The Vikings of Downey High School have won their first CIF football championship since 1957, after defeating the La Serna High School Lancers, 33-25 on Saturday night. The Vikings end their season on a high note with an overall record of 11-3 and a six-game winning streak.
Both teams entered the CIF Southern Section championship game already familiar with one another. The Vikings were handed their first of three losses during the 2012 season to La Serna by a score of 28-27 on August 31 at Allen Layne Stadium.
With the first game being a one point difference, the rematch between the Vikings and the Lancers with the CIF title on the line was anyone's game to win.
The Lancers went into halftime Saturday leading 13-7. The Vikings' only score of the first half was a pass from Vikings sophomore quarterback Jorge Reyna to wide receiver Jacob Cook.
Reyna completed 13 of his 25 passes for 235 yards and two touchdowns. Reyna also ran into the end zone for a touchdown.
"It feels great to bring a CIF title back to Downey after 55 years," Reyna said. "I am very thankful and glad to be on this Downey Viking squad."
While the game remained close between the two teams, sophomore running back Justin Huff had 163 rushing yards and a two touchdown runs in the fourth quarter to keep momentum on the Vikings' side.
On the defensive side of the ball, Vikings linebacker Joey Romero had made it quiet a memorable 18th birthday for himself by having a stand out game in his first start of the 2012 season.
Romero finished the game with two sacks on Lancers' quarterback Frankie Palmer, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
The game was sealed after Palmer fumbled the football on the Vikings' 11-yard line in the final minute of the fourth quarter.
While Jack Williams led the Vikings to a championship in only in his third season as the head coach at Downey, the victory has to mean a lot to him; having been a former player at Downey during his high school years and more recently a member of the coaching staff under former head coaches Grant Warhurst and Will Capps.
During those years as a member of the coaching staff, Williams has seen a number of athletes come and go through the Downey High football program.
After the win, many of those former players reflected on their time as a Viking and what a title coming back home to Downey High means to them.
George Gabriel was an offensive lineman for the Vikings, from 2007-2009 and was the first of many to congratulate his alma mater on their victory.
"It obviously means a lot," Gabriel said. "Downey High School has a tremendous amount of tradition and winning the CIF championship after so long is a reminder of that tradition."
Gabriel also spoke highly of his former coach and the impact he has had on the Downey football program.
"Coach Williams has brought energy, excitement, and a winning mentality to the program now and I believe it will continue to do so in the future," Gabriel added. "In just 3 years, he has led Downey to remarkable heights and I'm proud to be one of the many former Downey football players he has coached."
Another former player is Darren Tubbs, who was a running back for the Vikings from 2005 to 2007, said the win over La Serna made him feel good to be a Viking.
"I always knew Coach Williams had it in him to coach at this level and be successful at this level," Tubbs said.
During the seasons in which Tubbs was a member of the Vikings, Williams was a running back coach.
"He used to be my position coach and I could tell then how hard he would work with us and it translated over to him being a head coach," Tubbs added. "I could not be more proud of Coach Williams and nobody deserves this more than he does."