Is West Covina really that good or is it reputation? Maggiore says senior Najera will start at QB

“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.

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  • GP-

    West Covina is that good! If they can perfect some sort of passing game, they can upset Loyola. Loyola is very Discipline, that’s exactly how you beat a wing t team. If they can spread them out, they can win. Think this years skill players are more versatile than last years group. I hope West Co opens it up a little to compliment the RB/WR combo players they have. They Also have noodles, who can run the Wildcat, without losing too much passing ability. When they figure things out, they are going to hard to stop. I think it’s a good move to use noodles as a utility player. At his size he won’t be playing QB on the next level. However he will be playing DB/WR/RB/Wildcat-QB on the next level. it’s great to have him playing all the positions, and having him on the field means you have a QB/RB/WR on the field. Which means you can audible into any play or formation. West Co should be in the semis for sure if not a 3peat.

  • Bulldogs have bite

    Fred,

    “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.”

    West Covina did not post stats on MaxPreps for it’s last two games in 2011. They did finish with over 4,000 yards rushing and had THREE backs rush for over 1,000 yards, with Aaron Salgado finishing with 1,016 yards rushing last season.

    Something that should not be overlooked is that Jon Najera is a real good QB. He was the starter last year opening the season against Covina, a concussion in the first half took him out of the lineup. When he was cleared to play again, backup QB Chris Caballero was playing well enough to keep the starting job. Noodles will get his shot behind center at some point, but with him as a threat to carry the ball or take in receptions from the halfback spot is just too insane!

    Scrims this week and gametime next week! It’s finally that time again folks!

  • Bulldogs have bite

    @ GP,

    “At his size he won’t be playing QB on the next level.”

    That’s what they said about Michael Vick, Russel Wilson and Drew Brees. Noodles is only a sophomore and is already 5’11″ 175 lbs, he won’t even turn 15 until mid October. If he reaches 6′ to 6’1″ by his senior year, he would fit right in with all the other “dual-threat” QB’s playing at the next level running the spread or pistol offenses.

  • Keepin It Real

    Way too much hype on this kid “Noodles”. Saw him in passing league and the kid is only 5’10 standing in his mamas high-heels. He probably weighs 160. He wasn’t a very accurate passer at all at quarterback. If he’s going to make it to the next level, it will have to be at corner or running back. I think running back will be his best bet, since he plays a very “soft” corner. He gives up way to much cushion with any decent receiver in front of him. We’ll have to see how much bigger he gets, but If I had to give a prediction right now I’d say he’s a legit DII guy and probably not a big time DI prospect. Not meaning to bash the kid, just telling it like it is. Who knows, with 2 years of hard work the guy could be a good recruit. Good luck to him this year!

  • JHA

    If west covina is that good why aren’t they playing a schedule like servite, La Habra or La Mirada??La Mirada is a freight train coming to a high school near you..Mike Moschetti and staff are doing a hell of a job with with those boys..I’m just tired of hearing about teams winning by 35 to 40 and yet if they were in the Pac-5 they would get manhandled..Game of the year St.Paul at La Mirada live action!!!Hands down, Man down!!!

  • Dan

    Keeping it real,
    At 14 years old Noodles physically looks to be a beast in the weight room, if you seen him without a shirt you’d be impressed considering his youth, he has good sized legs too, easy 170/175, definatly not 160 though. As for height, at the least he is 5’10 but he could be 5’11, I’ll try to remember my tape measure for the next practice lol.
    JHA,
    La Mirada has a nice schedule, but I’ve heard La Habra is down this year, they may be on the level of South Hills who West Covina plays in preseason. The other three preseason teams you play are St. Francis, Amat, and St. Paul, all good teams.
    West Covina on the other hand plays Loyola, Chino Hills and Covina. Not sure how Covina will be this year because they lost a bunch of seniors from a very strong team last year, that Covina team from last year was a better team than your Matadors last season. WC’s other two preseason opponents, Loyola and Chino Hills, are capable of beating anybody on La Mirada’s schedule this year. Chino Hills in particular is suppose to be really srtong this year and Loyola is Loyola. So if anything La Mirada may have a slightly tougher preseason schedule than West Co, no big deal.

