(Boyle Heights/East Los Angeles, CA) [From The Editor’s Desk]: Winning streaks are made to be broken, but it’s the how and the why that are usually not mentioned or discussed very much. This 2022 edition of the “East L.A. Classic” may pose a challenge to that type of thinking. It was very dramatic to see how it all played out on one of the biggest local high school football nights in recent memory and before the amazing crowd that came to watch the remarkable “East L.A.Classic” played between Roosevelt and Garfield, in none other than the hallowed and treasured confines of our beloved Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, under its Friday Night Lights, and on the 21st day of October, 2022.
This season’s Rough Riders dynamic and great eight game winning streak, one of the longest in their school’s football history, came to an end on this day when they were beaten, (16-8) at the hands of their arch-rival, the Garfield Bulldogs in a CIF/L.A. City Section (LACS) Eastern League title game showdown.
Before we get to our game recap, it’s extremely important to note here, that one of the most important aspects in producing this year’s “East L.A. Classic” was the change of venue from East L.A. College’s 20,000 maximum capacity, Weingart Stadium, to that of the renowned Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
The leaders and the powers that originate and emanate from the greater East Los Angeles community, such as George Pla, Cordoba Communications Founder, Roosevelt and Garfield Alumni groups, the L.A. Unified School District’s Superintendent, Alberto Carvalho, LAUSD Board Member, Monica Garcia, the 6 x Grammy Award winning music artist, Will.I.am and his BlackEyed Peas members, plus many other civic and community-based organizational leaders got together and decided to make the Coliseum this year’s venue. One of the Leaders’ main objectives was to make this the most recognizable and memorable platforms that would transcend all other rivalry high school games, while establishing it as one of the most unique fan experiences in the Nation.
The high technology coupled with the Black Eyed Peas musical repertoire did exactly what it was planned to do, completely entertain and satisfy the diverse music-loving crowd with an amazing, highlighted 30 minute Halftime Concert performance and light-show under the peristyle end of the Coliseum. Upon completion of that, the group subsequently went on to the field and performed with both schools’ Marching Bands, Cheer, Flag, and Drill Teams. After all, it was Homecoming Night for both schools. Nothing more to say!!
Now, here is our recap of the “2022 East L.A. Classic.”
[1st Qtr]: The Rough Riders won the coin-toss and deferred to Garfield. The Bulldogs, with possible in-game jitters, turned the ball over to the Riders on their first two possessions, the first on an interception by #9/Middle Linebacker/Alejandro Arroyo, and the second, a fumble, recovered by #24/Defensive End/Diego Lopez. Meanwhile the Riders were starting to find their offensive rhythms and were on their second possession. They began this drive at the 50 yard line and after a couple of plays later, the Roosevelt “Double Wing- T” playbook called for a wing-back “stutter step” right, then a “cut-back-go-left” read and suddenly #4/WB/Isaiah Wright found a perfect seam over left tackle, slipped through the crack, sprinted downfield and untouched into the end zone for the game’s first score. The 2-point conversion was good by #8/WB/Johan Alfaro. This came with (3:32) left in the period. Roosevelt 8, Garfield 0.
[2nd Qtr]: The emotional, hard-hitting, and overall tough play on the field was a “back-and-forth” style, with neither team able to register any consistent and/or “Big Play” type of offense. It was exclusively a defensive battle. However, the Riders were able to break through for more positive yard gainers and first downs than the Bulldogs. It stayed that way till late in the period when #8/Johan Alfaro, from his own 5 yard line, broke off a long 65 yard run over left tackle, hit the secondary, and was off to the races with nothing but lush green Coliseum turf under his feet, and with no one in sight.
But, and perhaps, making the play of the game on defense, from out of nowhere, Garfield’s Captain, #10/Jayden Barnes caught him from behind at the Garfield 30 yard line and made the tackle of the game up to that point. With time running down in the period, the Riders could not produce a short scoring drive to capitalize on Alfaro’s run to add their second touchdown. And the half would end with the Riders threatening to score at the Bulldogs 5 yard line after a 10 yard completion from QB/#12/Isaac Huerta to TE/#11 Jonathan Cervantes.
