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ERIC SONDHEIMER / ON HIGH SCHOOLS

East L.A. Classic gives Garfield back something to talk about

Ty'Jon Delancy likes to run the ball, and his mouth. He can do both Friday night in L.A.'s biggest rivalry game against Roosevelt, whose Chris Campos will be carrying on a family tradition.

October 31, 2013|Eric Sondheimer

For a high school football player to walk onto a field with more than 20,000 passionate fans cheering and yelling for school and community pride is something Ty'Jon Delancy of Los Angeles Garfield can't wait to experience on Friday night in the 79th installment of the East L.A. Classic at East Los Angeles College.

"It's amazing," he said. "It's one of a kind. When you go out there, it's like, 'Whoa.' "

Where else can someone 5 foot 6, 156 pounds have one night where he could be the star in a football game against rival Los Angeles Roosevelt?

"Everybody is excited — teachers, the principal. It's the best week of practice," he said.

Delancy is perfectly positioned to take advantage. He's known for being a nonstop talker.

"It's something I like to do," he said.

He also has done well running the ball, having gained 1,190 yards and scored 17 touchdowns.

"His motor is as fast as his mouth," Coach Lorenzo Hernandez said. "The only way I get him to stop talking is if I feed him something."

Delancy was a slot receiver in last year's game, but to be the starting running back in the biggest rivalry game in Los Angeles is something he's going to cherish.

"I've been pushing myself," he said. "I told myself when I get the chance, I have to make something happen."

Sophomore quarterback Ausencio Navarro of Garfield will be playing in his first Roosevelt game.

"I can't compare this to anything I've done," he said. "It will be like playing in a college game. Teammates are telling me to take it like any game. It's going to be an eye-opener for me."

To understand the significance of the game, look at the story of Roosevelt senior linebacker Chris Campos. His grandfather, father and two uncles played in the game. All wore uniform No. 30, and that's what Campos will be wearing.

"We're going to do our best and leave it out on the field," Campos said. "That's all you can ask."

Campos attended La Puente Bishop Amat as a freshman before transferring to Roosevelt for financial reasons. He credits Coach Javier Cid for being a huge influence on his life.

"I wasn't even sure about playing my sophomore year," he said. "Coach Cid said, 'Give it a shot, you have the talent, you have the brain, you can do it.' I never thought of school so highly until he brought to my attention what school and education can get you in life."

Campos had 16 tackles in a win over Sylmar and has 92 tackles in eight games. More important, during a news conference at East L.A. College on Wednesday, he spoke elegantly about representing his school and the Boyle Heights community.

Hernandez, who has won six times and lost five times in the East L.A. Classic as coach, reminded everyone, "Life is a little bit more than this game when you leave" the stadium.

Of course, as Garfield's student body president, Ana Arellano, said, "The winner acquires bragging rights for a year. That's serious business."

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

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