Covina, welcome back to the spotlight: Livingston brings back memories of the McDonough years

By Aram Tolegian, Staff Writer
Five years ago, the Covina High School football team was riding a high-flying offense led by a special quarterback and a stellar cast of skill players. The 2005 Colts, behind two-time Tribune Player of the Year Mike McDonough, went on a two-year run that earned them two Valle Vista League titles and two semifinals appearances. Something eerily similar is taking place right now on the corner of Hollenbeck and Puente, and at the center of it is junior quarterback Billy Livingston. (To continue, click thread).

Covina is 6-1, with Livingston putting up huge numbers just like McDonough did. The Colts are averaging 32 points per game. The 2005 team at this point was averaging 46 through seven games against a weaker schedule.

“That’s tough to say right now,” Covina offensive coordinator Joe Brown said when asked if this team might have similar success. “We’re still in the middle of the season. That ’05 and ’06 group was special. We’ll have to wait and see.”

Nobody will have to wait long. That’s because Covina will play its two toughest league games in the next three weeks.

The first comes Thursday against Baldwin Park, which already has toppled league champ San Dimas and might put a stranglehold on first place if it can do the same to Covina.

Kickoff is 7 p.m. at Covina District Field.

Much like the McDonough teams, Covina’s success starts with an offense that few teams can slow. Livingston is the distributor making it all happen, as evidenced by his 1,790 yards passing and 16 touchdowns.

It’s the same spread Brown ran when McDonough used his arm and legs to burn opposing defenses. With Livingston, though, the damage is mainly done with his arm.

“He has the arm and the ability, but it’s his decision-making skills that make him good,” Brown said of Livingston. “It was a bit different with McDonough. He was more instinct. He would see the open guy and get the ball to him. Billy will look at his pre-snap reads and have a pretty good idea what to do with it.”

Nobody’s mastered the art of pre-snap reads better than Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, so it’s no surprise that Livingston was in Louisiana in July learning from Manning at his quarterback camp. And not just Manning played a role in his development, but Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy, too.

“I needed to perfect the little things,” Livingston said. “My dad wanted me to go (to Louisiana) because it was a great opportunity. It was too hot for me, but I got to see a lot different talent from around the country.

“McElroy was helping me on my release and actually really taught me quite a bit.”

Livingston became Covina’s starter in Week 4 last season after he came off the bench with Covina trailing 21-0 in the second quarter. It was obvious right away that he was something special. Livingston guided Covina to a 27-21 lead before the Colts ended up losing 34-27.

With an offseason of physical improvements in the weight room and mental improvements at various camps, Livingston has stamped himself one of the top throwers in a Valley loaded with talented arms.

Livingston fired two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to help Covina hand West Covina its only loss of the season in the opening game for both schools. Two weeks ago against Wilson, Livingston sat out the first quarter with a sprained foot. But once head coach Darryl Thomas put him in the game, Covina came alive and turned a 3-0 deficit into a 24-3 lead at halftime.

“He’s a product of hard work,” Thomas said. “He loves football. He loves the film work. He loves to study it and research. His favorite movies would probably be football movies.”

It’s obvious the numbers are going to be there for Livingston, but what will put him in McDonough’s class and his team on the same level as the ’05 and ’06 teams, are tangible results. And that starts with a league title, which probably won’t happen if Livingston can’t get his team past Baldwin Park on Thursday.

“They’re a really good team with some really good athletes,” Livingston said of the Braves. “We’re taking it one game at a time, and this week it’s Baldwin Park. That’s all we’re focusing on.”

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    GO BRAVES !!!!

  • A

    Let’s see Jim Arellanes loses 10 straight at NV
    Moves on to lose another 10 straight at LA
    This is not due to athletes
    Wake up this is pure and simple horrible coaching.

  • Joe

    Where is Mike McDonough Now? wasn’t smart enough to go the next level?

  • FredJ

    Joe, why make such a mean comment?

