Boyle Heights vs. East L.A. The communities are as passionate and as proud as any neighborhoods in Los Angeles.
That passion and pride have resulted in the East L.A. Classic high school football game matching Roosevelt against Garfield becoming one of the greatest annual events taking place in Los Angeles.
This season, the Coliseum will be the site for the 7 p.m. game on Friday and will include a halftime concert from the Black Eyed Peas.
“A lot of legends played on that field, like Mike Garrett,” said Roosevelt running back Jared Andrade, referring to the former Roosevelt star who won the 1965 Heisman Trophy playing for USC. “It feels amazing.”
A year ago, Roosevelt ended a 10-game losing streak to Garfield 22-19 in a game that went down to the final play. This season, Roosevelt is 7-0 and Garfield is 6-2. The Eastern League title will be on the line.
“We’re coming into this game with revenge completely on our mind,” Garfield defensive lineman Anthony August-Jones said.
Garfield coach Lorenzo Hernandez feels the pressure every season. His wife, Martha, graduated from Garfield and was taught to never lose to Roosevelt.
Asked what the consequences were for the 2021 loss, Hernandez said, “It was a very quiet house. Very little communication. Everything is at stake if you talk to the alumni.”
Roosevelt coach Aldo Parral has found a way to disrupt Garfield’s previous domination — the double-wing offense. Garfield spent much of its bye week preparing.
“We’re trying to stop their guards,” Jones said. “When they pull, we’re trying to stop that.”
Roosevelt’s double wing is more than running the ball. The Rough Riders also have a passing game and have figured out multiple ways to score.
“With each play we can do multiple things,” Andrade said.
It’s been helpful that the seniors on this year’s team have been running the double wing for four years. They think about it in their dreams. Andrade leads the team with 838 yards rushing and eight touchdowns.
Garfield has its own star in junior quarterback Damian Cabrera, who has passed for 1,012 yards and 13 touchdowns. Junior running back Damian Cornejo has gained 1,097 yards and scored 17 touchdowns.
The setting and stakes challenge the participants to focus on the game instead of what’s happening in the stands.
Andrade remembers seeing his first East L.A. Classic with an uncle when he was around 10. He will be playing in his third game.
“The stands are stomping as we came out and you get the chills,” he said. “I had butterflies. Once you get on the field and look around, it feels amazing.”
Jones didn’t get to play last season because of an injury. He stood on the sideline at East L.A. College.
“Playing in it, you have the pride of East Los Angeles or the pride of Boyle Heights,” he said. “You have a lot of pressure but not so much it overwhelms you.”
The Roosevelt goal is to show Garfield supporters that last year’s win was no fluke.
“We have to show them last year was not a mistake,” Andrade said. “There was a lot of talk we got lucky.”
Win or lose, the game is an example of how two rival communities can come together and support teenagers doing their best on the field.
The only question this season is how will the players get to see will.i.am perform with the Black Eyed Peas at halftime?
“I’m going to have to tell my parents to tape it because I want to see it, too,” Andrade said.
Andrade has a message for the fans for both sides.
“Looking up in stands and seeing all the people, it means a lot,” he said. “I like seeing our parents, band, drill and cheer teams. It makes us want to fight even harder.”