[HALFTIME SCORE]: Roosevelt 8 Garfield 0
[3rd Qtr]: For the first (8:00) minutes of the period, it was still a defensive battle on the field. The Riders were able to muster up some drives, but could not execute them to a scoring completion. Then, late in the quarter, it all came down to one of the most dramatic “big-game” plays, and the subsequent sideline official’s interpretive ruling, that we’ve seen in our years of covering the East L.A. Classic.
Here’s our account of what we saw on the extraordinary defensive play by the Rough Riders’ linebacker, #5/Jared Andrade. It came on a gigantic gamble by Coach Lorenzo Hernandez and his attempt to make a first down while hoping to keep their drive alive. It was on a “4th-and-10” and the line of scrimmage on this play was the Roosevelt 20 yard line. The time left in the period when this drive started was (5:00) minutes.
The Rough Rider defense knew the importance of ending the Garfield drive and were dug in solid to prevent a first down deep in their territory. And then, in front of an “East L.A. Classic” record-breaking crowd of 35,000 fans, Andrade spotted QB/#8/Damian Cabrera run out of the pocket and head to their sideline. Andrade knew it was a sprint to the 1st down marker and set his sights on stopping Cabrera from making it. Then, with a tremendous and thudding shoulder tackle at the point of impact, he forced Cabrera out of bounds, 2 yards shy of a first down at the 12 yard line.
All Roosevelt fans cheered the play vigorously, believing that their defense had held. But perhaps not seeing the yellow penalty flag thrown by the side judge, at nearly the exact moment of the “hit”, the entire Coliseum crowd waited nervously for the outcome. After the Crew Chief met with his calling official, the much-awaited ruling on the call, resulted in a major unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Roosevelt instead of rewarding it for a hard, but “questionable” stop for Andrade’s outstanding effort. It was to be expected that the Roosevelt supporters would stand in strong disapproval of the call, but it was hard to accept knowing that its player did what he had to do, just as the QB had to do. We must all keep in mind that during these tight and highly competitive rivalry high school games, there are no video replay reviews available to officials, and the game had to resume.
This penalty moved Garfield down to the 6 yard line after picking up half the distance to the goal from the spot of the foul at the 12 yard line. Now, it was a “1st & Goal-to-Go” for Garfield. They would then score on a basic 1 yard QB sneak by Cabrera, followed by the successful 2-point conversion run off tackle by #7/RB/Rob Sanchez. The game was now tied at this point, (8-8).
[4th Qtr]: The Bulldogs managed to drive deep into Roosevelt territory late in the game. And after picking up decent rushing yardage along with a few more unsportsmanlike penalties levied against the Riders, they found themselves knocking on the door of a scoring opportunity at the (3:00) minute mark.
The Bulldogs lined up at the 7 yard line and tried a running play, but to no avail. They then came back with another QB sneak by Cabrera from 4 yards out and were able to score with the recent new rule of “pushing the pile” that can now be implemented as a play. A touchdown was awarded with (1:59) left in the contest. The 2-point conversion was good once more, this time by Cabrera, as he moved the score to (16-8), Garfield.
With time running out, the Riders tried their best in moving as quickly as possible to execute a big game-changing play and possibly tie the game, perhaps even with a “Hail Mary” attempt, but they were unable to secure that objective. The Coliseum’s scoreboard clock simply ticked down to the magic numbers of (00:00) and the “2022 East L.A. Classic” finished with a rousing and thunderous applause by the enormous crowds for both schools in support of their team, whether it won or lost the game. It will surely go down in the “East L.A.Classic” record books as one of the Best Ever!!
But with the tried and true saying..“with every cloud comes a silver lining,” we invite all of our faithful followers, the Rough Rider Nation, and all CIF/L.A. City Section (LACS) high school football fans to read how Coach Parral compares that very descriptive axiom to the 2022 East L.A. Classic and its connection to the team’s post-season playoff run in his Coach’s Corner comments on the game at the end of our summary.
