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Garfield-Roosevelt classic embraces Eastside unity

There are many high school football rivalries around the nation, but few measure up to the East Los Angeles Classic, the annual game pitting Eastside rivals Garfield and Roosevelt.

The game is scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct. 28 at East Los Angeles College, but the highlights leading up to the kickoff are what makes the game special.

The two schools, with a long history in the Los Angeles Unified School District, have so much in common that a first-time L.A. visitor would probably think it was one school.

The dividing lines are blurred in a friendly way. Families have attended either Garfield or Roosevelt, some living in the same household. Students’ rooms are often draped with red-white-and-blue (Garfield) or red-and-gold (Roosevelt) memorabilia. It’s common for parents to have a Garfield T-shirt and a Roosevelt button to represent family allegiances.

Those who are on the football teams probably make it more interesting. There are some residential areas that have the opposing players living on the same street, yet they grew up together attending the same elementary and middle schools.

There are also alumni-themed luncheons, dinners, meet-and-greet events and even a press conference for the local media to introduce members from both squads. Social media followers add spice to the community airwaves.

Pageantry aside, the game, which usually attracts between 15,000-20,000 fans, is the centerpiece for Garfield (3-5) and Roosevelt (4-4). Fittingly, it’s a homecoming game for both.

Garfield, coached by Lorenzo Hernandez, is led by Adam Polanco, Moses Gonzalez, Peter Jason Garcia, Bruce Gonzalez, Jalen Lawrence and Nicholas Delgadillo. The Bulldogs, 2-1 in the Eastern League, are trying to stay alive in the City Section Division 1 playoff hunt.

Roosevelt, coached by Ricardo Zepeda, has cooled off after a fast 4-1 start earlier this season. Despite an 0-3 Eastern League record, which probably will keep them out of the playoff picture, the Rough Riders are hoping to spoil Garfield’s postseason plans. Roosevelt’s Raymond Reynoso, Frankie Cruz, Santos Rivera and Miguel Montero are standout players.

The Playoff Picture

With two weeks remaining in the regular season, here is a list of local ootball teams that are competing for a league title, a share of one, or at least a playoff berth.

In the L.A. City Section, teams stiil in consideration include Narbonne, Crenshaw, Animo Robinson, South Gate, Carson, Banning, Venice, Fairfax, Jefferson, Dorsey, Westchester, Eagle Rock, Huntington Park, View Park, Belmont, Hollywood, Santee, Locke, Torres, Contreras, Jordan, Marshall, Bernstein and Fremont.

In the Southern Section, St. John Bosco, Cathedral, Serra, Schurr, Loyola, Culver City, Lawndale, Norwalk, Leuzinger, Montebello, Bell Gardens, Paramount, Downey, Santa Fe and La Serna are on the inside track for the playoffs at this point.

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