BREAKING UPDATE After CIF officials toured Cal Hi on Wednesday, they approved the site for Friday’s game.
By Aram Tolegian, Staff Writer
After some deliberation, the CIF-Southern Section Southeast Division football championship game between West Covina and La Serna will be played at California High in Whittier. Kickoff is 7 p.m. on Friday. La Serna, which plays its home games at California, was urged by West Covina to move the site of the game to an alternate site nearby, but the Lancers would not budge because of a preference to play on a grass surface.
“To my understanding, their coach wants to play on their home field,” West Covina coach Mike Maggiore said. “The biggest thing is the surface. Cal High is mostly dirt. There’s not very much green when you see it on film. They think it’s to their advantage and it’s their home game so they have the right to do that.
“Our biggest thing was that Cal High only holds 4,000 people, 1,500 on our side and 2,500 on their side. I just think we’re probably going to have closer to 7,000 people at the game. It’s the only game around and we travel really well and I think they’re going to have more people than they think also.”
West Covina plays its home games on FieldTurf, which is artificial grass. Some coaches theorize FieldTurf is a faster surface than real grass and putting the faster team in a particular matchup on real grass may lessen any perceived edge in speed.
The schools had talked about playing at La Mirada or Fullerton High before La Serna’s preference of Cal High won.
“I would like to think our guys won’t be fazed by it,” Maggiore said of playing on real grass. “I just think they want to play on a natural surface to give his kids an advantage because they’re used to it and we’re not. I just think if you’re in the finals, you should play at a stadium that’s nice.
“We’ll play them anywhere. We’re just excited to play. But I think it’s going to be tough to fit all those people in there. I do feel bad for the people who are going to have to stand.”
The early season ankle injury that cost reigning Tribune Player of the Year Chris Solomon may be turning out to be a good thing as the season winds down.
Solomon is fresher than most other running backs would be at this point in the season and clearly has hit his stride while others may be wearing down. Solomon had his best game of the season last week against La Mirada, when he rushed for 290 and five touchdowns.
The performance was so impressive Maggiore said his star running back might be playing the best football of his career.
“I took him a few weeks to get back and comfortable, and then it took him a few more weeks to get in shape,” Maggiore said. “He’s only carried the ball 121 times, so he hasn’t had a huge workload this year so he’s fairly fresh. He’s running with a lot of purpose now. Last week, he turned it up a notch.
“He’s playing the best he has since he’s been here.”
Meaders will start
After being sick and missing some practice time last week, Bulldogs defensive end Justen Meaders sat out the first two series of West Covina’s win over La Mirada. Meaders later left the game and did not return after getting the wind knocked out of him.
Meaders will start Friday and is 100 percent, according to Maggiore.
“We were up by 30 points at the time,” Maggiore said of why Meaders didn’t return against La Mirada. “He’s fine. He’ll start.”