West Covina returns to the scene of the crime on Friday night when it takes on La Serna in a rematch of last year’s CIF-Southern Section Southeast Division championship game, in which the Bulldogs put an all-time beatdown on the Lancers with an 84-21 win.
The two teams will be back at California High on Friday, but this time there’s no championship on the line. Just major revenge for the Lancers and a chance to play in next week’s title game for both teams.
Although West Covina is a much different team with a much different roster from last season, they’re still the two-time defending division champions and represent the culprit in the most embarrassing loss in La Serna’s history.
“I guess I’m trying to downplay that part of it,” Maggiore said of last year’s 84-21 score. “On the bus going home, I said I wished it was 35-14. I didn’t want that to happen, but it’s hard to tell the kids not to play.”
West Covina jumped all over La Serna in last year’s title game behind the likes of Chris Solomon, Jimmy Frazier, Justen Meaders and Dorrin Turner. All of them graduated in June and the Bulldogs now feature a roster of several guys playing out of position due to a season-long injury bug that’s caused coaches to shuffle the starting lineups on seemingly a weekly basis
Last week, junior Henry Tarin became the Bulldogs’ third quarterback of the season when he stepped in for injured Jon Najera so that back-up quarterback Antonio “Noodles” Hull could remain at running back. Tarin will likely see considerable time under center again this week.
Although several key cogs from last year’s La Serna’s team have also graduated, there are plenty who still remember the embarrassment on the roster. None more important than junior quarterback Frankie Palmer, who has become arguably the top player in the division.
La Serna has been a force this season. The Lancers are 11-1 and haven’t lost since a setback against Norco on Sept. 21. West Covina is 8-4 and riding a four-game win streak that has seen the Bulldogs knock off league champions Paramount and Muir in the first two rounds of the playoffs.
“They’re much better than they were last year,” Maggiore said of La Sernra. “You can tell they’re much more confident. They’re a great football team and it’s going to be tough.”