(Boyle Heights/East Los Angeles, CA) [From The Editor’s Desk]: The Roosevelt Rough Riders continue on with their undefeated pre-season as they outlasted in dominant ways, the Crenshaw Cougars, and in doing so, racked up their third consecutive road win. This may move them up in the So Cal Prep Sports rankings, as well as the CA State Rankings from #475 to down to #375.
As though the current heatwave wasn’t enough for everyone to tolerate, the rest of the 100° hottest day of the year still had our City coping with newer ways to find relief. As game time approached it was still in the lower 80s. But, that was not going to stop the L.A. City Section from postponing or cancelling any scheduled games on this eve of the Labor Day Holiday weekend. It was a great, but extremely hot Thursday Night match-up as the L.A. City Section’s non-conference games continued to unfold.
And once again, the Riders earned more respect from their City Section opponents and piled up more mileage on their third bus ride in as many weeks to another school within the LAUSD.
[1st Half]: The game began with an immediate shock for Roosevelt as the Cougars took the opening kickoff for a 62 yard touchdown return. The runner evaded at least 7 defenders on his way for the score. The 2-point attempt was unsuccessful. The Riders were shocked and in a hole within moments, Crenshaw 6, Riders 0.
The Riders then received the kickoff and just as quickly, responded to Crenshaw’s score, when #5 Jared Andrade ripped a 59 yard touchdown down the middle to tie it up. The 2-point conversion was good as #8 Johan Alfaro walked in to put Roosevelt up 8-6.
The Riders defense held Crenshaw and then took the second possession for an 8-play drive that included a 52 yard pass from #3 Naszeer Reed to Andrade. That was followed up and then capped with a one yard run by #10 QB Isaac Huerta. The 2- point conversion was successful as Alfaro walked it in again.The score at the end of the first period, Roosevelt 18 – Crenshaw 6.
In the second quarter, the Cougars still had a lot of fight as they took the next kick-off and put a 7-play drive of their own and scored a 5 yard touchdown off tackle on a power run. On the 2-point try, Crenshaw tried a naked bootleg but was unsuccessful, moving the score to Roosevelt 18, Crenshaw 12.
The Rough Riders came back with a 9-play 62 yard drive with big runs by senior wingback Reed. His 10 yard reverse run resulted in a touchdown. The 2-point try was successful when QB/Huerta called his number and punched it in behind the Rider offensive line. Roosevelt 24- Crenshaw 12.
The Cougars received the kickoff and marched down the field. Their 66 yard drive ended when their QB threw a beautiful 28 yard strike into the corner of the end zone for the score. The Cougars took to their power set and but failed to convert. The scoreboard now read, Roosevelt 24- Crenshaw 18.
On the ensuing change of possession and with just moments to go in the half, Roosevelt fumbled the ball away in its own red zone. The Cougars recovered and capitalized within two plays on a rollout pass to the corner for another touchdown to end the half,
[Halftime Score]: Roosevelt 24 Crenshaw 24.
[2nd Half]: The temperature may have dropped a few degrees during the first half, but the gauge on the Riders scale, still read HOT. And that’s what happened to start the 3rd quarter. It proved to be wilder than the first two as the Riders offense continued its dominance and the defense woke up after some key adjustments. Crenshaw would have limited success as the Riders just shut down Crenshaw.
A 65 yard power sweep by Alfaro capped a 96 yard drive. The Riders added the 2-point conversion by Reed which boosted the score to Roosevelt 32 -Crenshaw 24.
To open the 4th quarter, a botched punt by the Cougars gave the Riders the ball on the Cougars 6 yard line. After several penalties, Reed nicely connected with Alfaro on an 11 yard touchdown pass. The 2-point try was good when Alfaro converted. The score was now Roosevelt 40, Crenshaw 24. On their next drive Crenshaw scored on a 2-yard touchdown pass but once more failed on their 2-point try. The Riders lead went back up by 10, Roosevelt 40-Crenshaw 30.
With growing confidence, Alfaro exploded for a 60 yard touchdown on the Riders’ next possession leaving several Cougars in his wake. The 2-point try was good by #9 Alejandro Arroyo, as the score climbed to Riders 48-Crenshaw 30.
After their kick-off, Roosevelt’s defense held and forced a punt. On the very next play Andrade, sprinted to the house as he added another long, 61 yard touchdown to his season stats. The 2-point try by Alfaro was good as he simply could not be touched. Scoreboard now read, Roosevelt 56-Crenshaw 30.
A this point in the game, Coach Parral and his Coaching Staff made their decision to insert their younger Rider reserves to get even more valuable non-conference/pre-season experience. Their defensive unit shut down Crenshaw, and after a punt, the Rough Riders marched down the field and sophomore wingback, #2, Alan Ortiz, took the toss-back for 35 yards down the sideline for a score.
With time running down in the game, and after a final score by the Cougars, that closed-out the game, as the scoreboard then converted to these all-too familiar numbers, 00:00.
[Final Score]: Roosevelt 62 Crenshaw 38
On game preparation…
“ Going on the road may be difficult for some folks, but I honestly enjoy it. I like that the staff and I do not have to chalk up the field, that’s for sure. But, our biggest concern was Crenshaw’s athleticism. Although they are low in numbers, about 24 players, they are rich in talent. The axiom that speed kills definitely played true tonight. Coach Garrett is an institution in the Crenshaw community and we knew he would have his boys prepared. They played us tough last season at our house and the game was decided on the final play of the game. We expected a tough opponent and sure enough, that is who we saw in the first half.”
On Crenshaw’s explosiveness...
“Well, we knew they would be explosive and we know we have some explosive players as well. I did not want to get into a track meet with Crenshaw because that is not our strength. Luckily, our team was able to keep up and even better the Cougars tonight.”
On Half-time adjustments...
“The3 defense made some key adjustments in the second half. For example, we had some confusion on assignments and there was clarification given as to what those assignments would be. But honestly, the key adjustment was simply the players just settling down and playing good, sound football. We did and it showed in the second half as we regularly forced Crenshaw to punt.
Offensively, we adjusted to who needed to be blocked. Since Crenshaw loaded the box, I think they had at least 9 players every play, and sometimes even as many as 11, although it felt like 12 or 13. Either way, we cleared up how we would block it and just went with it. The kids responded well and I think it was a wakeup call for these young men. You may be good, but if you make mistakes, it is not going to be a pleasant bus ride home.”
On next season’s scheduling...
“Yes, we definitely would like to reach out to some schools in the Southern Section and expose the kids to other communities. The key for our staff is making sure the kids see speed. There is no substitute for speed and it is what we will see in the playoffs. Our league is pretty disciplined and well coached by and large. But team speed is not something we see much of during league play. I will definitely schedule at least one non-city opponent or maybe two. Not sure if we are ready for the Big 5 type schools like the Mater-Dei’s or Bosco’s, but we’ll look at some schools that can benefit our program. But I definitely see us playing a school that is close to home as well, so that we generate that community interest and hopefully fill the stands.”