by David Winchell
SAN GABRIEL - Local high school teams usually play a 10-game regular season schedule. Most teams will fill the first half of their ‘dance card’ with non-league opponents, but the last half is when they face league challengers and usually, long-time rivals. Gabrielino and Rosemead, two schools separated by less than a mile-and-a-half, have a long history of a storied rivalry that runs quite deep. This year’s version of their matchup was one that will be remembered for a long time. The hard fought defensive ballgame was won by Gabrielino, 13-7, who scored a tie-breaking touchdown with less than 40 seconds remaining.
Rosemead has had their way with Gabrielino in recent years, having been victorious in the last 9 contests, winning those games by an average of over 25 points. Both squads, playing in their third league contest of the year, were coming off losses. Both squads opened Mission Valley League with wins. Gabrielino also had their 6-game win streak stopped a week earlier by South El Monte, 22-9, while Rosemead was losing to El Monte 50-34. Both teams needed victories to stay in the MVL playoff hunt and Gabrielino wanted to stop the losing streak against Rosemead dating back to 2003.
The first quarter saw no scoring as both squads were jockeying for field position and trading punts. Gabrielino was able to finally score on a 10-yard scramble by QB Elijah Peters with 9-1/2 minutes remaining in the first half. The defensive battle meant little room for error for either offense as both teams attack was stifled by the other’s staunch defense. 7-0 was the score as both teams retired for halftime.
The third quarter was a lot of the same as again no points were put up on the board and it led to thinking the 7 point lead was going to hold up. Both teams were flagged for penalties that put an end to offensive drives. Rosemead was signaled for 5 personal fouls, two on consecutive plays and was clearly frustrated by the Gabrielino’s game plan. It appeared Gab’s defense scored a touchdown early in the 4th quarter when Justin Gallardo and Lorenzo Mena broke free to sack Rosemead’s QB Everardo Camacho. As Camacho was trying to get rid of the ball, he was hit by the two Eagles. Gallardo picked up the ball and ran toward the endzone but the referees whistled the play dead as an incomplete pass and not a fumble.
Gab got the ball back however was unable to again move the ball against the Panthers and punted the ball to 6 yard line. It now looked quite bleak for Rosemead, but this series, dating back to the origins of Gabrielino, has seen unusual circumstances in many of their games. Rosemead was able to, with the help of two penalties, drive the 94 yards downfield and on the 12th play, Camacho ran in from the 3. The PAT was good and with just 3:38 remaining the score was tied. This game appeared heading for overtime.
Gabrielino had other ideas as Peters and the Eagles found a way to mix runs by Calvin Cheng, Carlos Monjaras and Garcia along with passes to Cameryn Matthews, Mark Winchell and Jeremy Franco to get into scoring position. Coach Harold Sanin said he was jus, “trying to get into field goal range, but saw a prevent defense” allowing the Eagles to move closer. During the drive, Peters had to convert key 3rd down passes, one for 29 yards to Winchell and another for 14 to Franco. Then Peters tossed a jump ball toward the endzone that Franco snagged at the one yard line. Brian Vargas ran it in and with 38.6 seconds, after a missed PAT, Gab regained the lead 13-6.
During their subsequent frantic drive, Rosemead was able to move the ball past midfield. But after a sack and being out of timeouts; QB Camacho spiked the ball to set up a 3rd down play with 6 seconds remaining. Camacho completed the hook-and-lateral play but it was interrupted by Cheng who forcefully tackled the trailing Panther as soon as he received the pitch. All eyes swung south toward the scoreboard and it read no time left and the score– Panthers 7 – Visitors 13. Gabrielino had broken the streak and had beaten the rival Panthers. Sanin and all the other coaches pointed to “team win” and “a gutty performance by a team” full of desire and heart. They also pointed out, “Rosemead was a team that gave them a real test and played tough for all four quarters.”
The victory gave the Eagles a 2-1 Mission Valley League record and 7-1 overall, while Rosemead is now 1-2 in league and 3-5 for the year. Next week Gab returns home after a 3-game ‘road trip’ to face MVL leading El Monte (3-0 in league, 6-2 overall). Rosemead travels to meet Arroyo (1-2, 4-4 overall).
(4 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)