Always a Classic

There will be plenty on the line -- including the Eastern League football title -- tonight when Garfield and Roosevelt play in the "East Los Angeles Classic" at East Los Angeles College. But that isn't always the case when the teams meet. Neither has won a City Section Championship Division title and the game often generates little buzz outside East L.A. So The Times asked players, coaches, community members, administrators and famous alumni from both schools why more than 20,000 people show up each year for the game:

'You might lose all your games, but you win the East L.A. Classic and you still have a good season.'

-- William Crockett,

Garfield assistant principal

'This is our little Latino Super Bowl.'

-- Cesar Trillo,

assistant coach at Roosevelt

'It's a homecoming for both schools, and that's rare. You get people from Texas and New York calling in January on our switchboard asking 'When's the date of the game?' so they can plan their vacation and come down here.'

-- Lorenzo Hernandez,

Garfield head coach

'Often, as was the case with my family, the game pits family members against family members. You can't get a more basic rivalry than that. So it's no surprise that so many fans of both schools hold this rivalry so near to their heart.'

-- Mike Garrett,

USC athletic director, Roosevelt Class of 1961

'It was especially important in the '70s and '80s when there was so much negativity being talked about East L.A. This was a time when everyone said, 'This is the pride of East L.A. This is a positive thing and let's keep it that way.' I remember rival gangs would make unofficial truces not to mess around at this game because this is when the spotlight was on East L.A. Now it's very safe, family- oriented and a good thing because people got that message that we want to show off the positive attributes that exist in East L.A.'

-- Jose Huizar,

Los Angeles City councilman

-- Ben Bolch

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