and speedy, also both averaging 16 yards per carry on the season.

The two players carried their respective offenses on the season. Meadows helped Downey score 428 points in their previous 12 games.

Downey and Anaheim's defenses were also very similar. Downey allowed 112 points on the season, while the Colonists allowed 101. With these statistics, this game appeared to be a very promising one.

Late in the first quarter, Flynn broke out of the backfield and rushed for a 52-yard touchdown. Only minutes later in the quarter, Meadows topped his counterpart racing down the field for a 69-yard Downey touchdown.

At the half, the score was 7-6 Anaheim. Both teams would trade blows back and forth but neither team was able to consistently find the end zone.

In Downey's final score, former head coach Dick Hill elected to run the ball in to tie the score at 13, rather than kick a field goal. Back then, a PAT was worth only 1 point, regardless of how you scored.

The rationale according to Stevenson was that Hill said they were either going to tie it up as a team or lose it as a team. Downey halfback Ron Russell was given the ball and ran it in to the end zone tying up the game. Because of a rule change earlier in the week, the score remained a tie. The change of rule was that in the event of a tie, no longer would the team with the most first downs in the game win.

To some, the tie was a disappointment. To others, it was the perfect ending. Regardless, that game to this day is one of the best remembered California high school football contests ever played.