Garfield prevails over Roosevelt in East L.A. Classic
By: Devin Ugland
The annual meeting between the Garfield and Roosevelt football teams is so steeped in rivalry and tradition that through its more than eight decades it continues to be a treat, no matter the result.
On Friday night, Garfield won its sixth straight in 81st year of the East L.A. Classic, defeating Roosevelt, 39-14, at East Los Angeles College's Weingart Stadium.
Garfield sophomore quarterback Adam Polanco led the way, completing 11 of 13 passes for 164 yards and four touchdowns, while rushing for 96 yards and two more scores as the Bulldogs dominated the Rough Riders and set up a showdown with South Gate next week with the Eastern League title on the line.
Roosevelt's two touchdowns came late in the fourth quarter on Andrew Gallegos' passes of 55 and eight yards.
Roosevelt (4-5, 2-3) leads the all-time series, 40-34-6, but the East L.A. Classic accomplishes more than just one team winning and another losing. It brings together two communities to support the success of their young men both on and off the field.
Stroll through the parking lot and into concourse of the stadium before kickoff and there an overwhelming smorgasbord of food options: Tacos, burritos, hot dogs, and yes, even churros for those looking to satisfy their sweet tooth.
Walk through each side of the bleachers and there are fans, young and old, who span multiple decades themselves, waving pompoms, flags and holding signs for their favorite players.
Most of them are alums, family members, current students or future students who drench themselves in their favorite team's colors — midnight blue on this night for Garfield and crimson for Roosevelt, the designated home team.
"It's a beautiful atmosphere," Garfield Coach Lorenzo Hernandez said. "I've been here since 1999 and I was very wowed by this in my first experience. For a high school game, it's incredible."
It's one of the most highly attended and pageantry-filled high school football games in all of the country, routinely drawing more than 20,000 boisterous fans, while the schools each hold homecoming festivities prior to the game and put together extravagant halftime shows with their bands and spirit squads.
"People keep coming back," said Roosevelt Coach Javier Cid, a 1984 Rough Riders graduate. "They love the atmosphere because it's a positive event on the east side" of downtown Los Angeles.