By Kevin Camargo
Garfield takes the East Los Angeles Classic game. For the eighth time in a row, the Garfield High School Bulldogs defeated the Roosevelt High School Rough RIders, 34-14, in the 83rd annual East LA Classic.
Roosevelt dominated the first quarter of the game, with the score 7-0 leaving Garfield without any points. Garfield had many dropped passes, flags and a high snap that gave Roosevelt good field position.
“It’s what we expected, we knew they were going to come out and they were going to hit is in the mouth,” said Lorenzo Hernandez, Garfield Head Coach. “I just think that they got us ready to play (because) we needed a little quick wake-up call. We knew it was going to happen as coaches, but our kids responded well.”
Once the second quarter started, Garfield scored quickly and dominated the rest of the game.
“We started off a little slow, but slowly we got our momentum up,” said Adam Polanco, the senior quarterback for Garfield. “(Our) offense executed and (our) defense stepped up. It took a little while for us to build up, but it’s not how you start its how you finish.”
Polanco said he has a lot of respect for Roosevelt, and that many of his teammates were new to this classic game.
“I just told them (my teammates), ‘it’s going to be loud, people are going to scream, you just gotta keep your composure, communicate and not let anyone say anything to you to get you mad,” said Polanco.
Roosevelt lost 49-3 the previous year. So compared to last year, Roosevelt did much better this year.
“Last year, it was not even competitive, they struggled even to punt the ball, this year they were able to line up and do some great things,” said Hernandez.
Ricardo Zepeda, who is in his second year as the Roosevelt Head Coach, has previously coached at Roosevelt in 2002 and moved onto ELAC and Whittier to coach, before he went back to coach again at Roosevelt.
“(Last year) was my first year. So in terms of trying to change the culture and build up the program, there was a lot of push-back from the kids because i wasn’t going to lower the standards,” said Zepeda. “Very few kids responded, but those are the core group of kids that are still here.”
Zepeda also played football at Roosevelt, but he sees a significant change in the rivalry game.
“The culture is a little different. When I played there was a hate. Now-a-days with a lot of these kids follow (each other) on Instagram (and) Snapchat. There’s kids from Garfield and Roosevelt taking pictures together. We just didn’t have that back then,” said Zepeda. “The dynamic of the community has changed, where they’re a little more connected than we used to be.”
Zepeda said that even though the rivalry game seems to bring the schools together, to a certain extent, they’re already together but this gives them a reason to interact with each other.
“This is what (it’s) about. It’s a big homecoming game for both schools and I think they do a tremendous job and us being able to provide such a great platform for that is amazing,” said Hernandez.
The game consisted of Garfield and Roosevelt alumni, along with current students in the crowded stands. There were halftime performances from both schools, including a live performance from Roosevelt’s own, Mariachi Olimpico.
“This team belongs to a lot of people; they deserve a lot of credit. The kids (also) deserve a lot of credit. This is extracurricular activity. After school they’re putting in a lot of extra time, and they deserve that recognition,” said Zepeda.