Bell High School football team tries to rise above city's scandals
Just before kickoff, the players gathered around Anthony Mendoza, a senior linebacker who broke his leg in a game earlier in the season.
"For the next 48 minutes," Mendoza shouted, pounding his crutches as exclamation points, "I want nothing but all-out game! Until your wheels fall off! Until these lights go out!"
Down in the locker room, as the clacking of cleats on concrete died down, Coach Frank Medina pointed to a whiteboard with one word on it: "Playoffs." A win would keep their season alive; a loss would end it. The coach took the low-key approach: "Make something happen tonight, gentlemen," he said.
Pre-game speeches are as American as Friday night football. But those calls to arms earlier this month carried particular resonance: The Bell High School Eagles have had the bad fortune this season to represent a community whose name has become synonymous with greed and corruption.
Read more: "In Bell, a whole different game."
-- Baxter Holmes
Photo: Bell High School varsity lineman Christian Pineda tries to boost team morale during halftime of a game against cross-town rival Huntington Park on Nov. 5, 2010. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times