When comparing high school football rivalries in Southern California, there are few bigger than the one between Garfield and Roosevelt.
Friday night, they will meet for the 54th time before an expected capacity crowd of 25,000 in the East Los Angeles Classic at East Los Angeles College.
It is one of the oldest prep football series in the state--Roosevelt leads it, 28-19-6--and it attracts turn-away crowds every year.
For East Los Angeles, the game is more than just a game between two local prep football teams, it is a weeklong event.
Reunions, dinners, dances and fund-raisers bring together the community and returning alumni.
But most of all, the game gives people a chance to show their pride in either school.
“The game is a longstanding tradition in terms of family,” Roosevelt Coach David Endow said. “When it is time for this game, you are either a Roosevelt supporter or Garfield.
“I know of stories where a husband and wife attended the game together but sat on opposite sides because of their school pride.”
There have been many upsets and spectacular individual performances. In 1961, for instance, Mike Garrett, destined to become a Heisman Trophy winner at USC, scored six touchdowns for Roosevelt against Garfield.
Garfield Coach Steve Robinson said: “I tell my players that they’re playing family because they all know each other. It will be a game that they will remember the rest of their lives.”
This year’s matchup, though, has a special twist. For the first time in 20 years, a league title is at stake.
Garfield is tied for first with Huntington Park in the Eastern League with a 4-1 record, 5-1 in overall play. Roosevelt is in third place with a 3-1-1 league record and 3-3-1 overall mark.
“For the first time since 1969, this game will be for the league championship,” said Robinson, whose team had a bye last week. “We both need to win in order to win the league title.”
Garfield, which lost an early-season game to defending City 3-A Division champion South Gate, 7-6, is led by standout senior running back Hilario Espinosa, who has 987 yards this season.
“We want to get Espinosa over the 1,000 yard mark early,” Robinson said. “We have had many great 1,000-yard rushers here at Garfield over the years, but he has a chance to be the first to do it in only seven games.”
Roosevelt is coming off a last-minute, 6-3 loss to Huntington Park.
“Generally, we go into this game progressing . . . getting better each week,” Endow said. “But, I am very skeptical for this game. We are still looking for personnel.”
Leading the way for Roosevelt will be running back David Isiah and the passing combination of quarterback Javier Lopez and receiver Robert Cervantes.
Endow, who played for Roosevelt in the middle ‘60s, knows that the Roughriders will have to stop Espinosa in order to win.
“We have been sputtering on offense in our last two games,” Endow said. “We have to be able to control the ball better to combat Garfield’s relentless ground attack.
“It is going to be an uphill battle for us, but regardless of the records of the teams going in, with this game, anything can happen.”
After seven weeks of play, there are five undefeated football teams in the City. One surprise on the list is Venice of the Western League.
A big reason for the Gondoliers’ success this season has been the versatility of Louis Jones.
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound senior has done it all for Venice. In the Gondoliers’ 20-14 win over Manual Arts last Friday, Jones, who starts at quarterback, passed for nearly 100 yards and rushed for a team-high 93. This season, he has already scored touchdowns as a running back and wide receiver.
On defense, Jones started at safety and made several touchdown-saving tackles of Toiler runners. He also recorded a key quarterback sack in the fourth quarter from a defensive end position.
Jones also handled Venice’s kicking chores with two extra points and a 40-yard average on four punts.
It was only fitting that his second interception of the game clinched the Gondoliers’ victory with one second left.
According to City Athletic Director Hal Harkness, four schools requested league alignment changes for the 1990-91 school year at an open meeting last Thursday.
A City committee meeting Thursday will consider the requests made by Narbonne, Canoga Park, Garfield and Dorsey.
“We will have a closed meeting to decide if there will be any moves made regarding their proposals,” Harkness said. “If we do, any schools that will be affected by the changes will have a chance to respond Nov. 27.”
Narbonne, Canoga Park and Dorsey asked to be moved from the leagues they are in, and Garfield requested a major conference realignment involving Garfield and Roosevelt.
