By Danny Vasquez and Jesus Figueroa
The rivalry between Theodore Roosevelt and Garfield high schools continued with the first “East Los Angeles Hall of Fame Classic” at East Los Angeles College’s Weingart Stadium on April 6. Roosevelt’s alumni won the close game, 18-16.
Both high schools are no strangers to competing against each other. Garfield won the 78th East Los Angeles (high school football) Classic last season, which was also at East L.A. College, 7-0, in front of an estimated crowd of 19,000. This alumni game drew roughly 600 people.
“We practiced two days a week for two hours,” Robert Sanchez, Garfield’s alumni coach said.
“It (practice) was a lot of conditioning and going over stuff, but we couldn’t be in pads or anything. Basically this was the first time these guys (played) in pads at all.”
“(We) have been practicing for about two months. Two weeks just there (no pads) and then about two months with pads. So we did good. It’s just something that for us means so much. You know for our communities, not just Boyle Heights,” Cesar Trillo, Roosevelt’s alumni coach and team captain said.
Roosevelt had good start as Isaac Huerta took the opening kickoff down the field to score the game’s first touchdown and a 6-0 lead. The point after touchdown attempt was blocked by Garfield’s defensive line. Each side of the opposing crowds screamed in the suspense and started competing with each other intensifying with every play.
“Execution is the key to success. If everybody executes like that and prepares nothing is impossible and you can accomplish so many things. If you don’t prepare, it’s never going to happen. It’s like for college students, if you don’t prepare for the future you’re never going to amount to anything,” Trillo said.
Garfield responded quickly scoring on their opening drive and completing a two-point conversion to take the lead 8-6.
Roosevelt battled back to take a 12-8 lead late in the third quarter. They failed to complete the two-point conversion try.
With a fumble recovery by Roosevelt off the kick-off following the touchdown, which gave them the lead, they ended the third quarter with possession of the ball and start the fourth quarter with their third touchdown and third failed two point conversion putting the score at 18-8.
The game stopped in the fourth quarter when Ray Castillo needed help getting off the field after sustaining an injury.
In the third quarter, Roosevelt’s defense was stingy and held Garfield to only three possessions. Garfield bounced back in the fourth quarter with a touchdown and a two-point conversion, but it wasn’t enough in the close loss.
“We did alright. We did a lot of mistakes. We were a bit unorganized of what can we do. We got a bunch of grown men out here, everybody wants to play,” Sanchez said, “We put ourselves in a jam.”
This alumni dedicated the game to the deceased alumni from both high school and to Emmanuel Rojas, who died, and was called “Mr. Boyle Heights.”