Above: The West Covina coaching staff deals with injuries and losses to start 0-3, but the Bulldogs are on their way back.
By Fred J. Robledo
Victories, not schedule strength, appear to be the most important criteria each week when the CIF-Southern Section polls are released. After defending Southeast Division champion Charter Oak’s 35-25 loss to defending Central Division champion Rancho Cucamonga ended the Chargers’ 17-game unbeaten streak while extending the Cougars’ unbeaten streak to 18, the Chargers (3-1) were dropped to No. 4 in the Southeast polls.
Rowland (3-0) and Walnut (3-0) are first and second, respectively, but neither have wins over anyone significant. In fact, Rowland and Walnut share something more than just undefeated records – their opponents’ records are a combined, 2-8.
“It’s a strange world, isn’t it?” Bonita coach Eric Podley joked.
West Covina is not mentioned in the polls, although the Bulldogs’ 22-21 win over Glendora on Friday served notice and improved the Bulldogs to 1-3.
The Bulldogs’ opponents are a combined 10-3, and that includes tough losses to powers Venice and Bishop Amat. In fact, the Bulldogs were tied with the Lancers, 7-7, before losing 21-7 last week.
“I don’t worry a whole lot about the CIF rankings,” West Covina coach Mike Maggiore said. “When we won CIF in 2004, we won it as a third-place team and started on the road.
“We’re going to see Rowland and Walnut at some point. The most important thing is getting healthy and winning league, and those are still the goals.”
Defensive lineman Richard Tejada and defensive end Ryan McLaurin haven’t played since injuries in the season opener against El Rancho. Both are expected to return when they host Los Altos on Friday.
Also back is quarterback George Johnson, giving Maggiore more reason for optimism.
“Beating Glendora was huge, because that stopped the bleeding,” Maggiore said. “But it’s nice to see some of the guys you counted on (when the season started) start to get healthy again.”
As for Rowland’s No. 1 ranking, Maggiore feels it’s deserved.
“They have a great quarterback (Michael Ball), and the right system for him,” Maggiore said. “They lost a lot of seniors, so I’m a little surprised with how well they’re doing. But they’re so well-coached, so it shouldn’t surprise you that much.”