Along with the longtime and traditional fans of the Classic, the Planning Committee surely wants to thank all newly attracted fans to this deep-rooted and community supported contest. There are high hopes for an even better production in 2023, now that the bar has been raised to a higher overall standard. A profound and heartfelt thanks goes out to ALL who participated in making this one of the “Best East L.A. Classics” ever.
In our closing comment, we, here at East L.A. Sports Scene Productions, LLC cannot finish our 2022 “Classic” story without giving an enormous “Special Thanks” to Roosevelt High School alumnus, Mr. Miguel Torres, who has served for many, many years as the East L.A. Classic’s Media Coordinator. Thanks to his tremendous efforts, he conducted one of the Best “Pre-Classic” Press Conferences in recent memory, and devoted his timely assistance to the multitude of local media outlets, mainstream and others, who requested credentials to cover this longtime “Classic” game. We salute you for yet another Excellent job well done Hermano. ¡Muchas Gracias Sr. Torres!
–Coach Parral’s Corner–
On the bigger Corporate scenario of this year’s game at the Coliseum, the “Will.I.am”/”Black-Eyed Peas” performance, etc… give us the impact you believe it had on on the team, the school, and the community…..”It is amazing that we had the corporate sponsors we did this year. This is a testament to the caliber of this game and the commitment of our communities to support us over the years. The impact on the players was immense, the team felt the energy and knew that this particular game was going to be more than the already incredible annual spectacle. For corporations to spend their resources on backing us for this endeavor is really great. Although disappointed with the outcome, we are proud to have been part of arguably the greatest Classic ever played in its history and maybe the biggest game in California sports history.”
On your adjustment to the Garfield defense that was in a strong preventive run mode after you scored in the 1st quarter….”I made the mistakes this year and take full responsibility for the outcome of our game. We tell the kids week-in and week-out that the only team that is going to beat Roosevelt is Roosevelt. If you look at the remainder of the game, we had at least 3 scoring opportunities but kept making mistakes preventing us from scoring. The stat sheet does not lie. Roosevelt dominated that game from beginning to end. I heard all the noise after the game coming out of the Garfield camp, all it is, is NOISE. They got beat up all game and the Double Wing-T stopped itself with mistakes. Our defense did a great job last Friday. Garfield insiders are shocked they won and cannot believe that they were given the game. Their passing game was non-existent. In the end, the only numbers that matter is the score and Roosevelt fell short.”
On your final home game against South Gate this Friday, and then your thoughts on the playoff seedings…”There is an old saying that says ‘you have to take a step backward in order to go forward.’ That is what happened to us. We are going to move forward and finish strong this week against South Gate. Coach Eric Torres has his team ready to go and there are multiple threats on their side of the ball. Their top player, Terryonte Taylor, is a quality player and we are going to have a hard time containing his explosiveness. Their defensive standout, #44 Leonardo Contreras, is also a great ball player and we are going to have to figure out a way to prevent him from stopping us.”
“After South Gate, we will be expecting to be playing in the Open Division and are excited about the REAL season ahead. We play for Championships and are excited to take our show on the road. Roosevelt football has traveled all season and being a Road Warrior in the first round is expected. Whomever we are matched up with in the first round is going to be a tough opponent. Whether it is someone from the Marine League or Venice HS, Roosevelt is excited to have an opportunity to show how good we are, and of course pursue the ring that all 70 plus teams look forward to at the beginning of the year.”
Any other comments on the season…“I can not believe how quickly this campaign has gone this year. This is a great group of young men that our staff is blessed to work with. The families are awesome and we have bonded really well. Our goal is to play til Thanksgiving and maybe even an appearance in the State Bowl Series if things work-out in our favor. For now, our eyes are set on South Gate and we will be excited to finish Eastern League play this Friday night.”