By Steve Ramirez
West Covina High School football coach Mike Maggiore thought he had it all figured out. But there was something he couldn’t plan for when the Bulldogs opened the 2009 season with a 28-17 loss at El Rancho last week – injuries. West Covina had it in droves. The Bulldogs lost all four of their captains, including their best offensive and defensive lineman Richard Tejada, linebacker/fullback Jesse Ili, fullback Charles Tucker and lineman Ryan McLaurin. “We lost Richard on the second play of the game,” Maggiore said. “I don’t want to make excuses and take away anything from El Rancho, because they did a good job, but when that happens, it kind of takes the wind out of your sails.”
Tejada, who sprained an ankle, is expected to be out three to four weeks. McLaurin is expected out a week, with Tucker and Ili possibly making it back this week.
The Bulldogs’ schedule also doesn’t get any easier. They travel to Venice this week before getting Bishop Amat and Glendora at home the following two weeks.
“This is an opportunity for our new kids to step up and play,” Maggiore said. “We just have to get better. It’s not going to get easier, but we just have to worry about ourselves.
“It’s never our goal to go undefeated (in nonleague play). Our goal is to improve each week and be ready to play for a league title.”
The Bulldogs did get a good effort from running back Rick Johnson, who rushed for 143 yards. But Maggiore
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also said the effort wasn’t there from the majority of his team.
“We didn’t play hard,” he said. “Our guys thought it was going to be easy and less physical and (El Rancho) came at us.
“They just wanted it more. Hopefully, we learned a valuable lesson. As long as we learn from it, we can get better.”