“He’s going to start off trying to win the quarterback position,” West Covina coach Mike Maggiore said. “He can play back, receiver, safety, corner, return kicks.He can play anything, but I see him playing quarterback.”
By Aram Tolegian
It’s possible that sophomore quarterback Antonio “Noodles” Hull will take the first snap when the West Covina High School football team makes its passing circuit debut later this month at the Rancho Cucamonga Tournament.
That’s saying something, considering Hull had limited experience on the varsity team after he turned 14 and was eligible to play with the big boys. The Bulldogs also return Jon Najera, who got ample experience at quarterback last season.
“He’s going to start off trying to win the quarterback position,” West Covina coach Mike Maggiore said. “He can play back, receiver, safety, corner, return kicks.
“He can play anything, but I see him playing quarterback.”
The Bulldogs began spring practice Monday. Unlike the past two years, the defending back-to-back CIF-Southern Section Southeast Division champions are lacking in star power. There is ample returning experience, but the likes of Chris Solomon, Beejay Lee, George Johnson and Justen Meaders are missing.
That’s where Hull and defensive end Justin Hornsby come in to play.
Hull has been hyped since arriving on campus as a freshman with the legacy of a strong youth football career with the Compton Vikings behind him. He played quarterback for West Covina’s freshman team last year before being called up to varsity later in the season. The 5-foot-10, 170-pounder is expected to be one of the Bulldogs’ top weapons this season.
Hornsby, who transferred last summer after being a starter his sophomore year at Rancho Verde, was denied eligibility by the CIF-SS and forced to sit out his junior season. Hornsby appears ready to be one of the area’s top defensive players. Maggiore thinks recruiters will soon be after the 6-2, 215 Hornsby once he gets more exposure.
Maggiore estimated his program has 180 players this spring, with several of them still part of the baseball team. Because of West Covina’s run-first offense, the Bulldogs rarely impress during the passing circuit, but this year may be slightly different with the unveiling of Hull. And that says nothing about how crazy it might get during the season.
“We would definitely run more option and more shotgun stuff with the quarterback being the second run option,” Maggiore said. “Those things (passing tournaments) are nice to see the guys compete, but we don’t put a whole lot of stock in that.
“Our game is based on play-action pass and the run game is going to set up a lot of the things we do.”