By Aram Tolegian, Staff Writer
One would think revenge is on the mind of the Bonita High School football team as it heads into Friday’s showdown with West Covina, which used victories over the Bearcats to win the Hacienda League and CIF-Southern Section Southeast Division championships last season. But the Bearcats simply aren’t a good enough team at this point to focus on aesthetically pleasing things like avenging last year’s high-stakes losses to the Bulldogs, according to coach Eric Podley.
“Because of the way we’ve been playing this year, our focus is really on trying to put together a good game for ourselves,” Podley said. “We’re probably a little more concerned with trying to play as well as we can, regardless of the opponent.
“If we were playing well, the revenge factor would probably be more of a factor. Because we’re struggling a little bit, our full concentration is on us.”
Bonita started the season with a bang by beating rival San Dimas. The victory looks better and better with each passing San Dimas victory, but in games of their own, the Bearcats are just 1-3 since.
West Covina (5-1 overall, 2-0 in league) is starting to assert itself as the top team not only in league, but the Southeast Division as well. The Bulldogs have lost only to powerful Loyola in a game West Covina was without several key players. Since then, West Covina has won four consecutive and started league with easy victories over Diamond Bar and Walnut.
“We have to execute on both sides of the ball and play with a little more heart, courage and desire than we did against Diamond Ranch (to beat West Covina),” Podley said. “We did not look like an excited football team against Diamond Ranch. You can’t beat outstanding teams without those ingredients. We’re hoping to come back and display a little more heart and courage than we did last time out.”
Bonita put itself in a precarious position with its league-opening loss to Diamond Ranch two weeks ago. The Bearcats had a bye last week to think about it, but should they also lose to West Covina, any hopes of a league title and/or a second-place finish would appear bleak.
Simply salvaging a playoff berth may become the next order of business.
“They’re aware of it,” Podley said of his team and its understanding of the standings. “They’re not dumb guys. But like I said, our first concern is to play and execute as well as we possibly can. That’s something we haven’t done since the San Dimas game.”