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Warren football to play Downey at SoFi Stadium in ‘once in a lifetime’ game

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DOWNEY — When Warren High senior Jordan Ross was 6 years old, he told himself he would play in the NFL.

“I feel like I’m getting closer to a dream, especially playing on an NFL field,” said Ross, a standout receiver on the school’s football team. “Just to have that experience, it touched me with excitement and it’s for sure going to have me lit for the game.”

Ross, a four-star recruit who is committed to Colorado State, is one of several high-profile players who will get a chance to showcase their talents when the Warren High and Downey High football teams square off in the first-ever high school football game at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood on Oct. 13 at 7 p.m.

Simply put, the Downey Showdown is going Hollywood.

Ross, 18, will have a message for his younger self when he steps onto the field at SoFi next month.

“You made it,” Ross said. “You lived your dream.”

SoFi Stadium, which opened in 2020, is the home of the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers. The selection of Warren and Downey to participate in The LA Bowl Friday Night Lights series was announced Wednesday.

“LA Bowl is committed to promoting the importance of education, health and wellness, and physical activity by hosting various events in the local community,” said SoFi Stadium and Hollywood Park vice president of programming and booking Adolfo Romero in a statement. “We’re excited to continue these efforts by welcoming the students, faculty, and families of Downey High School and Warren High School to SoFi Stadium for its first high school football game.”

Warren (3-2) is ranked No. 41 in the CIF Southern Section by CalPreps, and Downey (4-1) is ranked No. 44.

Last year, quarterback Nico Iamaleava led Warren to a 49-22 win at home against Downey. Warren coach Kevin Pearson said they had approximately 10,000 fans attend the annual rivalry game that night.

The Downey crowd cheers on their team as they take on Warren in Downey, CA, on Friday, October 14, 2022. (Photo by Tracey Roman, Contributing Photographer)
The Downey crowd cheers on their team as they take on Warren in Downey, CA, on Friday, October 14, 2022. (Photo by Tracey Roman, Contributing Photographer)

“I think because of the excitement, being able to play at a venue like SoFi, which is really a once-in-a-lifetime experience for a lot of people, I think that will mitigate the problems people have paying for it,” said Pearson. “I’m assuming that we’re going to get 10,000-plus (fans).”

Tickets will go on sale Thursday at 10 a.m. at Ticketmaster.com. Tickets will be $35 for general admission and $15 for student tickets. There will be a charge for parking.

Iamaleava’s brother, Madden, a junior, is now Warren’s starting quarterback.

“I was hyped. We were just excited,” Madden Iamaleava said, recalling his initial reaction to the SoFi Stadium news. “The first high school to play in SoFi Stadium, it’s huge for sure.”

Iamaleava said it will feel surreal to play on the same NFL field that hosted the Super Bowl on Feb. 13, 2022, and the College Football Playoff National Championship on Jan. 9.

Warren quarterback Madden Iamaleava look for an opening as the Bears take on American Samoas Tafuna High School in Downey, CA, on Friday, August 18, 2023. (Photo by Tracey Roman, Contributing Photographer)
Warren quarterback Madden Iamaleava look for an opening as the Bears take on American Samoas Tafuna High School in Downey, CA, on Friday, August 18, 2023. (Photo by Tracey Roman, Contributing Photographer)

“It hasn’t hit me yet… but I think it’s going to hit me on game day when we’re all playing out there,” said Iamaleava, who is also a four-star recruit with several offers from Division I college football programs.

Last season, Vikings were the Gateway League runner-up and won the CIF-SS Division 4 championship.

This season’s team is led by sophomore Oscar Rios, a promising dual-threat quarterback.

“It’s a great opportunity,” said Downey coach Jack Williams, who played against Warren when he was a student-athlete at Downey in the 1990s. “It’s probably been a year and a half in the making. Last year it was supposed to be a co-deal with Mater Dei and Bosco (and Downey vs. Warren) and things didn’t work out, but through the year we kept hitting up SoFi people and finally the paperwork got done last week.”

Williams thinks a large venue is appropriate for the rivalry game, and he’s thankful the Downey Unified School District was able to make it happen.

“I think our facilities are too small… I think it’s good for the City of Downey,” Williams continued. “As a kid, you want to play in the stadium like that, you want to play in a big-time game.”

The high school game will be hosted by the LA Bowl, the college football bowl game that will be played at SoFi Stadium on Dec. 16. The L.A. Bowl will match the Mountain West No. 1 team against the Pac-12’s No. 5 selection after the College Football Playoff brackets are finalized.

The winner of the Warren-Downey game will be invited back and recognized before the L.A. Bowl.

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