The Monrovia High School football team’s embarrassment of riches continues.
Running back was supposed to be an area of concern for the Wildcats this season after graduating leading rusher Marquise Bias in June. That worry didn’t even last until spring ball thanks to the transfer of Covina leading rusher Gevontray Ainsworth, who figured to be in a battle with only Jacob Bueno for the starting job this fall.
Well, you can add another name to the fray and he could be the best of all three. Darrione Jones, a junior who didn’t play last season but was the leading rusher on the Wildcats’ freshmen team two years ago, has been turning heads thus far in practice and may play his way into a big role in this year’s offense.
“It’s possible,” Monrovia coach Ryan Maddox said when asked if Jones could end up being the starter. “It’s just a matter of if we’ve got multiple players who are good we will find some sets and formations where we can get those kids on the field.”
Calling the running game an area of concern is true nitpicking. Yes, the leading rusher has to be replaced, but Ainsworth ran for over 1,000 yards last season for semifinalist Covina. But given how loaded Monrovia is everywhere else on offense, sweating the running game happens by default.
Maddox said that senior quarterback Blake Heyworth is considerably better than what he was at this point last season, which is scary considering Heyworth threw for 2,377 yards and 25 touchdowns in 2011.
“With Blake returning, more can be put on his plate,” Maddox said. “He’s world better than last year and we thought he was pretty dang good last year. With his experience and ability to get the ball out of his hands, it’s pretty incredible.”
The Wildcats open the season on Aug. 31 against upper-division Ayala, which plays in the Sierra League and Inland Division. The game is part of Maddox’s attempt to beef up Monrovia’s nonleague schedule. The Wildcats will play four upper-division teams in the nonleague, culminating with arguably the game of the year in the Star-News area on Sept. 28 at St. Francis.
“I would say it’s a better start than last year,” Maddox said of his team’s attitude in practice. “It’s just because of the senior leadership. They’re just such a phenomenal group. I’ve never had a group of kids like this. They’re high character and leaders. They’re out there working when we’re not.
“So far, there’s been no motivational issues. They’re out there busting their butts and working hard.”