To understand how important it is for City Section football players and coaches to experience Friday night lights, you have to realize what they go through just to get to this point.
During the offseason, one coach had to be a gardener, opening up the lid to the water timing device on the field, getting on his hands and knees and figuring out how to turn on the sprinklers. Another coach talked about having no ice machine, which might be more valuable to a football team than a bag of footballs. Another coach mentioned how his meager $2,811 coaching stipend was long gone and used to feed players, buy equipment and pay for seven-on-seven tournaments.
Then there was the scene in Highland Park on Friday night before the Franklin-San Fernando game. There was a grass field with a dirt track, straight out of the 1970s. San Fernando coach Robert Garcia was discussing why uniform No. 5 was missing from his team’s roster.
“The player wearing No. 5 quit and never returned the jersey,” he said.
You learn to deal with adversity and move on. That’s City Section creed.
“You have to have fun with it,” Garcia said. “I see it as helping kids in the community. I know what they go through every day and try to push them through it.”
Inspiration comes when two community schools supported by loyal alumni get together and prove any distractions off the field can be briefly forgotten for 48 minutes of pure fun.
Such was the case at Franklin, where coach Narciso Diaz has 15 assistant coaches, 14 of whom are Franklin grads.
“I’m in debt coaching,” Diaz said. “I love it. It’s the community I grew up in.”
As the sun dipped from the west, San Fernando (3-0), led by its big, imposing offensive line, put together a 95-yard scoring drive that set the stage for a 37-7 victory over Franklin. The game pretty much showed why San Fernando will be headed to the Open Division playoffs and Franklin to Division II.
San Fernando 14, Franklin 0. Bradley Pierce rumbles 43 yards for TD. pic.twitter.com/KznlSf1nG0— eric sondheimer (@latsondheimer) September 7, 2019
The Tigers’ 200-pound running back, Bradley Pierce, went through gaping holes and contributed touchdowns of one and 43 yards. Quarterback Adrian Lopez, much more composed and versatile than a year ago, had a three-yard touchdown run for a 22-0 halftime lead. Felix Rodriguez, who rushed for 101 yards, scored on a one-yard run.
Franklin (2-1) came in untested after a 54-0 win over Legacy and 63-0 win over Bassett. The Panthers’ standout quarterback, Alfred Bobadilla, didn’t have much time to throw. He ended up completing 20 of 32 passes for 277 yards and scored a touchdown. At the end of the third quarter, Chris Parker intercepted a Bobadilla pass and returned it 100 yards for a touchdown.
Afterward, Parker was smiling.
“When I’m out on the field, I’m playing my heart out for people gone in my life and people I love,” he said.
It’s high school football at its best.