Cars lined the streets and fans packed shoulder to shoulder in the stands Friday night to see a rematch more than 30 years in the making.
Montebello and Garfield, separated by just over two miles and boasting players who shared middle schools and Pop Warner teams, put on a show that all those rubbing shoulders could appreciate.
After three fake punt conversions, nine lead changes and a host of sloppy play, Garfield defeated Montebello 39-36 in the teams’ season opener behind senior quarterback Adam Polanco, who had 270 total yards and accounted for four touchdowns.
Garfield coach Lorenzo Hernandez said it’s a mystery as to why the two sides hadn’t met in so long, but he’s glad it happened.
“It was a great game and great atmosphere, but we were here to win the game,” he said. “I’m glad we were able to put this together and I have a feeling it’s going to brew around the community as we showed great pride in our programs.”
Garfield began its trickery to close the first half as a fake punt on fourth and long turned into an 18-yard gain, and with the clock ticking toward zero, Polanco found Jalen Lawrence for a 43-yard touchdown to give the Bulldogs a 19-15 advantage at the break.
Montebello struck first in the third quarter with a touchdown run from Kris Rodriguez, which was answered by Polanco’s three-yard keeper to give Garfield a 26-22 lead.
Michael Vital’s touchdown gave Montebello a 29-26 lead at the end of the third, but Polanco’s touchdown pass to Angel Hidalgo made it 32-29 Garfield with 5:41 to go.
The Bulldogs got a huge defensive stop on the next Montebello sequence and Moses Gonzalez punched one in from four yards out to give Garfield a 39-29 lead with 2:40 to go.
Vital answered with a 61-yard touchdown run with 1:37 left, but Montebello couldn’t hold Gonzalez on a late fourth-and-short conversion.