  • Living Legend

    Joe: most kids are not “smart” enough to get to the next level. What are you some kind of joke less then 1% of kids who play high school football in this country play at the next level! So are they all not “smart” enough, while he may not of had the grades or the speed or the height to play at the next level I’ll tell what McD was though he was a hell of a high school football player who scored over 100 TDs in 2 years while also being only 1 of 2 back to back POY. So instead of trying to attack the kid how about just enjoy the fact he was a great high school football player, thats it a high school football player just like most other kids who play this game.

  • mcdonough supporter

    mike mcdonough was the best player in the valley for a couple of years. i know mcdonough personaly and i been to all the covina games no disrespect to livingston but hes not even close to mcdonough in any way. mike was just a flat out better player then him. billy is good but mike was on another level

  • Amat Honk

    **My 2 cents that you didn’t ask for but are going to get anyway….Why are so many people Riding this new coach at Los Altos? Isn’t this his first year at the reigns? If I remember correctly things weren’t going all that well before he got there either right? How about some support, not only for the coaching staff but how about your players? Trust me if you’re poisoning the well at home with the players it will carry over to their performance and respect for the coaches on the field.

  • aaaa

    Amat honk

    Have you seen Jim Arellanes call plays at a game
    He has no business coaching
    Why was the Bellflower game 20 18?
    Because tibbs was on the sidelines after 4 fumbles in the first half.The points were made in the second half. Go watch him coach and you will no longer support him.

  • Happy Colts

    You can tell Aram back in town. Two threads about the colts…

  • Colt74

    Its fun to see the Covina supporters all hyped up at how well the COLTS are doing ( so far ) this season. I hope this support continues for the rest of the season no matter of wins/losses.

    McDonough was in with a select class of players that few get to witness in their lifetimes. Players can be taught to be great but only a select bunch are born with that little extra that people can’t quite put their fingers on, but they know it is there. IMHO McDonough was one of those.

    Livingston is a VERY good athlete and a great leader for the COLTS. Ask any COLT. He doesn’t need to prove he’s as good as McDonough. He only needs to prove he’s as good as Livingston.So far I don’t think there are many doubters.

    One thing that really struck me was during the Wilson game. A COLT player was hurt and there was a stoppage of game for a while. The quarterbacks were warming up by themselves, tossing the ball. The rest of the team was over to the side and warming up. One of the kids in the main group called out ” Hey Billy…Come over and lead us in warm ups !” By itself that request means nothing. In the grand scheme of things it says it all …

    ” Hey Billy…Come lead us ! ”

    IMHO the COLTS couldn’t ask for a better leader.

  • Joe Amat

    Amat Honk,

    Out of everybody, at Amat we should know how much coaching matters and how the right guy with the right approach can change things for the better right away. The last two big coaching changes Amat has made after “trouble” Hagerty did a 180 with the football team and Lokar won a CIF Championship in his 1st year with the boys basketball team. I think the biggest thing both of them did was earn the support of the parents and win them over right away.That doesn’t seem the case at either school in the Heights. Add to that the successes that Nieto, Salter, and Martinez all had in their 1st seasons and we should understand the coach’s ability to make an improvement or be successful right away.

  • Colt74

    The COLTS are gonna buck the BRAVES right off that high horse they are sitting on.
    As a matter of fact…that should be the War Cry for the COLTS this week…..



  • Amat Honk

    Joe-Agreed, BUT…it doesn’t appear that this guy was ever given a chance. He has been dogged since the day his name was just a rumor. Plus Amat’s Hagerty, Salter and even Nieto had a sense of “Finally!” to them. They also had accomplished “good things” at their previous assignments. This guy was a “Hopeful” who (it appears) never got a chance. I have no ties and/or allegiance to the guy, it just seems that he never got a chance and these parents are coming down pretty hard on him. Of course expectations are high but let’s be realistic, he is not a Hagerty, Salter, Nieto, Gano, Magoirre, Bogan etc, etc…? Everybody deserves a chance to do their best, learn from your first season successes/mistakes, learn your personnel and try to put it back together the next year right? One year and half a season at that and already they are calling for his head!!! Who WOULD want to coach under those conditions? Just my opinion.

