Southeast Division Championship
Who: West Covina (12-1) vs. La Serna (9-4)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Where California High School, Whittier
By Aram Tolegian, Staff Writer
There was no panic in the West Covina High School football team when standout running back Chris Solomon went down with an ankle injury in the first game of this season against Covina. With Jimmy Frazier around to fill the void, why would anybody panic? Solomon, the Tribune’s reigning Player of the Year, is hardly the type of player a team can simply replace. That is unless you’re West Covina and you have another outstanding ballcarrier like Frazier waiting in the wings.
For the Bulldogs, who are aiming for a second consecutive CIF-Southern Section Southeast Division championship on Friday night, Frazier may well be considered the team’s MVP. When Solomon went down, it was Frazier who picked up most of the slack and put together a pretty impressive season by rushing for 1,537 yards and 18 touchdowns.
And there’s still one game to be played, so Frazier will likely add to those numbers. The Bulldogs take on La Serna at California High on Friday night at 7 for the division championship.
“It hasn’t been a surprise to any of us,” West Covina coach Mike Maggiore said of Frazier’s play. “We knew what he was capable of. He’s just a natural running back.
“He kept us going while Solomon was hurt. Now we have both of them and they just kind of take turns.” (To continue click thread)
West Covina’s embarrassment of riches at running back runs deeper than just Frazier and Solomon. Aaron Salgado, the bruiser of the group, is 78 yards away from becoming the third Bulldogs running back to rush for over 1,000 yards this season.
For Frazier, the ability to make a stellar season out of limited opportunities has been what’s carried him to lofty statistics. Take for instance his game against Norwalk in the first round of the playoffs. Frazier got just five carries, but he ran for 188 yards and scored three touchdowns.
With so many ballcarriers needing their touches, none of West Covina’s backs can count on what running backs on another team would consider a normal workload.
“It does get a little frustrating sometimes, but it’s a team sport and you can’t think about yourself,” Frazier said of not getting the same amount of touches a running back would get on a team not so deep in talent.
“But honestly, I feel like that if we can all get the ball, we can all do something with it. If I went to a different school I maybe could do some of the things I’m doing now. But I’m grateful for being at West Covina and having what I have now.”
Frazier’s averaging over 13 yards per carry, so it’s clear he’s made the most of his opportunities. Beyond the stats, though, Frazier is a big reason why West Covina has 13 wins this season.
When Solomon went down, Frazier carried the load. He ran for 260 yards and three touchdowns in West Covina’s close win over rival South Hills. Performances like that are a big reason why, outside of a loss to Loyola when even Frazier was hurt, the Bulldogs were able to keep winning despite injuries.
“I knew I was going to get a certain amount of carries this season, but I didn’t think it would be as much as it is now,” Frazier said.
“My friend Chris (Solomon) went down and I felt it was my job to come in and fill that spot. I’ve done a really good job, but I have to thank my line. Without my line, I wouldn’t be running through those holes.”
Like Solomon, Frazier combines speed with the ability to break tackles. But whereas Solomon might simply run over a tackler, Frazier either avoids them altogether or gives tacklers angles so poor that no tackle can be made.
Doing that has given the Bulldogs not one, but two big-play threats at running back. It’s also given Maggiore a perfect change of pace back to throw at opposing defenses once Solomon and Salgado have worn them down.
“He has great vision,” Maggiore said. “He seems to see things before they happen. He can take something looks like a five-yard gain and make someone miss and he’s not even looking at the kid.”
Frazier played his youth ball for the West Covina Bruins and Covina Vikings. He entered West Covina High as part of a class that’s bidding to do something truly special by winning back-to-back CIF-SS championships.
With the Bulldogs a win away from consecutive 13-1 seasons and two CIF-SS titles, Frazier is ready to end his career with another smashing performance.
All that stands in his way is La Serna.
“They kind of are in the way and we want to make a legacy for ourselves of being back-to-back CIF champs,” Frazier said. “They’re a really good team and we can’t take them lightly. We have to play one down at a time and play West Covina football.”