The importance of the East L.A. Classic speaks for itself as one of the premier high school football rivalries in the country, but the 84th edition was especially critical for the Garfield high school football team.
With a win, the Bulldogs would keep their undefeated season alive, the first in coach Lorenzo Hernandez’s 16-year tenure, secure their ninth straight Eastern League title, and head into the City Section playoffs with a huge momentum boost.
Garfield continued its recent dominance of the series, handily defeating Roosevelt 35-15 for its ninth straight win over the Rough Riders and closed its all-time series deficit to two, trailing 40-38-6.
“It all came down to this,” Hernandez said. “We came in undefeated, knew we were in for a fight and our defense made key stops. Our quarterback stayed poised and distributed the ball at the correct and appropriate time.”
Friday night’s game at Weingart Stadium on the campus of East Los Angeles College was packed to the brim, as it usually is, with generations’ worth of alumni from each school, and the Garfield side was more than pleased with the Bulldogs’ quick start.
It only took sophomore quarterback Jonathan Bautista 1:12 to open the scoring as he connected with receiver Bruce Gonzalez for a 22-yard touchdown.
The Bulldogs then took advantage of a Rough Riders fumble, swiftly turning short field position into a 1-yard touchdown run from Peter Jason Garcia at the 7:38 mark of the first.
Bautista, who made just his fifth varsity start after being brought up from the junior varsity team, used his legs on the third score of the opening quarter, rushing in a 15-yard keeper with 3:19 left in the period.
Garfield (10-0, 6-0) extended its advantage to four touchdowns on a 74-yard interception return by Angel Hidalgo.