By Aram Tolegian, Staff Writer
Football success is nothing new for the Ainsworth family. It’s just that usually it takes place at Monrovia or Duarte high schools. Not Covina. All that changed this season, thanks to the latest Ainsworth to don football pads and entertain the Valley with his gridiron exploits. Gevontray Ainsworth, the son of former Duarte standout quarterback Greg Ainsworth, has made quite a name for himself as the leading rusher at Covina (11-1), which will host Monrovia (8-3) on Friday in a game that may feel a little weird for the Ainsworth family and Monrovia fans with an historical perspective on what that family has meant to their school’s football tradition.
Kickoff for the CIF Mid-Valley Division semifinals showdown is at 7 p.m. at Covina District Field.
“Everybody (in my family) has been waiting for this big game and it’s finally here,” Gevontray Ainsworth said. “I thought this could happen because Monrovia is a really good and we’re a really good team.”
Greg Ainsworth knows his son is probably too young to understand just how odd it will be for older area fans to see an Ainsworth in a Covina uniform with several Ainsworth family members sitting in the Covina stands while the Monrovia team and community are on the other side of the stadium.
The Ainsworth tradition goes back a long way and most local fans probably recall a time when at least one Ainsworth was making an impact on the Valley’s football landscape.
In the 1980s it was Kim Ainsworth, a standout quarterback at Monrovia on some of the Wildcats’ best teams in school history. Greg Ainsworth also was a standout quarterback in the early 1990s, but he played at Duarte and earned All-CIF honors before playing at Mt. SAC and later Oregon State.
In the late 1990s Mike Ainsworth, Gevontray’s uncle, was a star receiver at Monrovia in an era when the Wildcats reached three consecutive CIF championship games. Mike Ainsworth’s career earned him a scholarship to play at Cal.
And now there’s Gevontray who, despite being only a junior, is the driving force of Covina’s ground game. He has rushed for 1,361 yards and nine touchdowns this season. At 5-foot-11, 190 pounds, Gevontray figures to make his way onto the radar screens of college recruiters during the offseason. But before that, he wants to help send Covina’s senior class out in style.
To do so, he will have to get through a Monrovia team that is loaded with players Ainsworth knows from back in the day when he was a part of the Duarte Hawks youth football program. Most of those former teammates ended up at Monrovia or Duarte, but family circumstances required Gevontray move to Covina.
“When Gevontray moved into our area and checked in, I knew the tradition of that family and what we were getting,” Colts coach Darryl Thomas said. “It’s been very, very special. We’re happy that he’s here.”
Gevontray Ainsworth honors his father Greg and his uncle by wearing No. 10, their former number. On Friday night there will be no doubt which side of the stadium the family will sit on. Even for Uncle Mike, who will forgo being on the side of his alma mater in order to root on his nephew.
With so many connections to the Duarte/Monrovia area, Greg Ainsworth knows it will be a little strange for himself and his friends to see the family lineage continue in a Colts uniform while Monrovia is the opponent. Greg has another son on the team, too. Greg Ainsworth is a senior defensive back who sees time in Covina’s secondary.
“Monrovia has always been a rival for me no matter what because I went to Duarte,” Greg Ainsworth said. “I don’t think Gevontray really understands the difference. It’s an age thing.
“I’m a Covina fan, no doubt. That’s my son, he’s wearing my number out there. I hear it from them (Monrovia people) all the time. They say, `You should have brought them here, we’re gonna beat you guys.’
“Especially this week, my phone has been ringing a lot. It would feel good to beat them.”
Gevontray Ainsworth has fully bought into Thomas’ knack for blurring out the outside world in exchange for concentrating on the opponent and bigger goal.
“There’s nothing special, we’re focused on taking it game by game,” Gevontray Ainsworth said. “Right now, we’re just focused on beating Monrovia. I just want to do it for all the seniors that are here.”