The Patriots are once again the Kings of The City
VALLEY GLEN CA: The Birmingham Patriots have proven once again that they are the top dog of the City of L.A. The Patriots did it in dominant fashion as they blew out the Garfield Bulldogs 49-7. This is Birmingham and Garfiled’s second meeting in the CIF-City Section Open Division Title game. Last year Birmingham beat Garfield for their third straight Championship 49-13.
Garfield waited twelve months to get their revenge against Birmingham but in the end, the Bulldogs found out once again that the Patriots were the bone that they just could not chew on. Birmingham has dominated and outscored their opponents this season by the score of 584 to 148 with four shutouts. The Patriot's only two losses were to the Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks) Knights 41-0 and the Steele High Knights of Cibolo Texas 49-7.
The main reason for Birmingham’s success is Patriots head coach Jim Rose, who is considered by local sports writers as the modern-day Harry Welch. Welch, who is a legendary high school head football coach, is rated as the greatest High School football coach in CIF History. Coach Welch was inducted into the CIF Hall of Fame in October of 2022. He is the only head coach to win CIF Championships with three different programs. He also has won three State Championships.
Rose may not have the same numbers and undefeated streaks that Welch had with his three previous programs, but nevertheless, he is off to a good start in his coaching career and could be on his way to legendary status. Currently Rose has won 42 consecutive games against LA City opponents. The last time Rose and the Patriots lost to an LA City team was in 2017.
Rose said after the game that he was extremely impressed with how well his defense played as well as how the offense has performed. He said they really stepped up to a high level against Garfield.
“Overall our defense was really dominant until we had that one drive where we had some penalties,” Rose said. “The running backs were running great tonight and that was based on the whole line making their blocks. Our quarterback was getting things done and we played a pretty damn good game tonight.”
However Rose reminded his players before the game that they should not take Garfield lightly. He said the Bulldogs remembered what happened to them last year and they want revenge in the worst way.
“I reminded our guys that we played them a year ago and they are hungry for redemption so we can't let up,” Rose said. “I told them in the locker room that they have to stay focused and lock in. We killed them last year and at practice this week it paid off and here we are with a fourth straight championship”.
Rose said it feels good to win a fourth championship even though it has not sunk into him yet. He said he has one more goal to add to his coach recording and that is a state championship title.
“It will sink into us that we won four in a row but we are not done yet because we still have more goals to reach,” Rose said. “The next accomplishment is to win the State Championship and it is something we really want more than anything”.
As for Garfield's head coach Lorenzo Hernandez and his Bulldogs, they had another great season with an 11-2 record with an Eastern League Championship (6-0) that included winning the victory bell against cross-town rival Roosevelt 49-16 in the 88th meeting of the East L.A Classic. But in the end, it was a tough pill for Henandez and the Bulldogs to shallow as they lost to Birmingham for a second year in a row in the CIF City Section Open Division Title game.
Hernandez said it was nothing that his guys did wrong, they just simply knew that they lost to a superior team. In Hernandez's own words, he just could not find a way to outcoach Jim Rose.
“I just got to tip my hat to them and coach Jim Rose,” Hernandez said. “Birmingham is a very special program and the last few years they have been really dominant. Obviously we did not like the outcome of the game but it is what it is”.
Hernandez said that he disagreed with a key fourth down play early in the game that he felt was a bad call that lost the momentum for his defense.
“On a key fourth down I don't believe Birmingham’s offense got into the end zone and the officials called it a catch and I have a problem with that,” Hernandez said. “But either way, you can't take away that Birmingham has outstanding athletes on the field.”
All in all, Hernandez is still proud of his guys and their hard work in just making it to the Championship game. He reminded them that the Open Division is rough and tough and it never gets easy.
“When you play in the highest division in our section it is a little different,” Hernandez said. “No disrespect for the other programs in the other divisions but the open division is big boy football. Tonight we thought we were ready but once the tide turned they got us. Jim Rose is one hell of a coach and we are fortunate to be here but being here is not enough. You got to finish it. That's what we work for all season and when you don't finish it then it is all for nothing”.
