(East Los Angeles, Boyle Heights & Wilmington, CA) [From The Editor’s Desk]: It was a perfect, November 10th “Fall” 2022 evening for Friday Night Lights and High School Football to take center stage in the eight team CIF/L.A. City Section’s (CIF/LACS) Quarterfinal “OPEN” Division Playoff game. It was played on their home field, named after their well-known, (1969-1972) alumnus, Vince Ferragamo, the former NFL, and Los Angeles Rams quarterback.
This big playoff match-up consisted of the #3 seeded, Banning Pilots, overall record of (5-5) and members of Marine League with their (3-1) league record vs. the visiting and #6 seeded, Roosevelt Rough Riders with their overall record of (9-1), membership in the Section’s Eastern League, and holders of a (5-1) league record.
[1st Qtr]: The Riders scored on the first possession at minute (8:46), when Coach Parral called for a “toss-right-sweep”, and it paid off big time as #4/WB/Isaiah Wright made his turn up-field at the edge, after picking up huge a block, and then sprinted down the sideline, past his bench, and scored untouched on a 63 yard touchdown run. The Rough Riders then added their customary 2 point-conversion attempt this time by #10/QB/Isaac Huerta, and were successful for an early (8-0) lead.
Banning’s Head Coach, Raymond Grajeda, now in his 6th year, had some problems in figuring out the Riders tough, and hard-hitting defense as the Pilots were held to several “3 & Outs” and ultimately were held scoreless in the first period of play. Leading his teammates into the contest were SR-QB/#8/Robert Guerrero, SR-RB/#4/Caleb Nuhi-Yandall, and his younger brother, JR-WR/#21/Elijah Nuhi-Yandall.
[2nd Qtr]: The Riders went back to work and kept hammering away with their timely sets out of the traditional Double Wing-T offense, with a few added variables, as they dominated the line of scrimmage, forcefully enough to produce good and positive rushing yardage, but only one additional Touchdown in the period.
Meanwhile, the Pilots began to show their offensive strength on the running skills of #4/SR-RB/Caleb Nuhui-Yandall and then in the passing and running abilities of their QB-SR/#8/Robert Guerrero, as they mounted and completed their first TD at the (10:26) mark when C. Nuhi-Yandall broke through the right defensive secondary and scored all-alone on a circus play that brought a roar from the Banning crowd, as he displayed a “leaping-the-defender” 20 yard scamper, untouched. Their PAT failed. The scoreboard now read Roosevelt 8, Banning 6.
The Banning second score came at the (6:29) minute mark when Guerrero found WR/Elijah Nuhi-Yandall uncovered and just to the left of the goal post. The Riders were caught in 1-on-1 coverage and Nuhi-Yandall was left all alone. Once again, the PAT was unsuccessful. Score was now Pilots 12, Riders 8.
To close out the first half, the Rough Riders then mounted a long and time-consuming drive that went 80 yards and they maintained possession for the next (5:30) minutes as the TD was scored by #10/SR-QB Isaac Huerta on a 1 yard dive. Andrade picked up the 2-point conversion to move Roosevelt back up on top by the score of (16-12).
[HALF-TIME SCORE: Roosevelt 16 Banning 12
[3rd Qtr]: Due to their coin toss win, the Riders deferred on the opening “kick-off” and true to their 3rd quarter game fortunes of receiving the second-half kick-off, all season long, they were once again in search of adding more points to their lead. They achieved the goal of great execution on their Double-Wing T ground and pound game while accruing lots time of possession advantage, when they confidently marched down the field for (10:45) minutes of consumed time. However, their long drive stalled, thus surrendering the ball back to the Pilots deep in their own territory.
And here is the play where the spark that re-ignited the Banning offense. With just over a minute left in the period, a “slant” passing play was called by Coach Grajeda. His QB/Guerrero then brought the student-body, all faculty present, the school’s big Marching Band, Cheer/Song group, parents, and their large community crowd all to their feet with an electrifying 80 yard “catch and run” TD pass to his wide receiver, E. Nuhi-Yandall. This time, the regular PAT by #13/PK/Juan Pablo Becerra was good, and the Pilots then re-took the lead at (19-16).
[4th Qtr]: This critical period opened with the Rough Riders receiving the Pilots “kick-off.” And right away the Riders were back on their running track. After using his bevy of running backs, made up of Andrade, Wright, Reed, Alfaro, and Arroyo, Coach Parral and his Riders found themselves inside the Banning “Red Zone” and then after a first and goal-to-go, drove down to the Pilots’ five yard line.
