The East Los Angeles Classic

It’s that time of the year again, grab your blankets, put on your schools colors and make your way to East Los Angeles College this Friday for the 74th Annual East Los Angeles Classic. 74 freaking years !!!!! It astounds me that Roosevelt and Garfield have been going at it on the football field for that long. For seniors at both schools, this is THE GAME to win. Last year Garfield lost after beating the Rough Riders two years in a row. You can almost literally feel the electricity in the air from both the players and the fans.

74 th Annual East Los Angeles Classic

Friday, November 14, 2008
East Los Angeles College
Frosh/Soph Game: 4:00 PM – Varsity Game: 7:30 PM


$12 General Admission

$10 Presale to Students ONLY

Children Under 3 Free

Here’s some history straight from my alma-maters web site, 

It has been said that this is the oldest and largest high school football rivalries west of the Mississippi and definitely in the state of California.  Annual attendance reaches 20,000 spectators at East Los Angeles College.  Visitors to the game often note that the evening takes on a life of its own.  The evening is more than a football game.  It is often seen as a family reunion spanning several generations.  It is not unusual for spectators from both schools to attend to meet with old friends and family members. 

The game, although important for the final score which gives bragging rights to the winning team for a year, offers everyone a chance to step back into the past, and relive some of their high school memories.  This is afforded them because the rich traditions established over 84 years ago, have not changed. (You may note the discrepancy between a rivalry that spans 84 years and this is only the 74th meeting.  Ten years were lost due to World War II where the game was not played)  

What traditions?  This is probably one of the only double homecoming events in the state, let alone the nation.  King, Queen, Prince and Princess from each school are crowned during a ceremony that precedes the Varsity game. Everything counts on this evening.  There is competition between the drum majors for the bands for their skill in tossing the baton.  There is the battle of the marching bands, the drill teams, the dance teams, the cheerleaders, the leadership councils, and of course the mascots. 

In the end, there are never any major incidents.  This is what the community expects.  Good clean competition that displays the best qualities of a group of people proud of their traditions and heritage.  Because of the proximity of the two schools, many of the spectators and participants live next to each other.  Many have even married which often makes the choice of where to sit, Garfield or Roosevelt, a matter for debate.  Some families with multiple children have even chosen to sit on opposite sides with one child each.  In the end we are one family, one community, with a very special event to help tie the generations together. 

I’m going to be at the game doing my thing and taking pics from the sidelines. Till then enjoy the story I wrote about the Classic last year for the ELAC news paper. I may not be a sports writer, but there’s more than one way to milk a goat. 

Circa East Los Angeles Campus News November 7, 2007 

The Roosevelt High Rough Riders defeated the Garfield High Bulldogs 23 to 15 in the varsity game while the Garfield sophomores defeated the Roughriders 29 to 14 at the 73rd East Los Angeles Classic.

After losing the last two meetings to Garfield, Roosevelt football players and fans returned to Weingart Stadium ready for some payback. 

With generations of family both young and old attending the historic match up, the rivalry between these two schools is as strong as ever. 

A Roosevelt alumni, and one time coach for both schools, Al Padilla says the rivalries origins can be traced to inter-marriage between families, “You come to this game and the mother would be sitting on the Garfield side and the father would be sitting on the Roosevelt side while their kids are out in the field going at it,” said Padilla. 

“Stevenson and Belvedere feed the schools. A lot of these kids went to the same junior high and then had to be split when they went on to high school.” 

Former alumnae like Yolanda Ruisen, who was in Roosevelt’s graduating class of 1968, says she has two nephews playing for Garfield and that they always make fun of each other and poke fun all in good spirit. 

However, when she was a cheerleader she recalls the bus being pummeled with bottles and rocks as they tried to enter or leave the stadium.  

Fourteen district council member Jose Huizar was at the game as a fan but was also there to give scholarships to the top two academic students from both schools in the sum of $500. 

Huizar has been giving away the scholarships for the last fours years, 

 “[The scholarships] are given to students showing promise to return to their community and give something back,” said Huizar. 

Huizar himself has been coming to the games since a child supporting his older brothers and sisters who were either in the band or on the football team and said that while the rivalry remains as strong as ever, the violence has faded. “I remember coming as a young boy you’d see gang fights outside in the streets. 

Thankfully this game has gotten to a level that’s showing on a competitive level our community and schools pride in a positive way.” 

Luis Cortez who was  a Roughrider senior in 2002 said that now that the classic has returned to ELAC after being moved from L.A. Coliseum, the fans and players become more involved in the game, “The intensity of the game brings it out of the [players] and the fans get into it,” said Cortez.

“You can hear more of the fans, it’s really close [compared to the coliseum]. I would have loved to play here as a senior.” 

Before the game, Cortez gave players a pep talk about the game saying, “As long as you put your heart out on the field, you shouldn’t cry after win or lose.” 