  • good qb not great

    mike mcdonough and the 05-06 covina class was just loaded with talent. if covina would of played in the division back then you better believe their back to back CIF CHAMPS with mcdonough at QB. Mcdonough played MLD AND RB and was just a beast on the field. i dont wanna knock livingston but hes not at mcdonough level yet. ithink livingston is one of the best QBS in the area and will have another good year next year but you only see a talent like mcdonough once in a life time.

  • I’m happy for Coach DT and his staff that they have another excellent group. The ’05-’06 teams would have won CIF titles if they were in the proper division.

    It would be great to see Covina get a CIF title with this group.

  • C-Town

    Thinks are looking great at C-Town right now. The J.V are 6-1 and Frosh are 5-1-1. I hear the frosh have a group that is pretty talented, big and physical. I will b there this week to b able to see them in person. So it looks like good things ahead for the Colts in the next few years.

  • Dan

    Would like to see C-Town make a deep run this year, they showed heart in that 4th qtr. against our team. From what I understand they have most of this team coming back next year don’t they? Could be another team like their 05/06 years. That would make for a great game in week zero at CDF next season when they play WC.

  • bait car 73

    if you wanna see what mike mcdonough been up to the last couple of years check out BAIT CAR 73 ON YOUTUBE.

  • A

    joe Amat

    Riding this new HEAD coach at LA ?
    Who supports losers with no offensive scheme no one wake up.
    If it were up to parents Pop warner coaches are better this is bad if not the worse in California.

  • bait car #73

    all this hype bout mcdonogh, where is he now??? i know he was arrested on TV lol.. go to youtube n type in bait car #73…livingston hope u have a better future and stay in school

  • 2007

    mcdonough on the field was amazing to watch but i guess he never learned how to stay out of trouble of the field. livingston is good but not not even close to mcdonough on the field.while billy is getting water chilling waiting on the defense mcdonough played MLB chasing down the opponents RB. he was a special talent and who knows if covina will ever see another player like him…..

  • SD

    Sorry yea you cant compare Billy to Mike…. but its also not a comparison…. its like saying Mike Vick and Sam Bradford like two completely different styles… Billy is more of a pocket passer and can move around but Mike was just he could run and throw.. people would be so scared of him running they would get caught up in the running and let him pass… dont get me wrong one of the best athletes around ever but… who cares this is the present and billy has the tools for the next level… So did Mike but what is he doing now? Billy do great in school kid you have all the tools to get to the next level keep it up!

  • Steve

    Amat Honk & Joe Amat, it is not so many people riding new Los Altos coach. It is just 1 loser parent who’s kid was kicked off the team because he was an individual and NOT in any way shape or form a team player. It is too bad because if you watched this team play Bonita last week, the Trib’s #3 ranked team, you would have seen big time improvements from the Conquerors. They still lost but there were improvements and things to build on for a young football team in arguably the toughest league in the SGV…so Gio’s daddy can keep making all the negative comments he wants…good luck to you and your son and keep your heads up Conquerors!

  • saladays

    Joe Amat and Amat Honk,

    You know when have the right guy right away and unfortunately you know when you don’t have the right guy just as fast. When a coach shows up rolls up his sleeves and get to work you have a chance. But unfortunately some of these guys are just here to collect a check. Once you start getting the excuses and complaints well its pretty much over. Is Los Altos the most talented team? Of course not, but they should be strong, in great conditon and they should be prepared. These things have nothing to do with talent.

    p.s. I’m hoping that Santa Margarita and Bishop are headed for a crash course followed by the winner playing De La Salle. Talk about a couple of unbelievable weeks Welch, Haggerty and Lad!!

  • cov80

    good luck c town thurs nite kick some AZZ

  • John T.

