If You Didn't See The 2021 East LA Classic Football Game, You Missed Out
Friday’s East L.A. Classic football game between Boyle Heights’ Roosevelt High School and East L.A.’s Garfield High School contained all the emotions of a city reeling from 19 months of a pandemic: grief over lost loved ones, relief at connecting with classmates and neighbors again, and jubilance at returning to an in-person event. On the field and off, it was a comeback story inside a comeback story embedded in yet another comeback story.
Comeback #1: After the Roosevelt Rough Riders jumped out to a big early lead (it was 22-0 at halftime), the Garfield Bulldogs rallied in the second half. Garfield blanked Roosevelt in the second half and got within 22-19, only to fall short when the Bulldogs' last-second field goal attempt missed wide left.
Comeback #2: The Rough Riders won the Classic for the first time in 10 years. The win was bittersweet, as the school lost beloved former assistant coach Richard “Dickie” Guillen to COVID-19 earlier this year.
The Roosevelt players have a favorite phrase of Guillen's emblazoned on their helmets: “All work, no glory.”
Comeback #3: The Classic has been played since 1925. Think about how much the city has changed since then — and think of the remarkable consistency of this one high school football matchup.
Because of the pandemic, the game was cancelled last year for the first time since World War II. The coronavirus devastated both working-class communities of East L.A. and Boyle Heights. Yet there they were on Friday, more than a year-and-a-half into a pandemic, the East Los Angeles College stadium filled with vaccinated or COVID-negative tested fans, cheering, dancing, and on the edge of their seats. When delirious Roosevelt fans poured onto the field after the final whistle, it felt like Los Angeles was back.
Below are a few more snapshots from another classic game in this storied rivalry.