There often are plays early in a game in which one team establishes who’s boss and how it’s going to be for the rest of the night.
In Monrovia High School’s 41-27 rout of Covina on Friday, that play came from Wildcats defensive back Anthony Craft just about eight minutes into what was supposed to be a semifinals showdown but gradually turned into a laugher.
Craft lit up Covina receiver Andrew Carrillo after Carrillo caught a short pass. From that point forward it was clear who still was the boss of the division.
Carrillo’s helmet came flying off. The Wildcats’ sideline went wild.
The crowd let a loud and simultaneous “ooooh.”
The game was over right there. Sure, the score technically was 7-7, but Craft’s play established who was boss and Covina was going to have to work harder for everything it got. And if it got something, the price to pay was going to be painful.
“It scares them,” Craft said of what happens to an opposing offense when a hit like his takes place. “It frightens them. It changes the game.”
From that point the teams traded scores and the game was tied 14-14 early in the second quarter. Monrovia then went on a dominating 20-0 run that let everyone at a packed Covina District Field know the defending divisional champ was not about to be dethroned, not even by the division’s top-ranked team.
Back in September it seemed plausible somebody else could and probably would win this year’s Mid-Valley Division championship.
Things don’t feel that way anymore.
Monrovia’s amazing collection of talent gave its fans fits early in the season when the Wildcats lost three of their first four games.
But things gradually got better. Head coach Ryan Maddox and his staff never panicked. Last year was the year to learn what it takes to bring home the hardware in Week 14. This year, that knowledge was put to use and it looks like the Valley is going to see the same bottom-line results.
Maddox and his staff have been pushing all the right buttons. And they had to because simply trotting out a super recruit like Ellis McCarthy and 10 other imposing athletes wasn’t going to get it done.
The Wildcats needed a quarterback and got one when Maddox and his staff settled on junior Blake Heyworth. Look how that’s paid off.
Heyworth was stellar on Friday night in throwing for 253 yards and three touchdowns. Heyworth also proved once again he was the missing link the Wildcats’ offense needed in order to deliver on all that talent.
“Once I settled into the season, it all came together just like you saw here tonight,” Heyworth said. “I’ve never been able to throw to athletes like this. I’m putting the ball out there and they’re making awesome plays out there.”
Despite the Wildcats’ results over the past two months, some people (including this writer) needed more convincing that Monrovia was more than just a sick collection of athletes who got by simply by being bigger, faster and stronger against weaker teams.
Covina was no weakling. Monrovia quite obviously is on another level.
The swagger remains, the big plays remain and the Mid-Valley crown very likely will remain.
From Craft’s tone-setting hit to Heyworth’s cool hand, the Wildcats remain a sight to see. The Valley got to see that loud and clear on Friday, and now there’s just one more win to get before the history books see the very same thing.
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