Janine Olmos who was a student at Garfield in1979 has a son, Juan Lopez played in this years game. She also remembers when the rivalry was far more heated than it is now, “ I was a freshmen with the band and as we were driving out, our buses were bombed with bottles and rocks,” said Olmos. 

She said that she’s happy that rivalry isn’t as bad as it use to be. 

She says that now she can, “Watch my son play and see him have a good time out there.” 

The games significance goes beyond the rivalry as both schools crown their home coming kings and queens at the game. Bands, cheerleaders and the flag drill team also had a stake in the game. 

During half time they all faced off dueling each other. 

As one school would take the field the opposite side would fill the stadium with boos and heckling showing that the rivalry is as strong as ever. 

However, it was all in good clean spirit as the community got together to see old friends again and to remember their past as a new generation of students make theirs.

14 thoughts on “The East Los Angeles Classic

  1. Someone should take a poll or survey of the folks at the football game as to how they would define the “Eastside.” I bet none of their answers would include Silver Lake! 😉

  2. Woot! Woot! Roughrider alumni and classic veterano (left tackle) represent.

    My Dad’s a hardcore bulldog and sat on GHS’ side when I played in the classic, now he buys us tickets and I sit with him on the Garfield side. I am actually painting a mural by GHS right now (on 6th & Atl) and wore a RHS shirt I had and got some serious abuse from my students about it.

    Lets hope my Eastlos alma maters can be more respectful than the last Schurr/ Montebello “classic: that ended ina rumble a few weeks ago.

  3. It’s all about the Roughriders. From talking to people and seeing how it was last year there wasn’t any fighting or anyone getting out of hand. Although after the game people where driving around screaming and honking after Roosevelt won.

  4. jc, garfield sells the sweaters from their student store on campus. I just bought 10 of them for my familia for Xmas because they are badass and I got a deal for painting a school mural. I had seen them at dodger games and thought they were just about eastlos, but found out they are ghs sweaters a few months back. As a roughrider/bulldog/spartan I would prefer a sweater with the slogan on the back alone, but they wouldnt do that for me. Cool sweaters though.

  5. I went to the Classic on Friday, ofcourse for Garfiels side and I knew from the start that Bulldogs where going to win, I mean c’mon hehe…the teddy bears aka roughriders,which I find that so ironic where sore loosers, they kept running there mouth as if they won and wanted to be all ghetto wanting to start a fight, I mean you guys lost,there, you know….where winning next year and years to come because Garfield High jocks are the toughest and plainly the BEST =)

  6. Unfortunately, it’s all true. When there were three minutes left in the game, people started throwing bottles and sodas at each on the Roosevelt side. I’m ashamed of my school and the damn mocosos ruining the game and acting, well like dumb teenagers.

  7. I’m a Roosevelt grad, but only went to one game: 1989, when Roosevelt lost after their running back got stopped at the one yard line on a last second play. The quarterback heaved a bomb just to get them there.

    The running back, I heard, took his own life some years later (I don’t have any reason to believe it had anything to do with the game; he obviously had other problems, I guess). It was a great game, and he in fact had a great game.

    After the game we went to The Hat, and miraculously, no brawls broke out. The girl I went with was driving though, and I thought we were going to die cause she drove like she was Mr. Magoo. It wasn’t even a date per se, so it would have especialy sucked if I had died.

    By the way, only in the Eastside (and by that I mean East of the L.A. River, from Lincoln Heights and Boyle Heights east), can you win with quarterbacks the size of Herve Villachaize. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  8. damn straight there’s nothing wrong with that. There’s also nothing wrong with having girls play on the team either. The only thing that sucked is that they dressed up for the game and the coaches didn’t put them in.

  9. Even back when I was at Garfield, I remember the coaches commenting on the fact that our players were all these short little guys and just a few miles away, other schools like Bell had all these big tall college sized looking players. Must be something in the water.

  10. Well, our Rough Riders took the trophy home this year, beating Garfield 28-16. It was a great game and a great evening. Congrats to both schools for not getting out of hand, the way a few knuckleheads on each side did last year. And congrats to the RHS drum majors for not dropping their batons. I was an RHS drum major for the 1982 Classic and I know how much pressure these guys were under to perform well. Hope you all enjoyed the 3rd quarter performance of the Rough Rider Alumni Band. We worked hard the entire season to put on a good show for you all. If you were a member (in good standing) of the RHS marching band for at least one season, and you graduated from RHS, you can join us. Visit our website at Ride On!!

  11. Wow, I guess this is what happens when you cut the budget at an inner city school. All these champions of the public school system are happy that no fights broke out. What a great accomplishment. It’s amazing how low your expectations can be for your own people. What a shame. Thanks for setting us back another 10 years.

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