Off and Running: Bulldogs backfield has bite

By Aram Tolegian, Staff Writer
The West Covina High School football team is running its way to a CIF-Southern Section Southeast Division championship. What type of running? Well that depends on which ball carrier of the several that Bulldogs coach Mike Maggiore has to choose from is handling the rock. There’s speedster Beejay Lee. Then there’s bruiser Aaron Salgado. There’s also Jimmy Frazier and Charles Tucker, who combine a little of Salgado’s bruising style with a hint of Lee’s speed. Last but not least, the star of the group is Chris Solomon, who has breakaway speed, good power and cutback ability. With a group so talented, it’s no wonder that West Covina (12-1) will take on Bonita (12-1) for the division title at 7 p.m. Friday at Walnut High. (To continue, click thread

“We kind of knew going into the season that we were going to be strong at running back,” Maggiore said. “I’ve never coached a group of guys like this. You maybe get one or two of them that are good at one time. As a coach, you’re extremely comfortable giving the ball to any of these guys.”

Solomon has gotten it the most this season, and he’s made defenses pay to the tune of 1,790 yards and 20 touchdowns. Only a junior, Solomon has become the Bulldogs’ go-to back and he’s delivered in the biggest games.

In West Covina’s first game against Bonita, Solomon ran for 190 yards and three touchdowns. He also took a kickoff back 98 yards for a score. Lee added 78 yards and two touchdowns in that game, and also took a kickoff back for a touchdown.

“I knew we had a lot of running backs; we always called ourselves the USC of high school football,” Lee said.

“But I didn’t know we were going to be this good. For all of our running backs to be this good, it’s incredible. I didn’t expect this to happen at all.”

For a team that prides itself on the run and doing things with brute force, the Bulldogs can pile up points so fast that you’d think they were a finesse passing team.

Against Diamond Bar, the Bulldogs had six touchdown drives that took less than a minute. That night, Salgado joined Solomon in running wild; the 5-foot-9, 195-pound sophomore had 136 yards and two scores.

“I’m just trying to protect the middle and make sure that Chris and Beejay get their eight-to-10 yards per rush,” said Salgado, who typically finds himself being a lead blocker.

“I’m usually just trying to get the first down on third-and-2 or third-and-4, but if anything were to break out like in the Diamond Bar game, then that’s just good line play right there.”

To a man, every West Covina back says none of their success would be possible were it not for the horses clearing the way in front of them. West Covina’s offensive line has grounded opposing fronts so well that the running attack averages a staggering 340 yards rushing per game.

“This year’s offensive line has been outstanding,” Solomon said. “Last year I thought was going to be our best offensive line, but this year’s line has shown me they’re way better than last year’s line.”

As with any great offense in a championship setting, there will be no secret as to what means West Covina will use in order to beat Bonita and hoist its second CIF title in seven years. All of West Covina’s opponents have known what’s coming, but none has been able to stop it. Solomon wonders whether Bonita’s second chance will be any different than the first.

“Bonita knows what we run,” Solomon said. “We are a run-first team. It’s going to be run, run, run, pass.

“But can Bonita stop it?”

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  • bigdog

    Just doesn’t seem like play-offs not having BA,CO or DR in the mix this time of year.Its a little boring not so mush West Covina but Bonita well what can you say? Fred i don’t think your even excited about this game!

  • Bulldog Fan For Life

    To all the Bulldog football players…play hard and take it all in. Whatever happens on Friday, we are all proud of you and what you’ve accomplished. Thank you all for a GREAT season! To the coaches, thanks for all the dedication not only to the program but to our boys individually. God bless you and may God bless the Bulldogs on Friday night! GO BULLDOGS!!!

  • Bulldogs have bite

    Let’s not forget to mention qb George Johnson. He makes huge plays with his feet and is a big part of West Covina’s rushing attack. He would be a star rb on a lot of teams around the sgv.

  • Bob Bradstreet

    Go Bulldogs.

  • Jackboy

    Great Job Bonita, We just keep on playing for CIF championships!
    Its always better to be playing in them than watching, right bigdog, Nothing boring about that.
    To all the coaches in all Bonita Sports programs;
    Great job! Its nice that you have created a culture of winning with class.
    To the student athletes;
    Have fun!
    Go Bearcats!

  • yawn

    i rather watch the mid valley finals than this one boring its like watching La Habra play for their fourth straight cif championship

  • SGV

    Tucker and Frazier should not even be in this pitcure. They have no impact at the running back spot. Who gets the ball when a 1st down is needed?

  • Hefe

    Yawn, totally agree.

    When is La Habra going to be moved out of the Southwest Division?

    It’s pathetic how they allow that sham to continue. Those other teams have NO shot against a much stronger program like La Habra.

    Those kids need to be playing in DI.

  • Huskies

    They should’ve added La Habra to the Sierra League! Would’ve been fun. Also Tucker and Frazier do get the ball here and there, without Tucker/Frazier and Salgado WC would be at about 220 YPG, which is a lot less than 350 YPG…

    BTW… Johnson would not start at RB with CO, SH, or Amat…….. or WC!!!

  • USC of Highschool Footballl hahahahahha:)

    That’s a joke!!!!
    YOu could never ever beat a D-1 team…
    Where were your USC running backs when you played Amat or Mater Dei?????

  • Dan

    That was weak, now why would you call out a couple kids like that? Tucker and Fraizer are both very hard working, with great team attitudes, who each have had several big moments during the season. Tucker would have been an SGV star if he hadn’t blew out his knee and missed his junior season last year. Think Jalen Moore but with more speed. Tore three ligaments in that injury, his knee still hurts till this day, along with an early season shoulder injury and a high ankle sprain from the Diamond Ranch game. Despite all this, this kid has had some tough physical runs during games and is at every practice wether in clothes or in pads, and guess what? He’s back again and ready to go this weak.

  • Bulldogs have bite

    I never specifically stated CO, SH, BA. Obviously those schools have talented backs of their own in Hart and Moore. Please use some reading comprehension before twisting around a point someone else has made. Johnson would not even start at rb for Corona Centennial wile you’re at it. My point is that Johnson is a solid runner and would be a great rb for a lot of sgv teams. Use your own logic in figuring out which teams those would be.

  • Huskies

    CC’s not in the SGV or else I would’ve thrown them in there too! There’s a big difference between being great and a STAR running back. You don’t even need logic for that. All I said was a simple fact, because if you can’t start at your own school then it’s not worth mentioning. No need to hype up a kid too much when he is already doing really well in his current role as a leader and QB! Especially, when what was stated was not true.

    GO WC!!!

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  • kh

    every guy looks scared….

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