Chino linebacker Niko Johnson transfers to West Covina … and from what I hear he’s a good one …

Photo courtesy of MaxPreps or

Former Chino linebacker Niko Johnson has transferred to West Covina where he looks like a good bet to land a starting spot in the Bulldogs’ front seven.

Johnson, a senior to be, recorded 35 tackles at Chino in 2010 and 18 tackles in 2011. At 6-foot, 200 pounds, he could be quite a force for head coach Mike Maggiore’s defense, which has to replace several key starters like leading tackler Dorrin Turner and Tribune Defensive Player of the Year Justen Meaders.

The good news is there’s also a good group of experienced players returning and Rancho Verde transfer Justin Hornsby, who had to sit out last season, will be eligible to play.

Aram’s take:
Heckuva a nice pick up for the Bulldogs. As I’ve said before, WestCo and M-Town are the two programs with all the juice now. These programs are where kids want to be, and you can’t blame them — CHAMPIONSHIPS AND SCHOLLYS — that’s what everyone from fans to players to want. Johnson was a West Covina Bruin back in the day, hence the return to WestCo.

  • glen “pop” warner

    is this WC team the same team that got beat down by Loyola? by what 4 TDs? I know you have to build the local teams up, but c’mon man, put down the all you can eat buffets utensils and get real, WC is very good in their lower division, nothing more nor less, of course the Trib has years and years of history, building up small schools,lower divisions, claiming they can hold their own against anybody, obviously, this is not true, never has been,never will be, when they play up, they get hammered!

  • good

    Hey glen…ok well take your show on the road get of the SGV blog and go on the LA times or OC register. West Co is good, and they could beat plenty of upper division teams, but they choose to play good upper division teams. They could play Marina, or LB Miliken or Compton. Loyola is a storied program and LA Powerhouse school. There is no shame losing to them. You don’t plan to lose or want to lose. You play to win.

  • Coach Corona


    Welcome home! I know you will represent on and off the field. Good luck, wish you the best.

  • Bulldogs have bite

    @glen “pop” warner,

    “is this WC team the same team that got beat down by Loyola? by what 4 TDs?”

    To answer your question, no it is not the same team! This is 2012, not 2011. Heck, the team that lost to Loyola was not even the same team that scored a record 84 points in the CIF Final! Not having Najera, Solomon, Franklin and later in the 1st half Frazier for that game really hurt our chances to put up a good showing against a Pac-5 playoff team like Loyola. WC has the talent to match any upper Division school. The only difference really is the depth of talent and the depth of size along the lines that Pac-5/Inland teams have in spades.

    I love that Maggiore schedules teams like Loyola, Bishop Amat, Mater Dei, Venice and now Chino Hills. Those are programs that WC hopes to one day be peers with. The only way to measure the gap is to play those schools. I can live with losing by 4 td’s to Loyola. A lot of Pac-5 schools get beat by 4 td’s too! Maybe this year will be different, who knows. But it’s better to face a challenge and lose, than to avoid a challenge and fool yourself to think you are great! WC will play anybody, anywhere! Win or lose they are always up to challenge themselves to be better!

    Niko Johnson,

    Welcome to Bulldog Country! Work hard in the classroom and on the field, and you will be in control of your own destiny!

    Go Bulldogs!



  • Realityczech

    The reality is that next years West Covina team will be more like the team that face Loyola than the team that faced La Serna. And BTW – NO Pac 5 teams lost to Loyola by 4 TDs. Remember, Amat shut out that same Loyola team the 2nd half WITHOUT their starting free safety and best lineback, plus they were only down 7-3 when their starting QB was injured. Bottom line-Expect more of the same for the Bulldogs vs the Cubs.

  • Bulldogs have bite


    You have no clue what West Covina’s team will be like this year, so stop trying to sound like you do. Win or lose we still want to play the best teams. I expect a much more competetive game this year at West Covina’s home field. If we lose big you will be right, and you can pat yourself on the back by predicting a Pac-5 playoff team would beat a Southeast Division 7 team. If West Covina wins or keeps the game close, you will have some ‘splain’n to do Lucy!

