By Aram Tolegian, staff writer
The task of trying to slow down the West Covina High School football team this week goes to Diamond Ranch. And Panthers coach Roddy Layton appears just as perplexed as you might expect, given how unstoppable the Bulldogs have become. “Speed kills, so they’re good,” Layton said. “We’ve watched them on film and seen them live. They do a lot good of things, so pick your poison on offense – 1, 5, 20, 21, 84 – there are several (jersey) numbers.”
The reward for stopping the Bulldogs would be sweet for Diamond Ranch, which has played itself into contention for the Hacienda League title. The Panthers (5-3 overall) are tied for first place with West Covina in league at 4-0.
The Bulldogs (7-1) are on a seven-game winning streak and brutalizing opponents with a ground game that produces big plays as if it was a run-and-shoot passing attack.
Previously unbeaten Bonita was the latest victim Friday. West Covina went on a 41-0 run after being down 10-7 in the first quarter.
“I was kind of hoping the game would be more physical,” Layton said in hopes of having West Covina softened up. “I was hoping the two teams would beat each other up. But watching film, I didn’t see players from either side being carted off. So I don’t know if that game will have any effect on them.”
Diamond Ranch may fare better against the Bulldogs than Bonita simply because the Panthers have more team speed. But Layton said Monday containing West Covina
is about more than just trying to run with them.
“I’m a math teacher, so it comes down to geometry,” Layton said. “It comes down to angles. If you take the wrong angle, they’re gone. This week, we have to work on our angles. I don’t know if in a week’s time we’re gonna get faster than we already are. But traditionally we have good speed and you don’t see a lot of our players getting caught from behind, either.”
Layton said star tailback Chase Price, who missed last week’s game against Los Altos with an ankle injury, will be back in the starting lineup on Friday.
Bonita coach Eric Podley painfully watched the game film of Friday’s loss to West Covina and came away thinking all hope is not lost for his team.
“Without trying to rationalize anything, we felt a lot of our problems were problems that were self-created,” Podley said. “We gave up two kickoff returns for touchdowns and an interception return (for a touchdown). We were in the red zone seven times and came away with only two touchdowns and two field goals. Those are things we can control.”
Bonita’s season could go either way. The Bearcats, 7-1 overall and 3-1 in league, need a win over Rowland this week and for Diamond Ranch to beat West Covina. If that happens, Bonita will play Diamond Ranch the following week for a share of the Hacienda League title.
On the downside, if Bonita loses this week and next week, there’s a chance Bonita would miss the playoffs.
That scenario is hard to imagine for a team that was the talk of the first half of the season.
“We need to win out,” Podley said. “We understand it makes a big difference whether you make the playoffs or not, and who you play. That’s important because we’re yet to make it out of the first round in quite a while.
“There is a determination in the kids that we don’t want to end the season with (West Covina) being the memory of what our season was about. We want to seek some personal redemption.”