One could say that Montebello’s game with Roosevelt to kick off the high school football season last Friday was special.
It was the first meeting between the schools that are only six miles apart facing off in a rare matchup of teams from different CIF sections.
And it was special teams’ play that proved to be the difference as Montebello held on for a 21-19 victory.
George Romo’s 80-yard kickoff return and Marcus Portillo’s 47-yard return for touchdowns were key to the Oilers (1-0), who play Rosemead Friday night at home.
While Montebello was using long kick returns to score its points, Roosevelt’s offense was explosive, getting a 52-yard touchdown run from quarterback Andony Flores and a 62-yard scoring run from Michael Galindo.
After Galindo’s score with 3:48 left in the game, however, Montebello stopped Roosevelt’s two-point conversion attempt at the 1-yard line that would have tied the score.
“It’s not going to get any easier for us,” Montebello Coach Pete Gonzalez said. “Rosemead is a very good football team. They looked very good in their scrimmage against Arcadia (last week).”
Daniel Servin, with 14 tackles, had a big night for the Oilers, who also got 10 tackles from Issac Sermens. Linebacker Gabriel Guevara was credited with the tackle on the 2-point conversion attempt.
“Our defense played really well once we settled down,” Gonzalez said.
Quarterback Matt Saenz threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Romo in the second quarter to give the Oilers a 14-13 lead.
Roosevelt’s A.J. Gutierrez scored the game’s first points, running five yards for a touchdown less than four minutes into the first quarter.
Falling behind early was common last season for Montebello, which lost its first four games and finished 4-6.
“I liked our resiliency to fight back after we fell behind,” Gonzalez said. “We struggled to do that last year. It was nice to get back into the game, go ahead and hang on to it.”
Roosevelt Coach Javier Cid is hoping to see more balance from his offense this week.
“Montebello’s defense gave us some problems but we still managed to move the ball,” he said. “Andony (Flores) did a good job running the ball, but we didn’t pass as well as I would have liked.
“Defensively, we did a good job holding them to one score, but we’re going to have to improve our coverage on kickoffs and punts,” Cid added.
Roosevelt plays upstart Wilson Friday night in El Sereno. The Mules, who defeated Contreras, 28-9, last Friday in their opener, will be attempting to end a 5-year losing streak to the Rough Riders.
“They looked pretty good against Contreras and they’re going to be fired up to be playing us,” Cid said.
Tonight, 7 p.m.: Garfield vs. Edison at Huntington Beach High School; Eagle Rock at San Marino.
Friday, 7 p.m.: Schurr at Cantwell Sacred Heart of Mary; Bell Gardens at Torrance; Rosemead at Montebello; Roosevelt at Wilson; Franklin at L.A. Poly; Lincoln at Huntington Park; Fulton at Torres; Bishop Montgomery at Salesian.