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Roosevelt Not Surprised by Its Success


The football stands were packed Friday night at Roosevelt High. The overflow crowd spilled onto the dirt track that circles the field.

The defending City Section champion Dorsey Dons were making a visit to the Boyle Heights campus, so while hope may have been in the air, there weren't many true believers in the Rough Riders.

Not even Tony Sanchez's little brother.

"Before the game, he said to me, 'Man, you guys are going to lose,' " said Sanchez, a Roosevelt linebacker. "He wasn't going to go to the game at first because he didn't think we'd win."

Roosevelt has a few more believers this week. The Rough Riders sent their fans into a frenzy and sent shockwaves through the rest of the section with a 29-21 victory.

"Guys were shooting skyrockets outside the school," Roosevelt's standout running back Jody Adewale said.

Coach Jose Casagran said he was driving around the neighborhood Saturday night and saw people wearing Roosevelt football jerseys. On their return to class Monday, the players were treated as if they were celebrities.

"I was stopped by about 50 people before I got to class," said Sanchez, the team's defensive leader.

Defeating Dorsey may have surprised everyone else, but not the players. The last two meetings were decided by a total of 11 points and the Dons needed a late touchdown each time to avoid an upset.

Casagran helped bring his team down to earth when he pointed out mistakes during the film session Monday afternoon.

On Friday, the Rough Riders play an intersectional game at Santa Fe Springs St. Paul. The Swordsmen are only 1-2-1 but are coming off a 21-7 victory over Wilmington Banning.

"We've always been this close to beating one of the top teams," said Adewale, who rushed for 116 yards and two touchdowns against Dorsey. "[The victory over Dorsey is] a little bonus. It puts us on the map, but we haven't proved anything yet."

Said Sanchez: "We know every time out, every team is going to come at us with their 'A' game."

This is the attitude Casagran has cultivated in five years as Roosevelt's coach after coming from archrival Garfield, where he was an assistant to current Carson Coach John Aguirre.

Casagran always believed Roosevelt could be more than only the best team in East Los Angeles.

"When we went to the [Invitational] final two years ago, we made the kids realize that there is life beyond the Classic," said Casagran, referring to the annual Garfield-Roosevelt game. "Obviously that's a big game and we want to win, but that isn't the only game.

"Two years ago, we had won our final game and everyone thought we were going to the [Championship] playoffs. The players were crushed to be put back in [the Invitational]. That was when I knew we had turned the corner."

Roosevelt, Fremont and Taft are the only teams in the section with 4-0 records.


Westchester won its Western League opener Friday in dramatic--and controversial--fashion when Wallace Hightower ran in a two-point conversion in double overtime to defeat Fairfax, 22-20.

Hightower was attempting an extra-point kick after the Comets scored a touchdown to tie the score, 20-20. The kick was low and bounced off an offensive lineman. The senior grabbed the ball out of the air and went around the left side to score.

Fairfax Coach Shane Cox said the play should have been blown dead.

"The field goal and try rules are two different things," Cox said. "A field goal is a numbered and defined play. As soon as Hightower kicked the ball into the lineman, it should have been blown dead right there."

He's right. According to the National Federation of State High School Assns.' football rulebook, a point-after try ends when "it is apparent a drop kick or place kick will not score."

Cox filed an appeal on Tuesday with the City Section, but section administrator Jeff Halpern said his organization does not have the authority to overturn a referee's decision.

"The national high school football rules specifically say that you cannot protest the ruling of a judgment call on the field," Halpern said. "[Otherwise,] we would be very busy with this type of stuff every week."

Halpern said it would be up to the schools involved if they wanted to resume the game from the point of the kick.

Westchester Athletic Director Brian Henderson said it is unlikely the contest will be resumed.

"There's a human factor involved and the officials made an error," Henderson said. "I just don't think it's worth it to go over there for a [kick] attempt."


When has Sylmar lost three games in a season on its own field?

Jeff Engilman can't remember and he has been the Spartans' coach for the last 16 years.

Sylmar is 2-2, having picked up a victory because of Dorsey's forfeit. But the Spartans have lost to visiting L.A. Jordan and North Hollywood on consecutive Fridays, and the problem is clear, at least to Engilman.

"Defensively, we're having problems," he said. "Big plays are just killing us."

On Friday, Sylmar plays a nonleague game at Chatsworth (2-2), which is coming off a 48-26 loss to Gardena.

"I would like to see us pick up some momentum," Engilman said.

"Chatsworth poses a lot of problems for us because they can throw the ball so well. Jason Moss is rusty [after sitting out the first two games of the season because of grades] but he'll probably go off against us."

Engilman had threatened to file a protest to the section regarding the officiating in his team's loss to Jordan. He decided against it, but he didn't give the referees very high marks.

"We just don't want those same officials at our future games," he said. "It's a shame when you have guys work their behinds off all week and then a guy who's a part-time official comes in and ruins it for them."


City top 10: 1. Taft (4-0); 2. Fremont (4-0); 3. Birmingham (2-2); 4. Carson (3-1); 5. Roosevelt (4-0); 6. Gardena (3-1); 7. Crenshaw (2-2); 8. Banning (2-2); 9. Jordan (3-1); 10. Venice (3-1).

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