    WC has some big shoes to fill in at running back, but we always seem to keep our stables full with talent at that posistion. Salgado and Best return so I’m not too worried. Our big question is at QB. Will Antonio “Noodles” Hull win the starting job? Jon Najera would be an experienced senior, does he get the nod? Maybe someone we don’t even know about yet comes in and surprises us all? Thank goodness the season now starts in August!

  • Aram

    Better question is if Noodles doesn’t win the job, then where does he play? Not at receiver because this team doesn’t throw enough to utilize him there. Running back where he fights for carries with Salgado, Best and Love?

    My own suggestion is model the offense after Oregon and Darron Thomas. Then, watch out!

  • The gambler

    Is this a legit transfer where the parents actually moved into the district, or is this one of those situations where the parents decided to roll the dice with CIF and gamble their kids senior season away? Is Westco the new Charter Oak/ South Hills / DRanch / Any Gano coached team of the SGV?

  • Bulldogs have bite


    I absolutely agree. Noodles at QB and running the spread-option would put all our best atheletes on the field all at the same time. And Salgado and Best rotate in and out as the lone back. May as well go no huddle too! Sick!

  • Aram


    Without following the kid home from school everyday, how can anybody say for sure? But I can tell you from those who I’ve spoken with, the family moved to West Covina and I believe used to live there prior, hence the kid being on the Bruins.

    To answer your second question about WestCo being the new CO or South Hills or Gano HS. I think the answer is actually two pronged.

    1. If by comparing WestCo to CO, South Hills or LA in the Gano days you’re saying a popular program that’s winning championships and sending kids to the next level, then yes WestCO is that place. Like I said before, it’s very clear WestCo and Monrovia have the juice now, so they’re getting transfers. In the case of Noodles, he was between several private schools and West Covina. He and his mom chose West Covina and she moved there fair and square before his frosh season. In the case of Hornsby, he reportedly went to a South Hills practice with his pops and said ‘no way’ and wanted to go to West Covina. He sacrificed his entire junior year just to get a senior season at WestCo, and from what I hear the kid is absolutely going to be a terror this year.

    2. What somewhat held West Covina back 10 years or so ago was that West Covina was bankrolling EVERYBODY ELSE’S program. You had WestCo kids at Amat, Los Altos and South Hills. Now, they’re mostly staying home and viewing WestCo as the place they want to play. I used to say if WestCo actually got all the kids who should go there to actually go there, then that place would be a powerhouse. Well, here we are. You’re also starting to see lots of kids with WestCo ties wanting to come back. The amount of talent that team had last year, especially on defense, was absolutely sick.

    Everyone can bag on the division when it comes to Monrovia or WestCo, but the fact is that come Week 11, 12, 13 or 14, everyone is still talking about those schools while everybody else has already hung it up. They get the spotlight to themselves and the recruiters and media and fans and whomever all take notice. And if you ever seen either team play, you’d know they could bang with upper-division teams no problem.

  • New York

    Bulldogs have bite,
    The only problem I have with your post is it almost seems as if you view a football team as talent plus an offensive line, almost as if talent is not on the offensive line. It is a different type of talent than at the “skill” positions, but a talented offensive line can make a huge difference, especially in December.

  • Bulldogs have bite

    New York,

    You’re right. When I say talent I mean skill position player, yet talented linemen do make a huge impact. Ironically lineman also have large amounts of skill as well.

  • Recruiter, INC

    Gano and company must have just missed on this guy. There were rumors he was enrolled at Damien at one point. Guess you win some and you lose some…

  • Aram

    Recruiter Inc,

    You are correct. He was almost at Damien.

    And like I would say to any coach out there, if a transfer kid is between your school and West Covina and he chooses your school, take that entire coaching staff out for a Double-Double because that’s a serious accomplishment. NOBODY is getting kids over WestCo these days.

  • X’s and O’s

    “if a transfer kid is between your school and West Covina and he chooses your school, take that entire coaching staff out for a Double-Double because that’s a serious accomplishment. NOBODY is getting kids over WestCo these days.”

