Lincoln Tigers Host Fourth-Annual Kenny Washington Memorial Game

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by LA1 NEWS:

When it comes to Lincoln High School (LHS) and the entire Lincoln Heights community, well-organized events have always been the name of the game. From the historic Honorary Mayor competition to cultural events at Plaza de la Raza, right on down to the dances inside the LHS gym, generations of LA residents have enjoyed positive memories of Lincoln Heights. It is like a multi-layered blanket of a community, still there after all these years to warm the people calling it home. 

Friday night's 'Kenny Washington Memorial Game' at Lincoln High School was traditional American high school football in an authentic family atmosphere. The annual matchup pits Lincoln versus Marshall High School in a replay of the historic 1935 City championship battle, during which time LHS senior #13 Kenny Washington gained all but six of the total yards earned by Lincoln during the game to secure the school's only undisputed City championship. Washington went on to become a groundbreaking two-sport player of color at UCLA who was eventually drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in 1946, ending a longtime ban on black players in the NFL.

Kenny Washington grew up on S. Avenue 19 and was raised by his aunt and uncle. He was once awarded a trophy by the Helms Athletic Foundation during a 1949 Los Angeles Rams halftime event, to recognize his high school football accomplishments at Lincoln. Washington gave the trophy to LHS to keep, and the Kenny Washington Award has been given to the best LHS varsity football player each year since.

The game bearing his name was conceived in 2011 after organization of the Kenny Washington Stadium Foundation. The group is made up of mostly Lincoln Football alums and family, and has an ongoing goal to raise enough funds to build the proposed state-of-the-art Kenny Washington Football Stadium at Andrus Field, and other athletic improvements at Lincoln. Several distinguished members of the Tiger Football squad have been located, contacted and transported in support the annual event. Tony Kochinas was present on Friday alongside his wife and brother. Tony Rosas, a veteran of the 1962 battle City title game against Manual Arts which resulted in a 0-0 tie, showed up last year. Sadly, Rosas died in May of this year at his home in Highland Park. 

Lincoln was ahead 14-0 during Friday's game, just as a Tiger ran into the red zone for another Lincoln touchdown. The team took 21-0 lead at halftime. Foundation board member David Duran, a National Guardsman and community pillar, thanked us for coming. "We have a lot of plans for this field," he said. "A new stadium with artificial turf is planned. The scoreboard will be replaced with a modern video screen." While the changes may sound a bit much for a former student particularly fond of the old scoreboard above the boys gym, the football crowd up on the cold hilltop has been out of sight and mind for many years. A new stadium seems more mandatory than warranted. 

During the halftime show, support was given to the military veterans in the crowd. A 98-year-old Japanese-American LHS alumnus named Jack was brought up in his wheelchair. Jack served the United States military in WWII working in military intelligence. He is the oldest-living Lincoln Tiger. CD1 Councilmember Gil Cedillo was there to present Jack with a brand-new LHS letterman sweater, to the delight of his family and the entire crowd. Proclamations were given to various volunteers from the offices of the Mayor of Los Angeles and Council District 1. High-quality engraved awards, so nice they drew a gasp from the audience, were also part of the halftime plan.

The Tigers went on to score another 21 points in the second half on Friday to trounce the Barristers 42-0.

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