    Went and watched Mike Mcd on YOU TUBE that is very sad to see this kid turned out that way, but DNA and upbringing is everything. His mom and Dad created a great athlete but not a great person. He gets that bad apple in his blood from one side of the family or maybe even a combo of both families. His Mom seemed very nice during JAA and I never met his dad, maybe he was raised single parent? nonetheless when you are the king player at a HS and you could get away with just about everything and you feel you can take that into true life you will be in for trouble. Look at Mike he is getting upset claiming this is not his first rodeo? He has warrants etc. Loved watching this kid play from JAA to HS. Too bad he turned out this way.

  • p8

    i know mike i went to high school with him all 4 years. mikes a great guy and very talented. i agree its sad to see him end up like that but thats the life he wanted. im not trying to defend him but he was a guy who never got away with anything at covina high. mike father was never around so im sure it was tough growing up. best of luck to covina thrusday and stay out of trouble mike.

  • Covina fan

    Much of the blame has to be pinned on his MOM, Has anybody ever talked to this lady? Yes she is very sweet and nice, but when it comes to her son, WOW, that is all she talks about. he never did anything wrong and its always someone elses fault. Her claim to fame is living off of what Mike did in H.S. football. now we are here many years later and she still cant stop talking about his on the field achievements. Yes he was a great football player, we get it. You shouldve been more worried about raising a great young man, his football achievements wouldve come regardless. Sad situation to see.

  • pac man

    to covina fan

    i agree with you on everything that you said about his mom she needs to get over it. i know mike for about 10 years and his mom never set the proper example for him to follow. she would let him do things that he was not supposed to be doing at that age but i really dont wanna get into that in detail. mike mom has noyone but herself to blame. im telling you this cuz ive seen it with my two eyes

  • Uuuhhh, What???

    Really people? I’m sure doting mommy has a lot to do with it BUT Mr. Mike gets 100% of the blame for making bad choices. At some point you have to grow up and take responsibility for yourself and accept responsibility for the poor choices you make. Maybe you give Mike’s mom the credit for the first few mistakes because she armed him with bad judgement but after that…it’s all on Mike! If you stick your hand in the fire because nobody told it would burn, then the first burn is on your gaurdian. IF you keep burning your hand by sticking it in the flames then you are the problem and you have no one to blame but yourself. Im sick of our blame everyone else society! Blame everyone except the dumb a$$ that keeps doing wrong, it’s no wonder this country is going to hell in a handbasket!


    i agree with you that mike has to take responsibility for his actions. you would not believe what mikes mom allowed to go on at their home its was just bad parenting. wend your a kid your mom has to set rules like it or not and she did not. i know mike a long time since middle school and always has been humble and respectful but the people he hangs around with are bad news. i just sad to see him end up like this with so much guys would be in for a surprise if you guys new what went on at his house during high school. the only person to blame is mcdonough mom.


    i agree with you that mike has to take responsibility for his actions. you would not believe what mikes mom allowed to go on at their home its was just bad parenting. wend your a kid your mom has to set rules like it or not and she did not. i know mike a long time since middle school and always has been humble and respectful but the people he hangs around with are bad news. i just sad to see him end up like this with so much guys would be in for a surprise if you guys new what went on at his house during high school. the only person to blame is mcdonough mom.


    i agree with you that mike has to take responsibility for his actions. you would not believe what mikes mom allowed to go on at their home its was just bad parenting. wend your a kid your mom has to set rules like it or not and she did not. i know mike a long time since middle school and always has been humble and respectful but the people he hangs around with are bad news. i just sad to see him end up like this with so much guys would be in for a surprise if you guys new what went on at his house during high school. the only person to blame is mcdonough mom.

  • Bones

    Comparing Mike to Billy is like comparing apples and oranges. I expect Covina to make it deep in the postseason. Hope we see Azusa in the playoffs…payback!

