With a packed stadium looking on, Roseburg all-state quarterback Paul Brothers (9) and an unidentified teammate meet with Medford quarterback Dan Miles (13) and defensive tackle John Mee before their state quarterfinal game on Nov. 16, 1962 at Medford St

Unyielding Champions

The 1962 Medford High School football team was downright defensive in claiming the state title
Anyone who followed Medford High football during its heydays of the 1950s and '60s knew that the 1962 Black Tornado team was going to be rock-solid.

In those days, when Medford had only one high school and football was king, weren't they all?

The Tornado wasn't far removed from winning the 1959 state championship, and it was the state runner-up in '56 and '58.

Not only that, but from 1953 to '61, the school went unbeaten in conference play.

Expectations were always high during that era. But quite honestly, the 1962 squad didn't look to be as loaded as some of the others. Many of the best players, such as major college recruits Jeff Hardrath and Bill Enyart, were underclassmen.

This was also coach Fred Spiegelberg's smallest team since he took over the program 10 years earlier. The offensive line averaged all of 177 pounds, the defensive line 173&

189; .

Quarterback Danny Miles stood 5-foot-7 and weighed 160.

But what the Tornado lacked in size, it made up for in quickness, grit, togetherness, confidence and ' most of all ' a defense that would make the Pentagon proud.

Talk about stingy. The Tornado didn't allow a single point until its eighth game, and yielded just 20 points all season as it whriled to an 11-0 record and the A-1 (Class 4A) state championship.

Today marks the 40th anniversary of Medford's 14-0 victory over North Salem in the state title game at Portland's Multnomah Stadium (now PGE Park).

We didn't have any superstars ' just a bunch of guys who were used to winning and who played well together, says Miles, now the head basketball coach at Oregon Tech in Klamath Falls. Compared to those guys in '59 and '60, we were a bunch of no-names.

But what we accomplished didn't surprise us. Maybe the fans and the sports writers and the teams up north, but certainly not us.

Gary Griffin, a 160-pound linebacker who earned first-team, all-state honors in the Oregon Journal newspaper, anchored what must be considered the greatest defense in Medford football history.

After romping past non-conference opponents The Dalles, Marshfield and South Salem by scores of 27-0, 27-0 and 20-0 in its first three games, the Tornado leaned almost exclusively on its defense to earn a 7-0 victory over Crater in its Southern Oregon Conference opener.

Then came another hard-fought SOC victory, 13-0 over Klamath Union, followed by 42-0 and 48-0 wins over La Grande and Ashland.

Next was the annual showdown against Grants Pass, the game that almost always determined the conference title.

Back then, only the conference champion advanced to the state playoffs. That made this bitter rivalry all the more intense.

Medford hadn't lost to the Cavemen since 1953 ' there were ties in '57 and '58 ' but all-state halfback Terry Isabell stunned the Tornado by returning the opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown.

So much for Medford's scoreless streak that had lasted for seven straight games.

I was standing on the sidelines and that guy (Isabell) ran right past me, recalls John Mee, an all-conference tackle on the Tornado's defense. I wanted to reach out and trip him.

Medford's only consolation was that Mee came in to block the extra point, leaving the Cavemen's lead at 6-0.

It was quite a shock, but we didn't panic, Miles says. I told our guys in the huddle that it was like being behind 1-0 in the first inning of a baseball game. We've had all day to make it up.

Medford's dependable 'D' did its job, shutting out the Cavemen the rest of the way while forcing three turnovers and yielding only 93 yards of offense.

Halfback Jack Lowery, meanwhile, tied the game on a 2-yard run on the first play of the second quarter, and Miles' PAT kick gave the Tornado a 7-6 lead.

Miles hooked up with all-state end Lloyd Hammons on a 25-yard touchdown pass in the third period for Medford's other touchdown.

Now it was on to the playoffs, where Medford squared off against defending state champion Roseburg in the quarterfinal round.

The Indians were led by all-state quarterback Paul Brothers, who would later star at Oregon State and guide the Beavers to the Rose Bowl following the 1964 season.

Before a crowd of 7,500 at muddy Medford Stadium ' the venue would later be renamed in honor of Spiegelberg ' Lowery scored on touchdown runs of 4 and 10 yards and Medford pulled out a 14-7 win.

While defense was the legacy of this Tornado team, the offense came through for its most impressive drive of the season to win the game.

With the score tied 7-7 late in the third period and backed up to its 14-yard line following a clipping penalty, Medford went on an 86-yard, 20-play drive that culminated in Lowery's second touchdown.

The march featured just one pass ' a 10-yard advance from Miles to Gibb Mitchell ' and ate up more than eight minutes on the clock.

Spieg (Spiegelberg) loved to run the ball and we were still operating out of the single wing about half the time in those days, Miles says. That was one heck of a drive, our best of the season.

Medford nearly duplicated the long drive the following week in the semifinals against Oregon City, taking the opening kickoff and scooting 79 yards in 11 plays en route to a 19-7 victory over the Pioneers.

That set the stage for the state championship game against North Salem, a big, physical team that featured six players over 200 pounds.

Sports writers in the northern part of the state predicted a North Salem victory, but Medford's trusty defense was up for the test one last time on a rainy night in Portland.

Before a crowd of 8,068, Griffin ran back an interception 26 yards for a touchdown three minutes into the second period, and Medford added a touchdown with 42 seconds remaining in the game following another turnover ' Mee's fumble recovery at the North Salem 4-yard line ' to secure a 14-0 win.

The shutout was Medford's eighth in 11 games.

Gang tackling was the key to that team, says Enyart, who went on to a record-breaking career at Oregon State and spent three years in the NFL. Our down linemen were as quick as cats, and we always had seven or eight guys tackling the ball carrier.

North Salem managed just four first downs, 118 yards of total offense and never advanced past the Tornado 30-yard line.

And Gary Collette, the Vikings' 210-pound fullback who many thought would bull his way through his smallish counterparts, was held to 75 yards on 21 carries.

North Salem's last hope was snuffed out in the fourth period when Medford stopped Collette for no gain on a fourth and less-than-one play at midfield. Collette hobbled off the field with a knee injury a short time later.

When I saw Collette go to the sidelines with a dejected look on his face, I knew we had them beat, Mee says. They were a big team, but they had no answer for our quickness.

Newspaper accounts credited Medford's front eight for what truly was a collective effort: down linemen Mee, Mike Mayfield, Brian Petersen and Terry Winetrout and linebackers Griffin, Enyart, Roy Shaw and Bill Houston.

And in a game where defense ruled on both sides, Tim Murray's booming punts for the Tornado also deserved mention. Murray averaged 38 yards on seven kicks, including a 48-yarder.

After the game, the Tornado players threw Spiegelberg and beloved line coach Paul Tiny Evensen into the showers ' a tradition later replaced by sideline drenchings with buckets of water.

The following day, Oregon Journal sports editor George Pasero wrote: In its long and wonderful sports history, Medford High may have produced bigger, stronger and flashier teams than this year's state championship crew.

But none ever hustled more, scrambled more, played with more fire and desire than these 1962 victors over North Salem's powerhouse team.

The little team with the big heart had won it all.

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