  • Bulldogs have bite

    JHA,

    2012 SOS

    WC 18.1

    LM 13.4

    sit down! lol

  • K

    @Dan

    You’re the one throwing out numbers on the kid. Funny how all of a sudden he could possibly be a few pounds lighter or an inch shorter. I feel bad speaking negative about any 15 year old in high school. Just let them be kids and enjoy their time on the field. The sad thing is that people on these blogs put way too much pressure on these players and they’ll not be able to live up to some of these expectations. There’s much better sophomore prospects in the Pac-5. Noodles would still be a JV guy if he was in a powerhouse school…if he did play varsity it would be limited playing time. As it is, he’s a good player on a team ranked #60 in the state. It’s not like he’s a superstar on a top 25 team.

  • Dan

    Keeping it real,
    Read this thread again, SLOWLY.
    I put his numbers out there only after you felt the need to discredit his size and ability with your post. Bulldogs have bite mentioned his size and weight only after another poster mentioned he would be too small for a college QB. Neither of us just came on here and threw his numbers on here out of the blue, they were both responces to other post. If you truely feel bad about speaking negative about a kid then don’t speak negatively about him. Was your post really necessary?

  • Keepin It Real

    Dan,

    If anything I was discrediting the ones who come on these blogs and act as if they actually know something about talent and football. The kid in no way has the size or ability to be a big time college quarterback. He could potentially be a good running back though. I did in fact state that. I only posted because I almost fell out of my chair when someone tried to compare Noodles with Michael Vick. What’s the difference? Vick can throw a ball 70 yards on a dime and runs a 4.3 forty.

  • Keepin It Real

    Dan,

    It was actually “Bulldogs have bite” that posted some inflated numbers. My mistake.

  • Bulldogs have bite

    Keeping it real,

    I posted height and weight numbers listed on the roster from maxpreps. I’m not over inflating anything here. The only over inflated thing here is your opinion of your own talent evaluation skills. You projected noodles whole football career based on seeing him play at one passing league game? Man you are good! Excuse me while the rest of us collectively laugh at you! I did not compare him to Vick, only pointing out that size is not the only factor in getting to the next level. If I recall, Vick was once a 14 year old at one time too! Please tell us what fine institution you scout for? If not, you’re just like the rest of us. Some dude on the internet pretending to know something about talent and football.

  • Keepin It Real

    Bulldogs Have Bite

    I’m not coming on here to blow my own horn here and I’m merely stating my own opinion. I played D1 in High School (before it was called the Pac-5), got a scholarship and was a quarterbacks coach at my college alma mater. I think I do have a little better credentials than 90% of the people on these blogs. All I’m saying is that Noodles is more hype than anything right now. He is not on any scouting radars across the country at all. My god, the guy hasn’t even played a down on varsity. For now, he is a good player on a West Covina team that competes in Division 7. They are not a D1 powerhouse or anything. Most teams in the Pac-5 that have 4-6 seasons would beat West Covina without any trouble. The talent pool is just that much better.

  • Bulldogs have bite

    Keeping it real,

    “I played D1 in High School (before it was called the Pac-5), got a scholarship and was a quarterbacks coach at my college alma mater. I think I do have a little better credentials than 90% of the people on these blogs.”

    Let me borrow your moniker and keep it real for you. All that you said quoted above basically amounts to you actually still having no more or less credentials than anybody. I played this, and I was that means squat, because you are not in the profession of evaluating talent. None of us are.

    You spout off that we are just a Division 7 team, yet previously you say we are only ranked 60th in the state. You do realize there are plenty of Pac5 and other teams in Divisions above us that are ranked below us right? In 2010, we finished ranked 29th in the state, and 52nd in 2011. Division rankings mean little to nothing when actually evaluating individual talent anyways. You want to sound objective, but you sound like a hater. Oh and by the way, at tonight’s scrimmage against Claremont, Noodles was easily the best player on the field.

