QB battles are on at West Covina and Bonita …

‘Old Reliable’ George Johnson won’t be around for the ‘Dogs to rely on this fall

With preparations for this fall already under way, the big question around West Covina High School is who will pilot the Bulldogs football team as it tries to defend last year’s CIF-Southern Section Southeast Division championship.

Three-year starting quarterback George Johnson is set to graduate in June and that means the luxury of having an experienced signal caller is no longer afforded on West Covina coach Mike Maggiore.

“As a coach, at this point in the game, everything concerns me,” Maggiore said. “It was nice (with George) going into the spring and summer knowing what we had and that we were pretty much set.

“I believe in our coaches and the ability that we have in getting our kids ready to play.”

The competition is wide open at this point, with Chris Caballero leading the way after guiding West Covina’s junior varsity team to a 10-0 record last season. Maggiore is also entertaining the idea of trying running back Jimmy Frazier under center.

Don’t expect a winner to be named until right around the first game of the season. Maggiore expects the battle to last well into two-a-days and the auditions begin in May with West Covina hosting several four-way passing competitions.

One thing is for certain, though. Whomever wins the job will have the luxury of handing off to Tribune Player of the Year Chris Solomon and talented backfield mate Aaron Salgado.

Coaches are raving about Solomon’s progress this offseason in the weight room. The soon-to-be senior has gone from 175 pounds at the end of last season to 192 today. He’s squatting 445 pounds and has kept his speed.

Solomon got his first offer of the offseason last week from Colorado and is expected to get another soon from Arizona State.

West Covina’s line, which has several key starters to replace, is also performing well in the weight room, according to Maggiore.

“The kids know if they’re going to play football here, they’re going to lift weights,” Maggiore said.

“They’re not going to go through the motions either, they’re going to lift with a purpose.”

West Covina’s offensive line will likely benefit from a linemen competition the school will host in late June.

Position battles rage at Bonita

West Covina is far from the only place with a big question mark at quarterback. Bonita, which played West Covina in last year’s Southeast Division championship game, is also looking to replace a veteran passer.

For the Bearcats, though, youth may be served by the time it’s all said and done. Coach Eric Podley said his quarterback competition is a three-way battle between two sophomores and a senior. And given Podley’s past history of developing quality signal callers, nobody should be betting on a big drop off in production.

“It will be different in the sense that we’ve never really started a sophomore at quarterback in the years that I’ve been here, but I think there’s a chance that could happen this year,” Podley said. “I think the two sophomores we have that are vying for the position may be some of the most talented players we’ve had at that spot. We had a 10-0 freshman team and both guys were pretty successful there.”

The position wars don’t end at quarterback. Podley must replace a dynamic senior class that will leave a number of holes in plenty of other places.

Bonita loses four out of five linemen and three out of four receivers from last year’s team, but looks strong at running back where junior-to-be Reggie Turner leads a talented group that runs deep on experience.

Podley said his team may do more passing competitions this offseason, but will modify things so that there are more one-day competitions as opposed to two days.

“I think the players we have know how to win, but I don’t think they know how to win at the varsity level yet,” Podley said. “There’s going to be some growing up and seasoning that has to be done.”

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  • Aaron

    The Frosh and JV squads the last two seasons have been some of the best in recent memory.

    The two sophs are extremely talented and the senior has been in the system awhile and has a great arm.

    There’s holes to fill, yes, but there are a lot of good kids in the program.

    Aram…great article man, this has me champing at the bit for more!

  • amanda merryman

    He does have a way with words, doesnt he?

  • Dan

    I agree Aram, nice article, and nice to get a football bone thrown our way every once in a while, keep em coming. Aaron, Don, I get this feeling Bonita will reload this next season with the good lower level talent you guys have had. I’m also curious about Diamond Ranch to see what they’ve got coming up the ranks, should be a another good year in the Hacienda.

  • Don


    I don’t think Podley’s biggest worry is who’ll be taking the snap but where to find Linebackers to replace Mikity, Huth, and Johnson. These three guys accounted for better than 1/3 of the Bearcat tackles last year and it won’t be easy to fill those spots. A little less so at CB where Gelalich and Brungard both graduated since they leave behind a couple of kids who played a lot in the long run last year.

    Oddly, BoHi also benefits from it’s successes last year much the way they did from all of the injuries they sustained in 09-10. Two years ago they were compelled to use kids in Varsity games they otherwise might not have. That depth showed up big for them last year; last season, the underclassmen saw playing time because of big second half leads. Either way, the experience is invaluable and returning lots of kids with playing time under their belts is an advantage Bonita hasn’t always enjoyed.

    The Bulldoggies should be favored to repeat in the Hacienda because of the speed and size they’ll return but who is to know what fun will spill out over the course of a whole season. Let’s just hope that all of the local kids stay healthy and continue to work hard in the off season both in the weight room and in the classroom.

  • X’s and O’s

    West Covina will be favored to win the Hacienda and Bonita will be expected to finish second again. Let’s face it, nobody came close to touching these two teams during league play. As a matter of fact, not even Bonita was able to hang with West Covina the first time around. Obviously the championship game was a completely different story.

