DOWNEY -- Filming for “A Last Hurrah,” a documentary about 1950’s high school football highlighted by the 1956 CIF Southern Section Title game between the Anaheim Colonists and the Downey Vikings, is underway.
According to co-producer Paul Molina, he first took interest in the subject matter, specifically the 1956 CIF title game, after playing football in high school.
“I was interested in this because I grew up in Anaheim, California. I didn’t go to Anaheim High School, but some of my friends, their parents did,” said Molina. “I played football for Katella, and some of my coaches went to Anaheim as well. Every now and then they were talking about this game from a long time ago from the 1950’s where there were 60,000 people at the Coliseum between Anaheim and Downey…
I didn’t really think much about it. Well, somebody brought it up again a couple of years ago…I Googled it, and the more I read about it the more fascinated I got.”
Molina says that the story of the game is not so much about two football teams, but about a different era.
“The more I investigated it, the more I realized that this is more than about just one game. This is about an era; an era I call the “golden age of high school football in Southern California.”
According to Molina, the “golden age” spans from around World War II to the 1960’s.
Molina explained that it was the lack of television and the separation between smaller-sized cities that caused this phenomenon.
“There were a lot of smaller towns,” said Molina. “The thing about these towns is they were really represented by only one high school. These towns were separated by orange groves…it was like the town versus the tow, not just the team versus the team…it’s kind of like the town associated itself with that high school because all of their kids went there, all their friends’ kids went there. It was kind of the thing to do.”
Molina has collected several interviews with players, historians and sports writers to paint an accurate picture of this era for the documentary. He hopes that his eventual viewers will take away the difference of the time.
“I’m not a nostalgist in the sense that I’m not necessarily hoping that viewers wax poetic about then, because even though there were somethings from that era that I think we can learn from, we can learn from the better, there were some things from that era that were wrong that we’ve moved on from,” said Molina. “One thing that I hope they take away is that it was different in the sense that community was, I think in a lot of ways, stronger.
We have a lot of media…we have more media than we’ve ever had, and sometimes community can still get lost within that…What would it take to get 60,000 people who just wanted to watch a bunch of high school kids play? I want people to realize that community can be built around that.”
Molina hopes to finish the project by summer of next year.