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Football: What makes the Garfield-Roosevelt rivalry so special?


A little over a month ago, I asked everyone in the blogosphere what was the Southland's greatest rivalry. Some people accused me of asking a dumb question. And I'll admit I had an obvious answer in mind, because how could anything top the annual East Los Angeles Classic?

Some folks might think playing for smudge pots or leather helmets is great, but the storied rivalry between Garfield and Roosevelt is arguably one of the nation's greatest high school events. The game typically draws about 20,000 fans (about twice as much as Servite-Mater Dei), pitting neighbor against neighbor in a community that shares an unbreakable bond with its respective team.

But I want you to tell me why this rivalry is so great. Is it the history, the community or just great football? I'll be heading out to East Los Angeles College on Nov. 14, and I want to get a feeling as to what this game means to people who've actually been apart of it. Free feel to use the comment board to post your thoughts.

Also, who's the favorite to win this game? Roosevelt leads the all-time series (39-28-6) and proved its definitely one of the City Section's best with its upset over Jordan a couple of weeks back. Of course, Garfield's season-opening triumph over two-time defending champions Birmingham was very impressive.

I'll leave you with some video highlights of the 2006 game:

-- Austin Knoblauch

Photo: Roosevelt's Norman Watters evades a couple of Garfield defenders during the Roughriders' 41-0 victory in November 2000. Credit: Anacleto Rapping / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (25)

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I am a proud Rough Rider. And I love this rivalry because i think that it helps us want to prove the top of our game, the true potential of our pride. We may have lost this year but i can proudly say that i am a Rough Rider for life. This school has give me so many memories i will cherish for life.

Miguel Quintero

Good Morning...I need your help. I'm going on a Carnival Cruise this Sunday. Unfortunately, for me...It will be my First Classic Game I miss in 25 years. I would like to know If the game on Nov. 5th, will be televised. I contacted iBNSports via e mail, but I have not received a reply. I really need your help...Can you please tell me what Channel?

Thank you so, so much for your time and understanding...


I've been to these games and I never went to Garfield or Roosevelt. It's definitely something in the air between those two schools. I say the greatest in the nation. I watched others from around America on YOUTUBE none come close.


I just want to know as to who won the
Garfield/Roosevelt game????


the east la classic...there is nothing like it!!!
many who are not exactly familiar with our classic..might think that it's just a football game and might say "the teams aren't even that great anyway"...well that's where they are wrong...the east la classic is so much more than's the final product of a community's entire season of hard work...blood, sweat, and tears...i was lucky enough to take part in that great tradition for two years as a proud member of the Roosevelt Marching Riders...and there is no feeling like it...working all season, the late night practices leading up to the game, entering the stadium, supporting your team...and when it's half time for the band it is GAME TIME!!! standing in the middle of the field with 20,000 screaming fans before your very eyes...your heart pounding at a thousand miles an hour...and all i was able to do is pound my drum great as i can and deliver a killer performance to make my fellow Rough Riders proud...just like a theatrical performance, the cheerleaders, drill, marching bands, and footballs teams prepare all season...just for you!!! it is an unforgettable that once you have experiences, will remain for the rest of your Rough Riders say :"We Ride Til We Die!"

Alfredo Castro

The Super Bowl Game of all High school. For most High school football player high school is the end of our football career... That is why it so special to play The East Los Angeles Classic Football Game. Can you Images playing in front of 26,000 who came to see you “quote by The Los Angeles Times sport page in 1978, That East Los Angeles Classic football Roosevelt Vs Garfield the oldest and largest high school football rivalries west of the Mississippi and definitely in the state of California.
My name Alfredo Castro Class of 1979 say I walk the walk, and play the game for both school, First year as sophomore at Garfield High School, than making the big change of a life time by transferring to Roosevelt high for my Junior and Senior year with all my neighborhood friends. Yes I’m a Rough Rider for life.
Let me take down the road. You play for your Family, community, friend, and for yourself as player.

It Friday night, last game of the year and your life time. Knowing that you have prepared all your best for what is going to be My Super Bowl Game.

