After a walk through by CIF officials on Wednesday, the site of the Southeast Division championship game between West Covina and La Serna will remain California High in Whittier at 7 p.m. on Friday.
Area fans may finally get the dream matchup they’ve wished for as earlier as Week 3 of next season.
Bishop Amat and Charter Oak are near a deal to play next season in a matchup of two of the area’s top football programs, according to sources.
The two heads coaches and both administrations have recently been working on a deal to play and one could be finalized as early as Monday, sources said.
Aram’s take: Finally! YES! Both teams have some rebuilding to do, especially at QB. But this would still be a fun event for the Valley. And for those of you wondering, this would be former Amat lineman Andrew Hauser’s first game of eligibility.
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.
Follow me on Twitter @ChemicalAT
UPDATE: The Mid-Valley Division semifinals game between San Dimas and San Gabriel will be played at San Gabriel High on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m.
Aram’s take: Seriously, I’m getting sick of this. Don’t be surprised if we’re back with an update in an hour saying the game will be played on Jan. 1 at the Rose Bowl.
Until this season, fans of a team fortunate enough to reach the semifinals in their respective CIF-Southern Section playoff divisions would have the opportunity to go see not only their teams play, but their possible opponent in the championship game, too.
Take, for example, the Mid-Valley Division this year. Under the previous set-up, the Monrovia-Covina game would be Friday night, giving fans of San Gabriel and San Dimas an opportunity to go watch. The following night on Saturday, San Gabriel and San Dimas would play, with likely a nice contingent from the Monrovia-Covina winner on hand to see who they’re going to get in the final.
What happened? The short answer is: blame the football coaches.
According to CIF-SS Director of Information Thom Simmons, the Southern Section football coaches advisory committee decided to get rid of the Friday/Saturday format in order to put both games on Friday night.
“It was brought up at one of the football coaches advisory committee meetings and the feeling was football Friday nights are football Friday nights for a reason,” Simmons said. “The games are played on Friday nights and very few are played on Saturdays. The feeling was let’s keep those games on Friday nights.
“The second reason was, if you play on that Saturday and your championship is the following Friday, that’s a short week for you and an unfair advantage for the team in the other part of the bracket who played on Friday. The coaches wanted to level that playing field and in that meeting they voted unanimously to make them both Friday night.”
The decision certainly won’t help the CIF-SS financially. With games on different nights, it allowed for more people to attend both. But Simmons pointed out that the casual fan of no team in particular who just likes to go watch games is a dying breed, and he won’t know just what type of financial impact not playing the game on separate days has until after this week’s games.
“I don’t think there is a casual football observer anymore,” Simmons said in reference to declining numbers at CIF-SS sporting events, including football, the top draw. “Our numbers don’t indicate that there are. There seems to a very school-specific base that goes to these games. The only guys that are really those casual football observers are those guys on your blogs and for the most part they’re going to go to the same game that night anyway. They’re not going to another game.
“If there’s one thing here at CIF that we get accused of, it’s being money hungry. If that’s the case, then why would we ever cut our gate?”
The good news for fans interested in games beside the one they’re attending is that modern technology, like this newspaper’s weekly Coveritlive broadcasts with Mike “The Cousin” Robledo, allow them to follow the action elsewhere by using their smartphones. Fans can also keep other fans abreast of the action taking place at the game they’re attending.
Follow me on Twitter @ChemicalAT