With shimmering red and gold on one side and sparkling white and blue on the other, over 30,000 filled the LA Coliseum to watch a nearly century-long rivalry take the field once more.
This night was different though – this was “our Super Bowl”. That’s what will.i.am. made clear on Friday night as he and the Black Eyed Peas took to the field alongside the two rival schools.
“Black and brown, we’re the same thing. We’re bigger than what’s happening in the city right now,” said the 47-year-old Boyle Heights native in reference to the recent City Council controversy. “Today is about us, about culture, community and unity. Our roots run deep for a reason.”
First played in 1925, the East LA Classic and the rivalry between Garfield and Roosevelt High Schools have become a part of Eastside culture and tradition. Family and friends of the football players on the field consistently fill whatever stage the game takes alongside thousands of alumni who flaunt the same colors.
“Even with our rivalry and the stakes on the line every year, there’s still a certain type of love on the field,” says Aldo Parral, the Head Varsity Football Coach at Roosevelt. “The community is out in full force for both sides tonight and we’re excited to see how things turn out.”
Rough Riders took the lead as Roosevelt senior Isaiah Wright scored 8 points in the first quarter of the game. Garfield then brought it back in the second half, with Bulldog Damian Cornejo scoring a touchdown bringing the teams to a tie in the third quarter. With tensions high in the air, Garfield quarterback Damian Cabrera brought a win for East LA, ending the score 16-8.
In between that glory, the Black Eyed Peas lit up the sky with a Halftime show featuring hit songs like “Boom, Boom, Pow” and “RITMO” before heading onto the field alongside student bands, cheerleaders and color guard to end the show with “I Gotta Feeling”.
“Thank you East LA. Thank you Boyle Heights. Thank you Estrada Courts for raising me” said will.i.am. alongside students from both schools. “We are familia.”