NOTE: This game was too good and had so many side stories that I just can’t pass up adding more commentary about it.
We’ve got proof: After watching Tommy Kiss’ video highlights of the game, I just can’t sit on this any longer. (Watch the video at 2:57 to see the play). I was standing at the perfect angle to see Aaron Salgado’s game-winning touchdown and watching it live I said “he fumbled” … and while watching the sideline referee run in I was thinking “he’s gonna call this a fumble”, but before anybody could blink, the ref on the opposite side of the field ruled it was a touchdown. Is that his call? And how did he see it? And how did he have a better angle than the ref on my side of the field or myself or Tommy Kiss, who was video-ing it from near where I was? And did the ref on my side of the field have any say in the matter? Now I know it was Week 0 for the refs, too. And they aren’t perfect JUST LIKE THE REST OF US, but I still don’t understand how the other guy made the call. Again, my beef isn’t really with the call, it’s with who made it and why. And that there wasn’t at least a discussion.
Cramping my style: My next point of contention is all the cramping. In the fourth quarter, when Covina had momentum, I noticed Colts coach Darryl Thomas was demonstratively yelling out across the field to the refs or maybe even to West Covina during an injury timeout. I didn’t get a chance to talk with Coach Thomas after the game because I had to fly back to the office to write my story on deadline. But I know what was going on. West Covina was cramping on nearly EVERY PLAY in the fourth quarter and I think Thomas was getting sour about the interruption of game flow. I’ve covered A LOT of game and I’ve NEVER seen anything like it. I’m not saying it was intentional. It could be that the Bulldogs are the worst-hydrated team in the Valley. Coach Mike Maggiore and his staff are very much class acts, so I give them the benefit of the doubt. And it should be noted I saw Salgado and Jimmy Frazier stretching in between plays or during timeouts. I doubt they’d be doing that if they weren’t truly having issues. But regardless, I blame the referees again for this … Or better yet I blame the rules. Something needs to be done to GET THE PLAYERS OFF THE FIELD. Don’t interrupt the flow of the game to the point that we’re taking 3-5 minute breaks between each play. I truly believe the refs are hamstrung by the rules, so maybe the rules need doctoring. Are there any refs out there who can clarify this? I don’t expect an officiating crew to play doctor and determine how long a kid needs to be down on the field, and for what type of injury, but man it was a buzzkill to have so much delay interrupt the flow of a great game.
Speaking of flukes: Was Covina lucky to even be in the game? I think so. The Colts scored their three touchdown on three big plays and not three sustained drives. Covina’s first TD was set up on a fumble by West Covina QB Jon Najera, who nobody knew at the time was dealing with a head injury that sent him to the hospital. West Covina was trying to run out the clock with under 10 seconds to go in the half wjhen Najera fumbled shortly after the snap, giving Covina one play from the WC 20. Colts QB Billy Livingston found receiver Justin Mason in the back of the end zone on a fade as time expired. That was a gift from the football gods. Then, Covina got a 70-yard TD pass from Livingston to Vinny Vengas after a coverage breakdown. Then, with just over a minute left, Livingston found Peter De La Cruz behind the defense and dropped in a beautiful pass to him for the over-the-shoulder catch and TD. Those three scoring plays, while showing Covina has big-strike potential, are not confidence-inspiring drives. They’re a senior QB, who throws one of the best deep balls around and has a knack for finding mistakes in the secondary. It should be noted that Covina had a deep drive into WC territory that was stopped on downs. But I thought West Covina’s defense really dominated the night except for two stellar passes and one bad situation created by the offense.