After another run to the two by Reed, Andrade took the pitch from Huerta and swept in for the five yard TD, making the score Riders, 22, Pilots, 16. Wright would get credit for adding the 2-point conversion at the (8:45) mark. But the Pilots gathered themselves together and with their Head Coach, Raymond Grajeda giving directions, made a strong and determined late-game rally in the hopes of overcoming the visitors on a touchdown drive.
With Banning running the ensuing “kick-off” back to their 35, this gave them excellent field position. On the next snap, Guerrero dropped back looking for his targets downfield but they were well-covered, so he immediately went to his run option and scooted up field 25 yards to the Riders 40 yard line. That was followed by a low, shoe-string, ground-level “50/50” type of completion to the Riders 35 yard line. The officiating crew’s back judge had to make the call from behind the receiver, #22/Steve Perez, as the side judge could not offer any assurance or denial on the play, most likely due to his distance from the reception.
This gave Banning a first-down at the Riders 30 yard line. Next, an unsportsmanlike personal foul for “face-masking” was assessed to Roosevelt. Caleb Nuhi-Yandall was the running back on the play. This gave the Pilots another 15 yards and moved the new line of scrimmage down to the Roosevelt 17 yard line. The next play resulted in a Guerrero “roll-out right” and one more time he found #21/E. Nuhi-Yandall wide open in the flat. He took it to the House for the go-ahead score. The Pilots failed for the 3rd time in 4 tries for their PAT. The score was now Banning 25, Roosevelt 24 with (1:09) left in the game.
After the “kick-off” the Riders last possession came with their start at their own 20 yard line after the automatic touchback. After picking up two quick first downs, the Riders hopes for a come-back victory were dashed when QB/Huerta and his center, Guillermo Vasquez had a mishandling of the snap, and after a big-time battle for the loose ball, it resulted in Banning’s LB/#42/Pedro Ibañez, recovering the ball with just (00:40 secs) left to play in the contest.
After Guerrero took two traditional “victory” snaps, the game clock reached the (00:00) mark and the game was over. The two teams then gave each other the “Warriors Salute” at midfield as the Riders’ incredible, and best season to date under Head Coach Aldo Parral, came to a “bitter-sweet” end.
[FINAL SCORE]: Banning 25 Roosevelt 24
[BRIEF SEASON SUMMARY]: The Riders final overall record was (9-2). They played a total of seven games on the road, winning six, while playing just three home games, and losing one neutral site contest. They averaged over 40 points per game and beat non-conference teams such as Lincoln, Carson, Dorsey, and Crenshaw. The team was also ranked n the City Section’s Top 10 for the entire season. Their biggest achievement was yet another appearance in the CIF/L.A. City Section’s, Field of 8, “Open Division.” There is certainly much for the entire Rough Riders football team, the co-related activities for participation by the school’s Marching Band, Cheer/Song/Dance teams, Student-Body, Faculty, Parents, and the entire Boyle Heights community to be Thankful for, and Proud of, for this 2022 season. Now it’s on to the 2023 season!
-Coach Parral’s Corner-
On your expectations of the “back & forth” type of game that was played and the halftime lead that you had, at (16-12)…”It was a fantastic game to be a part of and it is a shame that it ended the way it did. The boys and coaching staff did an excellent job preparing for the Banning game. We knew it was going to be a tough for us but we felt that our offense was going to be able to move the ball on them. We did an excellent job doing so and controlling the clock. I believe we had the ball 18 of the 24 minutes in the second half. Unfortunately, we have a lot of boys that go both ways and they were extremely tired as the clock wound down. Being shorthanded played a big role towards the end of the game.”
On the possibility of receiving a State playoff bid…“There will be no State bid for us. The CIF/L.A. City Section will send the winners of each of the Division Championships.”
On your outlook for the 2023 season…”The 2023 season will be upon us shortly. I feel that we will be prepared to put out a quality team and hope that our kids follow through on their commitment to our off-season lifting program. This team is graduating a huge number of Seniors. Usually we just reload and get going as we have done in the past 5 years. This upcoming team is our COVID squad, and many schools across the District, maybe even the State, were affected and participation numbers were low. It will be a relatively young team and we will be coaching them up throughout the season and have them ready for playoffs.”
On any other comments or thoughts…”Thank you to this year’s Seniors, parents, and our school community. We have been blessed with an extraordinary group of young men that have chosen Roosevelt and believed in our brand of football. It takes a special person to be selfless and do what is best for WE and not ME. Thank you to the graduating class of 2023.