Well resting at home after Light per-game great Homemade Mexican meal and Just packing up my game bag. The countdown is getting closer to game time. With my best suite on looking like pro-player football player were on the school bus with a police escort pulling in to an over pack stadium of 26,000 fans. It time suite up in our football gear which look like USC type uniform.Where starting to getting fire up in the locker room Which under the stadium ,and all you hearing are fans cheering. Now we start the walk of a life time that only a few special players will ever experience. Stop yes stop our team is so fire up and coming down the long dark hallway under the stadium were the hall way tee off to enter the stadium, Roosevelt Rough Rider see, smell, hear the Garfield Bulldog’s Oh my god it seem that wear about to get it on right there. Yes a security night mare The Garfield bulldogs wear so scared they got quit, well hearing the Roosevelt Rough Rider say “Big Bad Red machine don’t take no shits”. We shot out in the stadium with 26,000 fans running on to the field well it seem, like if I’m walking on water and about to make my history. The Game got started with me I’m the first team offence center for the Rough Rider and it seem for a time, that I could not hear the quterback count because of all the nosie. Well the hits on the field got tough because it was to be our last game of life time. Before you know it, we score the fans in the stadium go crazy. As senior player we ended up beating down the Bulldogs all night long to win 16-0. With last second sag in the end zone which was call back because, they said the game time end hell right. Well I hope to all past and present players, I hope you can walk in my shoes. Now 30th year later it still seem like it was this past Friday night.
Well I still run into pass Garfield player who I played against in my town small town outside of Los Angeles Ca, which is Chino Hills, Ca. I tell my son look, here coming a past Bulldog player with their head down low knowing he lost the game of life time to me and he has to said hello knowing that he will never in his life time, be a East Los Angles Classic Champion for the year 1978 Because it belong to me and my team mate. Now it coming all around once again. With my son coming soon to play under the Friday night light.

Best wishes to all the Past and present
Super Bowl Champion of
The East Los Angeles Classic Football game.

Alfredo Castro


Wow, this game certainly is everything that's already been said by other posters here. Everything at this game is just taken to another level. The roar of the crowed is just so amazing. Former marching band members tell me that they would just continue playing their instruments and hoping you were in sync with the rest of the band because you couldn't hear anything but the fans screaming and yelling. The pressure the drum majors go through must be hell. 10,000 people yelling for you to catch the baton and 10,000 opposing fans hoping you'll drop it. It's a mad house.

Throw the records out the window for this game. One year I remember my Riders going into the classic win-less and Garfield was undefeated. I went for pride and support because I had no hope of really winning this one. To much surprise and excitement of all the Rider fans, the Mighty Riders of Roosevelt High prevailed! winning the game 7-0 leaving the Garfield fans in total shock. It seriously was the upset of the decade in this rivalry.

I'll be there this Friday wearing my school colors with pride and cheering our football team every single down. I'll be looking out for old friends who now attend with their children or are there cheering on their children who now are football team members or members of the band, drill team or cheerleaders. Even though I've moved out of the old neighborhood, my heart will always be in East Los Angeles.

See everyone Friday night. GO MIGHTY RIDERS!


I have seen and been to other rivalry games. Those games are great but they do not have that something extra, that something special.None of those games has what the East Los Angeles Classic has. It is a game that divides the community. Neighbors and sometimes families set the battle lines for the week. My family included, we have cousins that went and go to garfield (i feel sorry for them) and this week there is sh.. that is talked. My childhood friends all went to garfield and during the week its a sh.. talking all week and for the winner the whole year. When I played for RHS and them for ghs it was the same way. IT is something that is bigger than you. You feel that you are part of something special and something that you will never forget. It is pride that is passed down through the generations. Now that I have a son, I want him to feel that Rider pride. Go Riders

BIg Albert

Wow!! It's time for the Classic one’s again. This is the biggest game way before you even go to the game! It all starts with that week before the Game. Spirit Week! All week long you have this energy spirit inside you carry the hole week. Talking trash to your friends who go to the rival school. Before the game even starts and walk into the East Los Angeles College Stadium you are ready to release your cheer for your school. You hear your school marching band playing and hearing your cheerleaders chanting. You see your team rushing on to the field and now you are screaming your lungs out. It’s game time baby! When the 1st half is over, it s time for the battle of the bands. The pressure of the drum major for your school on the middle of the field tossing up the baton high in the sky and trying not to drop it. Success! The marching band marches on the field and performs for you. Now its time for the rival marching band. Hopping that the drum major drops the baton. 2nd half of football begins where it left off. Final seconds of the game and when its all said and done. When your school wins that big game, you have the feeling to celebrate the night away! Calling your rival friends and brag to them about the game. When people says its just a game. It’s more than that. Its’ Bragging rights for the hole year. Its Pride, Honor and Tradition of the East Los Angeles Classic! Let’s go ROOSEVELT ROUGH RIDERS and let’s WIN!!!!!


You can throw out the records when these 2 schools collide. I'll be on the Riders' side proudly wearing my gear and catching up with old friends, the wife, she'll be on the losing side, the kids, they're undecided, but they ove attending these games even though they didnt attend either of the schools. This is not only a game and community event, it is a reunion of sorts with poeple coming from all over the country to show their school pride and catch up with old friends and rivals as well. GO RIDERS!!!


Hello Everyone

The Roosevelt vs Garfield Game "East LA Classic"..a game of pride , history in the making and family Rivalry.

