“There’s no question that’s more about reputation and the last impression we left with people. People see what we’ve done so the expectations are just there. But the truth is we’re replacing four offensive linemen and other key spots. I don’t think you really know what you’ve got until you start playing.” — West Covina coach Mike Maggiore on why everyone thinks the Bulldogs are huge favorites to win a third Southeast title.
By Fred J. Robledo, Staff Writer
What made West Covina High School’s back-to-back CIF-Southern Section Southeast Division football championships so impressive was how it flexed its muscles and ran past opponents with ease.
The Bulldogs nearly ran for 4,000 yards, had two 1,000-yard-plus rushers and averaged 332 yards a game and scored 53 touchdowns on the ground.
And who could forget what West Covina did in the Southeast Division final last December against helpless La Serna, setting a CIF-SS record for most points scored in a title game, winning 84-21.
Even though West Covina graduated seven starters on defense and eight on offense, the impression amongst area coaches is that the Bulldogs are still head and shoulders above the rest in the Hacienda League and Southeast Division as they chase a third straight crown.
“There’s no question that’s more about reputation and the last impression we left with people,” Bulldogs coach Mike Maggiore said. “People see what we’ve done so the expectations are just there. But the truth is we’re replacing four offensive linemen and other key spots. I don’t think you really know what you’ve got until you start playing.”
Don’t feel sorry for West Covina.
Not only will it be able to run the ball with bruiser Aaron Salgado returning and a stable of other up-and-coming backs, but it should be more of passing threat than ever before.
During the Bulldogs’ back-to-back title runs, they never did well in summer passing tournaments, but this summer they won the Arroyo passing tournament and have a gem in senior Jonathan Najera, who beat out super sophomore Antonio “Noodles” Hull, arguably the best athlete on the team. Hull will start at halfback, but he’s also a great No. 2 option at quarterback.
“John is our starter right now and we’ll go week-to-week,” Maggiore said. “He’s smart, accurate and was a starter last summer and spring before he got hurt. We knew he was capable and he showed it again this summer.”
But how much will the Bulldogs air it out? That remains to be seen.
“We want to be as good offensively as we can,” Maggiore said. “There are some years when you have the players that you can run 80 percent of the time. I don’t know how we’ll mix it up this year. Our goal is to score points. We’ve always been a run-first team, but it’s nice to be able to throw the football.”
West Covina will open against Covina on Aug. 24 at Covina District Field in a game that will be televised live on Fox Sports West.
The Bulldogs will host Claremont in a scrimmage on Friday at 6p.m.