In the first quarter, both Birmingham and Garfield had a defensive battle. However, with less than 10 seconds on the clock, Kingston Tisdell found Antrell Harris wide-open behind the defense for a 67-yard touchdown and Birmingham took a 7-0 lead. However, the Patriots hit the Bulldog's defense even harder With 5:44 on the clock Brimingham’s Payton Waters scored with a touchdown pass at the goal line giving the Patriots a 14-0 lead. Garfield head coach Hernandez disputed with the officials that Waters did not break the plane of the end zone.
Waters said he was impressed by the way his team dominated from start to finish. He said they really wanted this championship to make a statement that they own the Open Division.
“I think tonight we really played great football,” Waters said. “We did a great job running the ball and passing. Everyone wanted this win and we got it done”.
Waters also said he wants this current program to be remembered as a team that has overcome difficult obstacles to get back to the mountaintop.
“We had a tough pre-season for this exact reason to go out and play ball,” Waters said.
“We never back down from anyone and it got us to where we are”.
With 44 seconds left in the half, Birmingham would strike again. Dredon Fowles scored a touchdown on a strong 12-yard rush and Birmingham took a 21-0 lead at the half.
Going into the third quarter the Patriots already had the taste of victory in their mouth.
However, with 7:25 on the clock, the Bulldogs finally got on the board and it would be the only touchdown for Garfield in the contest.
The Patriots kept their foot on the gas and they did not let off. On the very next drive, Ronnell Hewitt scored a 10-yard rushing touchdown giving Birmingham a 28-7 lead.
Hewitt says he credits both his offensive line and his coaches for getting him prepared for the championship game. He said it was a great week of practice that made it all possible.
“When I came to practice the coaches got me ready for the game,” Hewitt says. “I have been practicing my runs throughout and I was able to get through the linebackers and I was able to score and it felt great”.
Hewitt also credits Birmingham's defense for keeping Garfield’s offense off the field which made it possible for the Patriots to dominate on offense and put points on the scoreboard.
“Our defense played really well and they were locked in the entire game,” Hewitt said. “They made the big tackles to win us the game. Tonight we have played our best defense all season and without question, this is the best defense in the city. I also credit Coach Rose and the coaching staff for getting us ready. Coach Rose said to us, When you work hard you get to the top of the mountain and the scoreboard has said it all for us and that is why we are champions”.
With 1:09 on the clock, Patriots backup quarterback Javen Hall ran in for a 51-yard touchdown, and at that point, Birmingham took a 35-7. Hall said he knew right then and there that there was no way that Garfield was going to stop them.
“I practice every week to get points on the board and do my thing and help the team out,” Hall said. “It feels good to win and create a dynasty because every year we come out and play hard, win games, and do our thing. That is why we are where we are today and it's a great outcome for all of us”.
Birmingham would put the game out of reach as Patriots Fowles scores a goal touch with 6:09 on the clock. Birmingham at that point was less than 4 minutes away from a Fourth straight championship. With just over 1 minute on the clock, the Patriots backup quarterback would score another touchdown with the final exclamation point. As the clock wound down to the final seconds, the Patriots celebrated on the field for their fourth straight CIF City Section Open Division title defeating the Bulldogs for the second time in a row.
(1) Richard Espinoza Sports Zone Report on X: "CIF City Section Open Division Football Championship Birmingham 49 Garfield 7 Final Score The Patriots Win Their 4th straight City Section Open Divison Title @VST_Media @CIFLACS https://t.co/wUQC8bkW1F" / X (twitter.com)
The Patriots will travel to San Diego to face the Del Norte Nighthawks for the CIF State Championship. Last week the Nighthawks won the 2023 CIF San Diego Section Football Division II Championship against the La Jolla Vikings 31-15. Game time starts on December 1 at 7:30 P.m.