A high school football rivalry as storied as the East L.A. Classic between Garfield and Roosevelt, played for the 85th time Friday night, doesn’t require a lot of manufactured motivation.
But there were plenty of moments leading up to the 2019 edition that created added incentive coming into the Eastern League championship game.
Back in March, Garfield quarterback Jonathan Bautista briefly transferred to Roosevelt only to return to the Bulldogs a couple of days later.
Then, in Wednesday’s media session, Roosevelt coach Aldo Parral was candid, saying he was happy that Garfield lost in the CIF State Division 4-A Bowl Game last season, while insinuating that the Bulldogs’ recent success in the rivalry boils down to recruiting.
An hour prior to kickoff at East L.A. College, Garfield coach Lorenzo Hernandez laughed off those comments but made it clear his team was none too pleased with what was said.
The Bulldogs not only took home the league championship, but also their 10th straight victory in the rivalry, and did so in convincing fashion with a 25-0 shutout.
“They gave us a lot of bulletin board material,” Hernandez said. “It made our guys want to come out and prove that [our team] is not just about one [or two] guys.”
Garfield (8-2, 6-0) was especially effective on defense, forcing and recovering four Roosevelt fumbles and turning those mistakes into 16 points.
A pivotal play came in the third quarter after Garfield scored on the opening possession of the half on a three-yard run from P.J. Garcia. On Roosevelt’s ensuing drive, Khyren Ross scooped up a fumble and returned it 44 yards for a touchdown, giving the Bulldogs their final margin with 7:32 left in the quarter.
The Bulldogs pitched their fifth shutout during league play and held the Rough Riders (7-3, 5-1) to 106 yards of total offense.
Garfield will now prepare for the City Section Open Division playoffs, and with Narbonne barred from postseason play for the next two seasons, Hernandez is optimistic about making another deep playoff run.
“It’s truly an open division now,” he said. “It’s unfortunate what happened, but now it’s a real open opportunity for everyone.”