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The Tongva Times

Aesthetic of a staff member
Aesthetic of a staff member
Staff • June 4, 2024
End of school year sports recap
Bren Belmonte, Staff Writer • May 30, 2024

How varsity football’s last game went from touchdowns to throwdowns


   Varsity football’s last game was on Oct. 20 away against Rosemead. It ended in an altercation in the fourth quarter that ended both teams’ seasons. The call made by CIF evicted all players who left the sidelines to join the altercation, leaving Gabrielino with too few players to field a team for the Homecoming game scheduled for the following Friday.

   The stakes were high in the weeks leading up to the game as both Rosemead and Gabrielino needed to win to make CIF playoffs. In their game against Rosemead last year, Gabrielino won 10-7. This year, both sides came in feeling confident and hopeful.

   “It was very important for me,” stated senior Jimmy Ruiz, captain and defensive end for Rosemead’s football team. “It was our Senior Night and Homecoming Game, I didn’t want to end my senior year losing to Gabrielino two years in a row.”

   On the bus ride to the game, Gabrielino’s team was motivated by rivalry and determined to win. Senior Salvador Arias, captain for Gabrielino, described the team as calm and “locked in”. 

   “With every football team that’s not Gabrielino, of course you have a grudge,” Arias stated. “But Rosemead is definitely a team that I wouldn’t say we get along with sports-wise.”

   Gabrielino took the lead in the beginning, finishing the first quarter 14-0. In the second quarter, Arias scored a touchdown, increasing Gabrielino’s score to 20-0. Rosemead tied the score in the last six minutes of the quarter, going into halftime 20-20.

   “The players were talking, giving motivational speeches to each other,” recounted senior Keen Lai, the team’s film manager. “Telling each other it’s not really 20-20 on that clock, but really it’s zero to zero, so it’s like a fresh start.”

   Rosemead approached the second half with the same intensity.

   “I didn’t want my guys to get comfortable, I wanted them to stay hungry and to keep attacking,” Ruiz stated. “I wanted to end the game in the third quarter, meaning stop them in defense and for the offense to keep scoring.”

   Rosemead took the lead in the third quarter, scoring another two touchdowns. The score was 20-33 going into the last quarter.

   “I definitely could [feel the tension], both schools were desperate for a win,” Ruiz stated.

   In the last quarter, Rosemead intercepted a ball from Gabrielino and scored another touchdown. The final score was 20-36.

   “Rewatching the film […] starting from three plays before, you can see the Rosemead players get more and more aggressive, and the Gabrielino players get more and more aggressive with their tackles,” Lai stated.

   Conflict broke out after Arias tackled one of Rosemead’s running backs and the referee ejected him from the game. Sophomore Nicholas Hoang, a cornerback on Gabrielino’s team, was helping Arias tackle the player.

   “I saw what he did to Sal and I was like, nah, that’s just not cool,” Hoang stated.

   The Rosemead player then struck Hoang in the helmet.

   “I was on the sideline at first, but when I saw one of Gabrielino’s players get in the face of one of my teammates, I ran to grab my guy away from the Gab player,” Ruiz stated. “But by the time I got there, my guy already swung.”

   In the seconds following the first blow, both teams left their sidelines to get involved in the fight.

   “I think they started grabbing Nick’s helmet, and they were yanking it off and then they started punching Nick,” Arias stated. “I was trying to get my team back to the sideline and just tell them to chill.”

   Rosemead coaches got involved, attempting to keep players away from each other. Their method of extracting players sparked overblown rumors of inappropriate contact.

   “The coach […] grabbed me from the back of my pads and was pushing me, lifted me up, throwing me,” Arias stated. “I think it was more of a heat of the moment thing.”

   The referee ended the game early, with three minutes and 34 seconds left on the clock.

   “I don’t think [the fight broke out] because we were losing,” Arias stated. “Through the whole season, we’ve been fighting for a win […] when it’s 50 to zero we kept our composure and kept on playing.”

   The mood after the fight broke up was upset, angry, and frustrated on both sides.

   “I knew my season was going to end a week early and I would never get it back,” stated Ruiz. “I was disappointed because I knew my guys could’ve handled it a lot better.”

   After it was determined which athletes needed to face consequences for being involved in the fight, both teams had to end their seasons early and forfeit their last games. Looking back, many players held mixed feelings about whether they did the right thing.

   “I’m not gonna sit here and say we were goody two shoes, but we definitely didn’t start it and we didn’t avoid it,” Arias stated. “As a team, especially as a leader, I feel like we should have definitely walked away from that.”

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About the Contributor
Sophia Pu
Sophia Pu, Editor in Chief
Sophia Pu is the Editor in Chief for the school newspaper, marking her fourth year with the team. Outside of her editorial duties, Sophia is involved in Speech and Debate and enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time in nature. Her commitment to the newspaper grew from a passion for interviewing a diverse range of individuals she might not have interacted with otherwise.
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