Last year there were so many weapons. There were guys like Chris Solomon, Jimmy Frazier, Justin Meadors, Chris Caballero, Gus Vilchis, Lonzell Barnett and Dorrin Turner. All those guys are gone and then there were injuries.
Defensive end Justin Hornsby, a transfer who was expected to make a huge impact this year, went out early with an ACL and starting quarterback Jon Najera also went down.
Friday night all those guys were standing on the sidelines in street clothes and West Covina varsity jackets.
Back in August a lot of people thought the Bulldogs would just coast to another Southeast title. But when you look at the heavy losses to graduation and injury, they were fortunate to get to the semi finals. They have some home run hitters-Noodles Hull, Sidney Jones-but not enough.
This year West Covina was staring across the line at the team that did have the weapons. Last year’s West Covina team is this year’s La Serna. This year it was La Serna who had the guys that made the plays. It was La Serna who had the experience, and in then end it was La Serna that marched in to the Southeast title game.
It wasn’t 84-21 but it was convincing. After the Bulldogs took a 14-0 lead, La Serna outscored them 35-3 including 21-0 in the second half. Take away an 83 yard punt return by Jones in the first quarter and the final is 35-10. La Serna’s defense only allowed one offensive touchdown.
West Covina has a solid rushing attack but La Serna allowed only 186 yards rushing and just 57 in the second half. Hull, who rushed for 81 yards overall was held to minus three in the second half. When West Covina needed someone to make a play nobody was there. There wasn’t a Solomon, a Frazier, a Meadors.
La Serna had plenty of guys to turn to. You see, a lot of these guys were on the field last year when West Covina put up 84 in the title game. The Lancers turned to Frankie Palmer who threw for 89 yards and ran for 51. They turned to Luke Gonzales who rushed for 91 yards and two touchdowns. In the red zone they turned to Gio Long who ran for three touchdowns. They turned to Aaron Gomez who recovered a West Covina fumble in the first half. And they turned to the entire defensive unit which shut West Covina out in the second half forcing them into two punts and a fumble and stopped them twice on fourth downs.
When they went down 14-0 in the first quarter there was no panic but instead a perseverance that led to the comeback. La Serna Coach Margarito Beltran was already shaking his head before I finished asking the question about the early deficit.
“If you’ve been around this team at all during the past two or three years you know our guys never quit,” Beltran said.
Some have been picking against La Serna all year. You might want to jump on the Beltran Bandwagon when the Lancers play Downey for the Southeast Division championship Saturday night.
The battle between Monrovia and Paraclete is just as vicious on our comment boards as it will be on the field Friday night when they play for the Mid-Valley title. “Paraclete #”1 for the Spirits and “Greenie” for the Wildcats have been in engaging in a war of words all year that has really heated up now that both teams are headed to the Finals. One thing is for sure, you couldn’t ask for a better match up.
Who’s going to win? I’ll let you know what I think later this week but for now flip a coin. Monrovia (11-2) has won nine straight while Paraclete (12-1) has won 12 in a row. They have four common opponents with each team going 4-0 against them. Paraclete beat San Dimas and Sierra Canyon by the combined score of 59-37 while Monrovia beat the same two teams 77-54 combined. Too close to call.
Time to stop talking. Line ’em up.
That’s my principle.
Tim can be reached at email@example.com.