I have traveled through out this Country and as I am asked wher I come from and wher did I grow answer is East Los Angeles "Boyle Heights" and in my travels I have found many people that are aware of ..Our game , our communty and know of people that grew up in our community and of course the famouse Roosevelt vs garfield Game...

Nothing compares , in our community its about the pride , the family, thre friendships,and the neverending History of our schools and our community.

many people that come from all over the country to witness and feel the excitement of just being their. families that have moved away and kids and grandkids and great grandkids of former alumni..attend these games..and they never attended these schools..its part of the community and culture that surrounds these rivals.

many of us have families thats for many years attended these schools in large numbers, many of us had the same teachers and married or dated our rivals...its pride it history its THE EAST LA CLASSIC.


Hey, the Classic is really important. And i should know.

I was the Drum Major for RHS Marching Band 07-08.
And all year we look forward to this. Especially the drum majors out there. Showing there best. Its a lot of excitement. And i hope the best for the two schools. Especially the bands.
Look for me out there. This year i will be conducting the halftime show at the Classic

William G.

Hi Greg, I want to invite you to this Rivarly Game EAST L.A. CLASSIC, you better get there early because they will close it at full capacity which is over 22K-25k , Just to witness it live, so you can judge after you've seen the two teams go at it.. without a doubt its the best /biggest Rivarly Game West of the Missippi River and possible the best in the Nation. GO RIDERS!! CITY CHAMPS BACK TO BACK 84'85' Keep the Dreams / Traditon Alive and Thrive. You Can Ask Mike Garrett USC Athlete Director Former Heisman Winner How Big this Rivarly Is.. The GAME WILL BE SEEN ON TV AND SPONSERED BY NIKE 5Days Til FRiday 5D2F AWESOME..


Raiders vs Chargers
Garfield vs Looservelt

Nuff Said!


Al is right on the mark with those comments. When you have people in their Forties,Fifties,Sixties,and Seventies and so forth still to this day talking about the Rivalry between these two schools, You Know that it's Big. I've met so many people from different states, at different venues and games and the first thing they say after you tell them you grew up in East LA is "Did you go to Roosevelt or Garfield?". Well I'm a proud Rough Rider Class of '84. No other High School game can divide a community, a family, a marriage, or a friendship for a day or two like this game does. A "Classic?", you bet your B... it is!!

East L.A

Another Classic....!!


Are you kidding me? Servite/Anaheim? Little is at stake in that game. Once in a while first place. But will it divide an entire household over which team to root for? So many middle schools get divided between attending Roosevelt or Barfield..err Garfield. Child hood friends soon are torn apart and move on with High School yet keep in touch and end up marrying one another. Thus creating some tension in the latter part of October or early Novemember. It doesn't matter what the records are. Those books are thrown out the window for this game. You won't see a better rivalry than this one. When media outlets from all over L.A. cover it, you know there is no better. Have KIIS FM, KPWR FM, KTTV, KTLA, KROQ ever covered Servite games? Enough said!
Lets roll Riders kick those Barfield Bullfrogs in the rear and prove why we are the best there was, the best there is, and the best there ever will be. Rider Pride 4 Life.


GO Riders..........

Robert Rodriguez

this will be an exciting game to watch. The Eastern League Championship may be on the line.


The game became known asThe Classic thanks to the late Garfield high school coach Vic Loya , and Roosevelt high coach Al Chavez two legendary EasSide compadres and Alumni. If it were not for the fire department the attendance would be around 27,000-30,000

Austin Knoblauch


You're right -- when Mater Dei and Servite play at Anaheim Stadium, they draw really big crowds. However, historically, most of their meetings haven't been at Anaheim Stadium.

A lot of the games have been played at Cal State Fullerton (like this year's game after the Angels' postseason schedule conflicted with it) or the Santa Ana Bowl. Fullerton holds 10,000 fans, the Santa Ana Bowl holds less than 9,000.

So, historically, Garfield-Roosevelt, which has drawn consistently between 20,000-25,000 fans every year at ELA College since the 60s, has drawn close to twice as many fans. However, that was not the case in 2006 and 2007.

But if Mater Dei-Servite keep playing at Anaheim Stadium like they're trying to do now, they'll definitely be on par with Garfield-Roosevelt.

Thanks for reading.


East Los.....


No. Just a bit of truth from a Valley guy about the number of folks attending games. Accuracy should be a hallmark of the LA Times & Throwaway Sports Dept.


Getting a little defensive there aren't we Greg?


FYI - When Servite and Mater Dei play at Angel Stadium, they draw more than 20,000 (I was at the last two games played there). Besides, how many stadia in SoCal hold more than 15,000 people for a high school football game?


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