By Aram Tolegian
Covina High School football coach Darryl Thomas is like most Colts fans these days. He’s hoping a year older equals a year better as his team begins practice for the upcoming season. Covina started 13 sophomores last season and still made the playoffs, including quarterback Billy Livingston. Livingston was showing off an offseason’s worth of improvement as the Colts held their second day of practice on Friday afternoon. (To continue, click thread).
The Colts return such top players as Livingston and wide receiver Remontay McClain, who stamped himself as the fastest high school athlete in the country when he won CIF state titles in the 100 in 10.35 and then won the 200 meters in June.
“Of course, when you have the fastest guy in the country, you want to see what he can do,” Thomas said. “We’d be stupid if we didn’t. With a veteran quarterback – Billy’s learned a lot this offseason – we’re definitely going to see what he can do as well.”
Adding intrigue to Covina’s offense is sophomore running back Gevontray Ainsworth, who looks physically ready to handle the load at the varsity level.
Finishing third this season in the Valle Vista League won’t guarantee Covina a spot in the Mid-Valley Division playoffs like it did last year.
Covina opens the season on Sept. 3 against West Covina.
Now that the division has added the Almont League and subtracted no other leagues, the only guaranteed playoff spots go to the first- and second-place teams in each league.
That means Covina has to find a way to beat either San Dimas or Baldwin Park and hold off teams such as Wilson and Pomona.
“Kids are kids,” Thomas said. “I think they understand that our league got bigger, however we lose a playoff spot. I don’t even understand that math. They know that only two are guaranteed and we need to be one of those two. It’s going to be a dog fight every week.”
For now, Thomas has his team reviewing the fundamentals of the playbook and conditioning. Putting on the pads happens Monday and that’s when the experience gained from last season is expected to start paying off.
“We had 3 1/2 weeks off,” Thomas said. “We’re just reviewing what we did all summer. We’re a little bit more experienced, but we’re still kind of young.
“The assistant coaches and I are talking about how we’re really far more advanced than we were at this time last year. At this time last year, we had guys barely getting hair on their chests. Now we have guys who are a little bit more mature.”