  • Dan

    Keeping it real,
    Your not even close to keeping it real, your jealousy oozes from your every post, lets take a look at your latest idiotic comment:
    “Most teams in the Pac-5 that have 4-6 seasons would beat West Covina without any trouble. The talent pool is just that much better.”
    Let see here, Pac 5 teams that went 4 & 6 or worst were:
    Long Beach Jordan, Compton, Long Beach Milikan,
    Fountain Valley, Marina, Dana Hills, Mater Dei, and J. Serra. Who out of that whole group would have beaten West Covina at the end of last year
    besides Mater Dei?
    For all your self credentials you listed you sure don’t know much about the local highschool football scene, even worse, your judging a sophomore’s potential by a passing league game? Give me a break, you know nothing of this kids ability.

  • Keepin It Real

    Dan,

    WTF? LOL – My jealousy oozes over? All I said was Noodles is better off trying to be a running back at the next level. He’s just not that good of a quarterback. There’s at least 10 JV quarterbacks in Orange County better than Noodles. And your teams that you listed obviously prove my point as far as talent levels. Compton, Milikan, and Jordan are not very good programs…but would compete with West Covina. Mater Dei went 5-5 last year and didn’t even make the playoffs. They would have destroyed West Covina. JSerra went 0-5 last year in Trinity league but yet I believe they finished 5-5. All their wins coming from non D1 teams. Dana Hills is no longer in the South Coast League (The premier league in Southern California right now). You put West Covina in the South Coast league with San Clemente, Mission Viejo, Tesoro, El Toro and Trabuco Hills and they would not win a single game in league. Or perhaps you would like them in the Trinity with Servite, Santa Margarita, Orange Lutheran, JSerra, St. John Bosco, or Mater Dei…again they would be lucky to win a game. So yes, Dana Hills, JSerra, and Fountain Valley can handle West Covina without much trouble. West Covina would be a good game to schedule “home coming” if they were on those schedules.

  • Dan

    “Compton, Milikan, and Jordan are not very good programs…but would compete with West Covina.”

    Last year, once they were healthy West Covina crushes those programs.

    ” Mater Dei went 5-5 last year and didn’t even make the playoffs. They would have destroyed West Covina.”

    Mater Dei was probably the most underated team in the Pac 5, they beat Santa Margarita, it’s entirely possible they easily handle West Covina, but at seasons end it’s also entirely possibel WC give them a run for their money. I get the feeling your gauging WC by their loss to Loyola.
    What your forgetting is that they were missing their starting qb, wr, and both tailbacks for that game, no Solomon, no Fraizer.

    “You put West Covina in the South Coast league with San Clemente, Mission Viejo, Tesoro, El Toro and Trabuco Hills and they would not win a single game in league.
    El Toro and Trabuco Hills would have been nice games with WC, WC would have had a good shot to beat both those teams, thats two possible wins.
    Dana Hills is not the Dana Hills of 2009, WC beats them in 10 and 11. J. Serra was beat by Damien last year, they were not that good, again WC beats them.
    You see the envy leaks from your every post, your not tryng in the least to be realistic.
    Never said WC is at the Pac 5 level, I only rebutted your silly post that any 4 & 6 Pac 5 team would have an easy time with West Co, your not keeping it real in the least bud.

  • Keepin It Real

    Dan,

    You obviously aren’t up to date with many schools outside the mediocre SGV. Mater Dei really wasn’t that good last year. Good teams can shut the door in the 4th quarter. Mater Dei couldn’t. They were a 3 quarter team. They were also very young. They did beat Santa Margarita and played their best game all year. This year is a different story, as I think they will be in the semi-finals at the very least. There’s no way West Covina would stand in against El Toro though. Did you see what El Toro did to La Habra last year on their own turf? It was 49-13 in the fourth quarter. If not for an extremely lucky seguence of onside kicks at the end, La Habra had no shot. Again, this is La Habra who everyone felt would run the table again. They can beat up on anyone around the 562 or 626 area code, but once they face a powerhouse from Orange County they can barely compete. You really think West Covina can contain Conner Manning who is already a Utah commit and holds the single-season record for passing in Orange County? West Covina vs. El Toro this year would be a laugher considering El Toro has the leading receiver and rusher in the county coming back with Manning. They are ranked #20 in the entire Southern Section for the pre-season while Serra is ranked #25. Why is West Covina not even on the pre-season list?