    I really like these two teams and hope to see a nice rivalry build. Both have tough kids and tremendous coaching staffs. However, I predict that the rest of the Hacienda League is not going to want to see another two man race and I don’t think any team will run away with an undefeated league title. Diamond Ranch, Walnut, and Diamond Bar will have something to say about the Hacienda when all is said and done.

  • Brandon

    @X’s and O’s

    I think out of those three schools you pointed out, Diamond Ranch may be the only one who may have a fair chance at beating Bonita or West Covina. Walnut is a stretch because they have to replace quite a few star players and Diamond Bar is Diamond Bar, poor coaching, lack of linemen. A single QB (Omana) is not enough to win league!

  • RHS

    When does Rowland get to go the Valle Vista or elsewhere to have a chance in any sport!

  • just sayin’

    RHS – that’s the way it works here in the fish bowl. everyone fighting to move down/stay where they are – so they “have a chance”.
    Bishop Amat is the only school on record that continues to fight to stay in the highest division.
    Therein lies the difference.

  • Former Coach

    Solomon is the ultimate beast. Coached this kid when he was a WC Bruin (played just anywhere we needed him)and I always knew this kid was gonna be special on the playing field. Played Duarte and Solomon ran 90 yards to catch a runner. I predict he will have another breakaway season!

  • Another QB in the mix?

    You don’t understand where RHS is coming from. This years Rowland team had superior talent compared to the coming years. I have been saying all year that next years Rowland team has a real shot at losing against Los Altos. Don’t get me wrong once again talent is transfer out of LA. I heard another one of their out of area kids transferred back to West Covina. Sure would like to see the paperwork on that one. The family ownes their home in West Covina moves to Hacienda Heights (haha), then moves back to the same home in West Covina. What is so crazy about this one is this kid transferred to Los Altos from West Covina in the middle of the season during his freshmen year (2009) and didn’t use the freshmen option, he used the change of address option. Now going back to West Covina as a junior, he has to use the change of address again. The real interesting aspect of this is the kid is a quarterback, don’t even see West Covina giving him a look after the stunt he pulled when he left. According to the family when he left he was the freshmen starting quarterback, like I said according to the family. I would be shocked if Los Altos signs off on this transfer, based on their history.

  • Dan

    Hmm that’s interesting.
    Kid should have transferred back into WC before his sophomore year, too late at this point, your right though, Coaches won’t take a chance if it isn’t legal.

  • SGV for 30 Years

    Love to hear the football talk. Spring ball isn’t the place where we find out who the guys are gonna be in the fall. Everyone’s a dude when they know they aren’t gonna get hit. Here are my pre, preseason predictions.

    1. West Covina – Solomon IS a proven dude. When in doubt give him the ball. WC was also solid on the lower levels.

    2. Bonita – They lost the farm, but their lower levels has some players that can fill in the gaps.

    3. Diamond Ranch – Their freshmen team was loaded. But I don’t think they are enough of them to overtake the 2 above them.

    4. Walnut – No experienced quarterback, no receivers. I think their Diamond Bar game could come down to coaching. In that case, I choose Walnut. But Walnut doesn’t have the size up front to take on the top 3 teams.

    5. Diamond Bar – Best Quarterback in the league. I just don’t know if they can protect him or find someone to catch his passes. Their “Efense also needs to be fixed. (Not a typo, they haven’t had a “D” in years).

    6. Rowland – They underacheived last season. And have lost quite a few quality players. Their lower levels didn’t look very promising.

    7. Loss Altos – New coach, same results unless someone can plug the hole in the dike of what talent LA has leaving.

    Yea I know it’s early and time will tell how this will play out. Could we be looking at Back to Back Championships for the WC Boys? Sorry Coach Maggorie, but now the you have 2 CIF titles under your belt, the cat is out of the bag. You are officially and Elite coach!!

    SGV430 Ouuuutt!!!!

  • ha in ur face

    play charter oak

  • Dan

    Ha in ur face,
    Here we go again, CO wouldn’t have mattered in the Southeast last year, WC and Bonita would both have beat them, along with Mayfair and La Serna.
    Muema, Powell, Smith, Golden, Youngblood, were all gone, you were not even close to the same team you had the three previous years. Now last years WC and 2008 & 2009 CO would have been some nice games.

  • Good football ahead

    As much as I hate the slant homer views of some of the regular BHS bloggers. You still have to give BHS its due respect as a program. There pipeline of players for the next 3-4 years will do them well. This is a good cycle for them after coming off some real lean years. The stability of the coaching staff help tremendously (even if you don’t care for their personality)they work well together.
    As for DRanch their freshman lost to many of the local teams including Bonita whichis a strong indication their cycle may be heading in the wrong direction. They will require some transfrs if they want to make the noisethey are use to in the next few years.
    WC pipeline and coaching stability is as good as anyones. They are solid and will remain soild but will require some kids to step up and fill the shoes the more than solid classes they had over the last 2 years.