  • jody mc donogh

    How dare you insult me as a mother. Do any of you know what it is like to be a single mother of 5 kids. Do any of you talk about how my daughter is top of her class in nursing school and was awarded an honored internship at usc hospital. Or know one talks about my son davids great grades and citizenship or how his teachers all love him at covina high school. Does anyone talk about the example I tried to set for my children by puting my self through college with 3children and receiving a degree. Did I not try to set an example to them being on the deans list or receiving acadamic scholastic awards. For academic excellence. Or maybe volunteering 10 years of my life to the children of covina which put out athletes like rio ruiz at bishop or george johnson qb for west co. Or most of the much talked about covina colts team that is in the limelight right now. Or all of the many great athletes that me and my children volunteered our time to help develop. Oh yes I have many accomplishments besides my sons success. I have many covina viking sons out there who I am basking in there success as well. I was the president of one of the best jaa football programs in the sgv who’s players will feed and have fed your blog conversations in the past and in the years to come. None of you know what its like for a woman to raise a man. Its not easy let me tell you. Especially one who was so strong headed and strong willed. Mike is no angel iv always said that, but he is not the pathetic loser you make him out to be. What life has he chosen? He was arrested for a traffic warrant on tv. That is bad luck. He was never covicted of anything regarding anything on that show. That is not an excuse that is the truth. I dare any of you big mouth haters to prove anthing different. Mike is 21, he’s made some mistakes but nothing major for god sakes. I myself have been exposed to over 100000 kids over the last 10years. And have seen many with issues. I can only pray that the y will eventually see the light and turn things around.
    None of you will ever know what it is like having the spot light on your child and having everything he does brought out into the light. If only we could follow you around and shine a light on the skeletons in your closets I’m sure we would find things too. I want to thank all of you for turning something that should be tresured into a curse for myself and my son. One thing I always tried my hardest to be was a good mother and there for my children. As well as many other children who ever needed me. And for you to say the heartless comments you have made. You have turned this football blog into a tabloid and have focused every thing off of what is really suppose to be about. Be carefull who you pass judgement on. Because the same judgement will someday be passed on you! In closing. I will say something that none of you will never have the pleasure of saying from your lips….I’M PROUD OF MY SON MICHAEL MCDONOUGH MCD LEGENDARY HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PLAYER. SGV TRIBUNES 2 TIME POY, BACK TO BACK. SGV TRIBUNES ALL PURPOUSE OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE DECADE, what father mother grandparent wouldn’t talk about that type of an accomplisment BE REAL||||| . I’m proud of him as a son and as a man and will wait for the day for him to prove all you. Wrong.untill then stop talking about me and my son . None of you personally know us because if you did, you would never say the things you have said.

  • Dan

    Well do some of you feel stupid now with that gossip about Mike McDonough and his mom? We all make mistakes in life, what matters is how we finish, not how we start. Jody McD, both you and Mike are not finished in life, good luck to both you and your family.

  • another parent

    You know the truth, as hurtful as these comments might be, consider the source of who’s writing them, anonymous faces. You are not a celebrity and your only fault was having a gifted athlete that put you in this limelight, you need not to explain anything to anyone about past, present or future.
    Opinions are like A$$holes, everyone has one. This is a public forum where this battle doesn’t need to be picked, let them trash talk, again, YOU know the truth, they don’t.

  • Hard to tell. I doubt either team will go all the way to the Super Bowl again. It’s a good time to make Superbowl bets though, the odds are really high.

  • I know this is really boring and you are skipping to the next comment, but I just wanted to throw you a big thanks – you cleared up some things for me!

  • Yeah i did see it, that house washing looks real good. That pressure washing crew does a great job.

  • Actually the New York Jets are one of the top three strongest Super Bowl contenders at the moment. I would make a Superbowl futures bet on them while the odds are really high.

  • We are a group of volunteers and starting a new project in our community. Your blog provided us with valuable information to help us get started|.You have done a marvellous job!

  • Man, that sounds rough. But really, next time get that Knoxville TNpressure cleaning service that really will do deck washing the right way

  • This is probably one of the best mentions of this topic I’ve seen in quite a while. It’s obvious that your knowledge of the subject is deep and this made for a very interesting read.

  • Just enjoy commenting for the sake of it. It makes whoever posted the blurb be aware that somebody cares. and we do!