In the Southern Section, Loyola will appeal a recent Catholic Athletic Assn. releaguing proposal.
Because of the addition of Santa Margarita, a 3-year-old Catholic school in Rancho Santa Margarita, the CAA came up with a redesigned league proposal for the Southern Section’s committee, which will be submitted Dec. 5.
In the proposal, Santa Margarita is in the large-school division with Bishop Amat of La Puente, Mater Dei of Santa Ana, St. John Bosco of Bellflower, Servite of Anaheim and Loyola, located near downtown Los Angeles; along with all-girls schools Rosary of Fullerton and St. Joseph of Lakewood.
The smaller-schools division consists of Alemany of Mission Hills, Bishop Montgomery of Torrance, Chaminade of Canoga Park, Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks, St. Bernard of Playa del Rey, Crespi of Encino and St. Paul of Sante Fe Springs.
Athletic Director Jon Dawson said Loyola will appeal because of possible academic problems for its students.
“We are appealing for the students’ concern first and not for competition reasons,” Dawson said. “The travel demands just do not make sense.
“We are 65 miles from Santa Margarita, one-way, and 45 miles from Mater Dei. In the old alignment, St. John Bosco was our furthest trip and now it is our closest.”
Loyola, which competes in the Del Rey League, will have a chance to appeal by Dec. 5.
Two City Pacific League matchups Friday: Crenshaw and the City’s top rusher, Kevin Hicks, playing Banning at Gardena High, and Dorsey facing top-ranked Carson at Veterans Stadium in Long Beach. Hicks, who has rushed for 1,301 yards this season, gained 146 yards in the Cougars’ 25-20 victory over Washington Friday. Carson quarterback Armin Youngblood is on a pace to break school passing records in yardage and touchdowns. He has completed 62 of 119 passes for 1,231 yards with 16 touchdowns. . . . Santiago Alvarez of Franklin passed for six touchdowns and completed 26 of 36 passes for 361 yards in the Panthers’ 44-0 win over Hollywood.
Sophomore La Karlos Townsend rushed for 159 yards in only four carries to lead San Fernando to a 27-7 win over Woodland Hills Taft. . . . Ivan Wilson of South Gate rushed for more than 175 yards and scored two touchdowns in the Rams’ 27-22 win over Locke. . . . Michael Jones and Derek Sparks rushed for 180 and 131 yards, respectively, in Montclair Prep’s 34-19 victory over LA Baptist.
Two members of the state championship girls’ track team at Pasadena Muir, Inger Miller and Kandace Watson, were selected to the 1990 Tournament of Roses’ Royal Court.
TIMES’ TOP TEAMS
No. School, League: Record
1. Fontana, Citrus Belt: 8-0-0
2. Long Beach Poly, Moore: 6-1-0
3. El Toro, South Coast: 8-0-0
4. Lompoc, Northern: 8-0-0
5. Hawthorne, Bay: 8-0-0
6. Serra, Camino Real: 8-0-0
7. Loyola, Del Rey: 7-1-0
8. Capistrano Valley, South Coast: 8-0-0
9. Palos Verdes, Bay: 7-1-0
10. Thousand Oaks, Marmonte: 7-0-1
11. Arcadia, Pacific: 7-1-0
12. Paramount, San Gabriel Valley: 7-1-0
13. Los Alamitos, Empire: 7-1-0
14. Montclair Prep, Alpha: 8-0-0
15. Los Altos, Sierra: 7-1-0
No. School, League: Record
1. Carson, Pacific: 5-1-0
2. Banning, Pacific: 6-0-1
3. Granada Hills, North Valley: 7-0-0
4. South Gate, Central: 7-0-0
5. Dorsey, Pacific: 4-2-0
6. Franklin, Northeast: 6-1-0
7. Westchester, Western: 6-1-0
8. San Fernando, North Valley: 4-3-0
9. Grant, Valley East: 7-0-0
10. Venice, Western: 7-0-0