Two of the top ten CIF Los Angeles City teams, the Lincoln Tigers (9-0) and the Franklin Panthers (7-2), squared off on Friday night for the Northern League championship ending in Lincoln going home with the victory 52-34 in their East LA rivalry.
Lincoln Head Coach Gabriel Cotero shared how it felt to earn this win.
“It feels relieving. It was a rough week. We worked hard to put this game together. It’s not only the product on the field, it’s everything that goes around. But it feels very satisfying. This school needs it. We played a very, very tough team over there. The coach over there [Franklin’s head coach] I’ve known him since he was a little kid. I was his teacher at Irving Middle School. We talk on the phone and all that stuff. Before the game we were just talking and having fun. But overall, it just feels so good.”
Lincoln struck first as senior quarterback Ivan Plancarte drove for a 30-yard touchdown at the 9:46 mark in the first quarter, 6-0.
In the blink of an eye, Lincoln junior Tyler Rosales leaped for a pick six at the 7:26 mark to make his team go up 20-0.
But Franklin wouldn’t be silenced for long.
Money man Hector Ceballos scored a 5-yard reception to put his team on the board, 20-7.
“Hats off to Lincoln,” said Franklin Head Coach Narciso Diaz. “It’s a good team. They played well. They deserve it. I can’t complain about our team’s effort. We went down 20-0. Then we just kept battling back, battling back. But I’m proud of our kids and we have one more game left.”
Lincoln’s star senior running back Andre Watkins was in the zone.
Plancarte handed the ball off to Watkins to score and lead at the end of the first period, 28-7.
Coach Cotero commented on the impact of Plancarte and Watkins as his team’s dynamic duo.
“Those two guys have been performing for us just like they did today. They pick everything up. They study the plays well. And it shows on the field. I also like their leadership. Ivan of course is a little fiery but he lays it all out. And Andre has been doing the same thing for 4 years with us. He ran for over 2,000 yards for his sophomore season. It’s because of them that we’re here. They carried us throughout the season, and they’re still carrying us right now, and they’re going to carry us through the postseason too.”
Watkins then dashed for a 44-yard run in the second quarter to extend the lead, 42-14.
He went down with 3:57 minutes remaining in the second period. He started limping on his right leg, but was able to walk off the field on his own.
Lincoln led at the half, 42-20.
Watkins returned to action in the third quarter. Franklin struggled to catch him as he sprinted to the house at the 5:09 mark to put his team up, 49-26.
Franklin tried to creep up to come as close as 49-34 in the final quarter, but Lincoln was able to close it out.
“I just have a lot of fun with these kids all day, all week, every time of the year, and to see them happy is my greatest satisfaction,” said Coach Cotero.
The Los Angeles Rams were also in the house as some of the administrative staff and the team mascot made appearances.
Lincoln is currently on a 13-game winning streak and will go for 10-0 next week against Torres.
“We can’t take them lightly,” said Coach Cotero. “So, we just got to go in there and watch film and get the game plan ready. We’re out here having fun and the kids are out here performing for us. I just want to see exactly what I saw tonight against Torres next week and we’ll be fine. We need the momentum to take us into the playoffs.”
The Lincoln Tigers go on the road against the Torres Toros next Friday, October 29th at 7 pm.