  • Coach

    Just looking at the numbers, West Covina clearly has the edge over all the other programs in the Hacienda league and that does include Bonita. Bonita has to do a major reload this year compared to West Covina. You can’t assume your 10-0 JV team is going to be successful at the Varsity level.

    The interesting aspect of this is the transfers. One team has been flying under the radar with multi big pickups and more expected in June.

  • Dan

    Why the secrecy, who’s getting transfers.

  • Coach Slayer

    Have yet to notice any transfer having a decisive impact on any program the last couple of years. In fact they seem to have more of a negative impact on team chemistry. Legit move ins are a different story and are generally welcomed like Gano at Bonita and the Northview QB.Both West Covina and Bonita seem to be reloading at a high level with fierce competition for starting spots. This reflects well on the coaches and athletes at both programs. To knock either team off other Hacienda league teams will have to match their coaches and players enthusiasm. Diamond Bar seems the closest in getting an early jump. Lack of quality coaching at Diamond Ranch, Walnut and Rowland is hurting these programs. Coaching staffs at these schools are slipping badly lacking basic knowledge of proper preperation.
    That is how I see it early on.

  • Coach

    Coach Slayer,

    That is one of the stupidest comments I heard in a while. Somehow Gano’s is legit, no team chemistry issues but the others mess up the team chemistry. Speaking of Gano all those CIF championships he won over at LA were done on non-legit transfers so I guess Gano himself blows your theory out of the water. During the summer we can revisit this issue when the dust clears.

  • Coach Slayer

    Coach. Your retort in incomprehensible and pointless. Until you can put a sentence together that has at least a modicum of direction please refrain but trying to comment on any of my points or get your mommy to help you compose your comment. Calling one stupid then making a inane response like yours only points the finger directly back at you.

  • AMAT 73

    The Gano that Slayer was writing about was Courtney Gano in the aspect of her transfer being legit. So now that you have let us know your feelings on Coach Gano. Who is the one flying under the radar with all these transfers you speak of or is this just one of your no fact backing posts you are famous for on the blog. Also would you care to retract your post to Slayer on the stupidest comment you’ve heard in a while and redirect it to your own post.And the way you blow hot air on the blog , will the dust ever have a chance to settle????

  • coach

    I was aware that Coach Slayer was commenting on Courtney not Coach Gano. I was pointing out that Coach Gano (the father) lived on transfers and won multi CIF titles with them, something that according to Coach Slayer doesn’t happen. As far as the hot air as you call it, Aram is very aware the majority of the stuff I post on this blog and send him via email are valid. A matter of fact one of the guys over at Mid Valley may have the scoop on this one, he made the same comment yesterday on his thread.

    Come mid-June we will see who is blowing the hot air.

    Amat 73, you still upset about your football team choking, get over it.

  • Dan

    My guess is its a west SGV team getting the transfers because his write up say’s that its a team in their coverage area.[I assume he ment The Mid Valley coverage area].

  • Dan

    I posted this on the thread below but in case you missed it, I’ll post it here too, some news out of West Covina,
    Went to see the WC girls Softball team this week and got a chance to talk with some of the kids from the football team. Lots of good news as I found out B.J. Lee was offered a football and track scholarship to University of New Mexico, He was in Albuquerque [spelling?] this past weekend visiting the campus. Defensive End Justin Meaders was also offered a scholarship to either Arizona or Arizona ST. I can’t remember which but it’s one of the two.
    A few weeks ago I was also told that Left Guard John Logan got a football scholarship to Whittier College [As a kid growing up in Whittier I always thought it would be neat to go there] and center Mark Laffin was going to a small university back East or in the Midwest to play ball.
    Just trying to keeping you guy’s current on the latest in Bulldog country. Over and out,lol.

  • X’s and O’s

    Dan, great to here all of that info and nice to hear that Logan is going to play at Whittier. However, Whittier is a Division III school and does not offer athletic scholarships.

  • Classic Mid Valley.

    They claim to have the scoop on something but for some reason or another (so in awe of coaches?) they can’t share it.

    This isn’t junior high, there are no secrets.

    You can’t get too excited about transfers anymore these days anyway. It seems like half of them aren’t allowed to play due to rules or whatever. Unless they’re frosh making their one transfer, it means little. And if they are frosh, how can you really tell if they’re that good anyway?

  • Dan

    X’s and o’s,
    If that is true on D3 and scholarships I stand corrected on Logan, I did not speak to him directly, but I was told that he got money to go to Whittier College so I assumed it was a scholarship, could be a grant or something but either way I was told he was going to play football. As for Justin Meaders and B.J. Lee getting offers to New Mexico and Arizona, I spoke to the kids myself.

  • X’s and O’s

    If Logan is getting money to go to Whittier, it is for academics and that is an unbelievably great accomplishment for a young man. Keep up the good work, kid!

  • Dan

    X’s and O’s, I agree, great accomplishment no matter what, as a parent I’d be happy just for the fact that my kid was going to a 4 year school. All in all I just wanted to spread the good news that I heard this past week.

  • bf911

    aaron good use of “champing” most would not get that right.. you are a gentleman and a scholar

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