    This is not what high school sports is about and it’s definitely not what coaching high school is about. Instead of taking your staff out for a double-double for getting a transfer, a coach should be taking his staff out for pulling the best out of an average player and making him good. The staff should be taken out for making an impact on the growth of a young man. This isn’t D-I college football and this kind of recruiting doesn’t do any good to a kid’s ego. Transfer stories may be sexy, but for every transfer with talent, there are 50 loyal guys who have busted their hump for a program they love. These are the one’s who should be honored.

  • wcgringo

    OF COURSE his transfer gonna be approved because he aint going to SOUTH HILLS….btw….SH SUCKS!!! huckthefuskys

  • anonymous

    why is there hype about this kid? my son who was a senior last year at chino said hes not good at all, he didnt start as a junior they started a sophomore and an ok senior at linebacker. idk what the hype is about???

  • Bulldogs have bite


    What’s your son’s name? Since he has such a negetive opinion of Niko’s abilities, I see it as only being fair to be able to review and critique the critic as well. It’s easy to throw stones when shielded by anonimity. I have a son who goes to Chino too then, and he says your son twirls the flag with the marching band!

  • Chino Fan

    HA HA must be talking about the sophomore that received a broken tailbone at playoffs must be because he was on it all game long, yes you are correct he did start over Johnson and was pushed back at least 20 yards every play. As a matter of FACT!!.. Johnson was put in the last 9 min of the game for a total of 6 tackles wow!! Way to screw that one up McCainnot only was this sophomore a joke on the field but his family is good friend with McCain, he was also the kid that started the Garey fight and he only played the easier games who started Coloney, Lugo and Diamond do us all a favor and give credit when credit is due sorry to see him go GOOD LUCK!!

  • anonymous

    im not gonna say who my son is, and ok my son played with him during practice and all he was not good at all you can ask anyone that was on the team hes not physical enough for linebacker once a lineman puts his hands on him its game over for him, the only thing hes good at is reading his guards.

  • anonymous

    and the only reason he transferred is because hes not gonna be starting next year the sophomore and his brother are starting nico and trestan kuenaman. or jesse rosas the nose guard last year. so he didnt want to be a backup his senior year, and that also shows his competitiveness.

  • Bulldogs have bite


    just can it. You can dish it out but can’t take it. If your son is anything like you then he was no good in football because he would be a coward! What is there to hide? If your boy is so good, wouldn’t you want us to know and shove it in our face? You are pretty pathetic because you still think you or your son’s opinion still holds any value. Maybe Niko teased your boy for twirling flags with the girls and the band?

    Aram says that he heard Niko is a good one and Chino fan agrees. So if I ask anyone, it does not sound like everyone shares your opinion. Name your boy. I wanna look up his stats on MaxPreps and see what college he got a scholly too! C’mon I just have to see this great evaluator of talent that your son is. Maybe he scouts for the patriots!

  • anonymous

    im just saying what my son and a couple of his friends that also play told me, im not hating on him or anything. in other news whos winning the mt baldy league title this year ??

  • chill

    Kuenaman…isn’t that the kid with the broken tail bone wow maybe you should tell your son a broken ass comes from being put on it during games not from tackles, by the way is he still icing it the new season is around the corner you wouldn’t want his pride hurt again.

  • Chino Cowboy Parent

    AnonymousYOURE AN IDIOT!!! If youre not hating on Niko Johnson as you say, then why the negative comments about him?? I am also a Chino Cowboy parent and have a son on the team, and its funny because the comments about Niko made by your so-called son and his friends is news to alot of people. You have the audacity to jump on the Kuenemann brothers bandwagon and you have no idea how all of this came down to begin with.

    First of all Nico K. (the sophomore) was handed the middle backer position by McCain the 3rd week of the season without having to work for it and earn it. Johnson WAS the starterhe tore cartilage in his left knee during summer passing league, and then made it worse during the scrimmage against Charter Oak. By the time the season started against Diamond Ranch Johnson was severely hobbled by this injury. So when he didnt have the kind of games against D-Ranch and Pomona that were expected of him, McCain went with Kuenemann. If Johnson should be faulted for anything, it should be for not taking care of his injury when it first happened which would have been healed by the time the season started.