  • Dan

    When you beat the Pac 5 champ/state finalist,
    and go overtime with the other Pac 5 finalist, and play within a td of Corona Centenial, your a pretty good team capable of beating any team in front of you. That was Mater Dei. Their inability to shut the door could be attributed to their youth, but the games they lost, I’ll bet they could have just as easily come back the next week and beat those teams.
    I was aware of what El Toro and Conner Manning did last year and thought they were a good team. They played Huntington Beach, we played Loyola. Other than that both schools had similarly light schedules with them having a little tougher playoff schedule while WC had a little tougher season schedule, look at all the negative signs on their cal preps opponents.
    My beef is that you blatantly write off any chance West Covina may have against good teams just because they are in division 7, did you honestly see West Co play by seasons end when they were healthy and the O line which was brand new at the beginning of the season, now had several games under their belt and were firing on all cylinders. Mike Maggiore and Brian Murphy
    have an uncanny ability to turn inexperienced linemen into precise blocking machines by seasons end. The way West Co completely destroyed their division last year shows that they were not a division 7 team.
    They may have been listed as a D7 team on paper but they were far above the division on the field and people such as you refuse to give them credit for that. By seasons end last year I equate West Co with teams like La Habra, Trabuco Hills, Charter Oak, Tustin and El Toro. I say that without reservation, but I also know that is just my opinion.
    Matchup’s play a big factor in games so you have to take each game individualy, El Toro, as impressive as their season looked for most of the year, lost in the final to a Tustin team that in turn was mopped by Orange Lutheran 45 to 6 earlier in the season. If I remember correctly Tustin is still a double wing team. Without seeing the game I’m going to assume that El Toro must have had trouble getting their high scoring offense on the field due to the physical, ball control, run style of Tustins double wing offense. West Covina runs the misdirectional Wing T every bit as physical and precise as Tustin runs the double wing. I have a hard time believing El Toro would have stopped West Co’s run game at seasons end, not with the way they were blocking and not with the multiple rnu threats of Solomon, Fraizer, and Salgado. On defense Lonzell Barnett, Muleck Henderson and Gus Vilches, were all very fast and talented DB’s and were at the top of their game. You did not see the blown coverages that happened earlier in the season that allowed some teams to get back into games with WC. Underneath they had the help of Solomon, Fraizer, Turner and Ojala to cover the underneath zones. Those are all very good athletes with good instincts, I like their chances to stop El Toro a little better than El Toro’s “D” stopping West Covina’s run game. It would have been a game that would have come down to whoever had the ball last probably wins.

  • Keepin It Real

    Dan,

    It looks like we’ve finally found some middle ground on our argument. West Covina is not a bad team, and you’re right they are probably better than their paper ranking (D7). I’m willing to say they can be a legit D4. Alot of people in the SGV just don’t understand the difference of players in D1 compared to D7. I actually believe there are more “skill” players in the SGV in terms of receivers. However, in D1 you get some monster linemen and phenomenal quarterbacks. You typically won’t find a high school lineman in D1 smaller than 250.

  • Dan

    Keeping it real,

    “West Covina is not a bad team, and you’re right they are probably better than their paper ranking (D7). I’m willing to say they can be a legit D4.”

    Thanks, appreciate that comment, a D4/D5 rating by you is fine by me, don’t need to see a WC #1 ranking or WC put on a pedestal. I’m always under the assumption that WC would certainly be an underdog against a decent Pac 5 team. I’ve seen enough of the Pac 5 to know the difference. I’m hopeing WC is getting closer to tightening that gap though and I think they are headed in the right direction as there is a lot of talent coming up in our lower levels, and this coaching staff is getting better year after year.

  • Keepin It Real

    Dan

    As long as West Covina continues to be successful on the field, they will continue to grow. With the new 30-day transfer rule, West Covina is a very attractive option in the area. You can tell they have a good program and a good coaching staff. The new stadium looks great too. I think some good opponents for them in the future would be some teams from the Empire or Century league. Matchups with West Covina against teams like Villa Park, Esperanza, Yorba Linda, and Cypress would be interesting.