It’s been just about a year since the heavily favored West Covina High School football team sleepwalked into its season opener against El Rancho and left with a stunning double-digit loss. Bulldogs coach Mike Maggiore is doing everything he can this week to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself when his team opens the season with Covina on Friday night. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at West Covina High School.
“We’ve talked about it, and I hope we play with a little more hunger this year,” Maggiore said. “In football, it doesn’t matter early in the season what type of size or speed you have, it’s really about who wants it more. If the game means more to the other team than us, then we’re in trouble.”
Psyche isn’t the only thing Maggiore has to worry about this week. Covina’s high-flying offense, led by national champion sprinter Remontay McClain, is also weighing on his mind.
The Colts will try to get McClain the ball in many ways, but the show doesn’t stop there. Billy Livingston gives Covina one of the top quarterbacks around, and sophomore running back Gevontray Ainsworth could be yet another game-breaker in Covina coach Darryl Thomas’ arsenal.
“Every time he (McClain) touches the ball, he’s a threat to go the distance in a short amount of time,” Maggiore said. “Playing a team like Covina, who is a natural rival for us and has a good coaching staff, they worry us. It’s not going to be as easy. A lot of people may think that, but we’re anticipating a four-quarter game.”
The Bulldogs have some speed of their own. Running back B.J. Lee is also an accomplished sprinter on the track team and figures to get plenty of touches Friday.
Chino Hills not taking things lightly
Complacency is something that also cost the Chino Hills football team last year.
The Huskies, at times, often checked out mentally or took opponents lightly, and it cost them dearly. See their upset loss to Glendora as a prime example.
Letdowns, however, are something won’t be repeated this year if coach Derek Bub has his way, and the Huskies can prove it Friday night by not taking Mayfair lightly after beating the Monsoons last year by 24 points.
“We’ve tried to enforce to them that you have to come play and play solid football each and every week,” Bub said. “You can’t take weeks off, and it starts right now.”
Chino Hills, blessed with a bevy of returning starters, will be decided favorites on Friday at Mayfair High. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
Mayfair, though, also returns its fair share of players, and Bub’s thinking his team might be in for a tougher battle this time around.
“They’ve got some great skill kids,” Bub said of Mayfair. “I expect them to come out and play. We saw their scrimmage, and they return most of their guys from last year.”
Friday’s opener marks the first start for new Huskies quarterback Andrew Chavez. The junior had a big summer, guiding his team to a victory in the Bonita Air Assault passing tournament. Despite that, though, Bub says he won’t ask Chavez to do too much early on.
“This is the real thing, this is where it counts,” Bub said. “You can have a big summer all you want, but if you can’t perform on Friday nights, then it doesn’t matter.”
Chavez is surrounded by some of the best skill talent around in all-purpose threats Ifo-Ekpre Olomu and Nate Harris.
Ekpre-Olomu gave coaches a scare in last week’s scrimmage against Villa Park when he left the game with a sprained ankle, but Nate Harris went 65 yards for a touchdown on the next play.