    As Chino Fan statedNico K. started and played against all of the doormat teamsOak Park, Northview, Garey (until he got kicked out), Ontario, Montclairetc. So of course this kid would look like a STARwho wouldnt against those teams??? But when playoff time came this sophomore STAR was driven 20 yards downfield and planted on his back on virtually every run play. It got so bad during the loss to Palm Springs that during halftime my kid told me the other linebacker (Velarde) and Nico Ks own brother Trestan were pleading with McCain to get Johnson in the game. But what does McCain do??? After benching Nico K., instead of putting Johnson in, he takes Jesse Rosas, one of the starting defensive lineman and puts him at the middle if thats not an insulting slap in the face, I dont know what it is. Nothing against Rosashes a fine athlete and one helluva noseguard, but everyone in the stands was shocked when that move was made. When McCain finally gave Johnson the chance to get in, all he did was record 6 unassisted tackles in a little more than 7 minutes.

    As far as Trestan K. goes.dont make me laugh! He was given the chance to play linebacker last season and wound up on the d-line next to Rosas because he was too slow to play the position. The only reason why Trestan K is being considered as a linebacker this year is because he has threatened to go back to Don Lugo (which is where he is originally from) if he didnt get the chance to play the position.and you want to talk about competitiveness???

    My son tells me that Niko Johnson and his family have gone back to West Covina and hes been welcomed back in his hometown with open arms. I say good for you Mr. Johnson and best of luckyoull be missed in Cowboy Country.

  • Cole Castaneda

    I could personally say niko Johnson is terrible. Once he comes into season everyone will see how terrible he is.

  • anonymous

    the kid sucks just like cole castaneda said, jesse rosas is 100x better than niko johnson at mlb he actually takes contact and doesnt go around blocks, you shouldve seen how bad he got yelled out during film its not even funny. but okay you guys can see hes a good one

  • CC Fan

    Hey Anonymouswere you in the film sessions?? Sounds as though you were, and if thats the case, then youre sure not the same person with a son on the team as you stated in your earlier blogswhich means all of your comments are bogus and meaningless.

    For whatever reason, it sounds like youve got a personal issue with JohnsonI mean seriously, if hes as bad as you say, then you should be glad that hes gone, so what difference does it make if he gets a little press because he transferred.

    One more thing…STOP with the Jesse Rosas @ middle linebacker campaign. He was a noseguard last year as a junior and two years ago as a freshman. The only time he played linebacker was his sophomore year and that was on the JV teamand thats because Johnson made varsity as a sophomore and Rosas didnt have any competition. As a matter of fact, 2 years ago when that JV team played Don Lugos JV team for the league championship at Lugo, I remember the coaches sending Johnson, Willie Morris, Christian Galvez, Cody Walsh and Alex Arellano the sophs who made varsity that year down to JV to make sure the Cowboys won the league championship. There are 2 things that stick out in my memory about that game#1 thats when that Hawk kid got his ankle dislocatedand #2 how Johnson started that game next to Rosas and how Johnson finished the game with 10 tackles and a sack while Rosas spent the game getting blockedand when he wasnt blocked he was trying to chase down a running back that was too quick for his slow-butt.

    If you truly believe that Rosas is betteryou should try selling the stuff youre smoking, you could make some serious money.

  • Chino Grad – Class of 2011

    WHAT THE $#@!…COLE WHO???

    Is this the same Cole Castaneda that WAS a linebacker and back-up to Ronnie Valdivia and Alex Martinez 2 yrs ago?

    The same guy who was moved to d-line because he was too clumsy and slow to play backer? The same Cole Castaneda who was NOT part of the linebacker group of Ronnie Valdivia, Alex Martinez, Ronnie Velarde, Brandon Palacios and a little sophomore named Niko Johnson?

    The same guy who got no offers to play after high school, who is as far as I know is doing nothing with his life, BUT who has taken every opportunity over the last 2 years to talk trash about Niko Johnson both on and off campus because hes still pd off that the coaches liked Johnson at linebacker instead of him? Let me guess Cole, Niko also had something to do with Gabe Padron stealing your chick, right???

    Sounds like a serious case of SOUR GRAPES.If Niko is so terrible, then what does that say about you??? MORON!!!

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