Los Angeles Preps: Garrett Pendleton

Bonita breaks in new QB Tanner Diebold

September, 6, 2011
Tanner Diebold admitted he felt jittery, if not completely nervous, when he saw fans streaming into Citrus Stadium for the annual Smudge Pot game between rivals Bonita and San Dimas on Thursday night. The sophomore quarterback attended the showdown in 2010 but going as a fan didn't quite prepare him for what he felt on the field during pregame.

[+] EnlargeTanner Diebold
Blair Angulo/For ESPNLA.comTanner Diebold's first varsity start was in the Smudge Pot game, leading Bonita over San Dimas.
"Before it all started I was real nervous," Diebold said following Bonita's dominant 40-20 win. "After the first series everything settled down. It was like playing in any other game."

Diebold, making his first varsity appearance, was shaky throwing the ball, completing only five of 13 pass attempts for 71 yards. He missed some throws early, though his receivers dropped at least four balls. Diebold made an adjustment and his first throw of the second half was a 19-yard laser up the middle that led Garrett Horine into the end zone. Bonita's student section, one of the liveliest in the area, chanted his name on various occasions.

Bonita coach Eric Podley said Diebold "looked like a rookie" but, overall, was pleased with how the sophomore directed his shotgun offense.

"I think he has unlimited capabilities," Podley said. "But he's got to show some progress."

Some of that development hinges on how he adjusts to the faster pace of the varsity game. Diebold guided Bonita's freshmen team to a 10-0 record last year, but he said he could stand in the pocket for a good while and scan every option. Now Diebold has to make his read and fire quickly.

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Southeast Division: West Covina 37, Bonita 33

December, 11, 2010

WALNUT -- George Johnson had himself quite the birthday.

The senior quarterback led West Covina on a dramatic 80-yard drive with less than two minutes remaining -- capping it with a lunge into the end zone from a foot away -- to secure the CIF Southeast Division championship with a 37-33 comeback victory over Bonita on Friday night.

Talk about blowing out the candles and having a piece of the cake too.

"The best present ever," Johnson said before breaking a smile.

Before Johnson's heroics, Bonita had taken a 33-30 lead on a Brandt Davis 38-yard field goal with 1:46 left. That's when Johnson knew top-seeded West Covina -- which is notorious for its deep stable of tailbacks, not Johnson's throwing abilities -- would need his arm for the first time all year.

"We usually run the ball, but we had to throw it this time," Johnson said. "On that last drive we showed we could do both."

Johnson, who had thrown the ball only five times prior to last possession, worked the sidelines for a pair of first downs to begin the drive West Covina fans won't soon forget. Bonita cornerback Zach Brungard telegraphed the next play perfectly, but dropped an interception that would have sealed the deal. With the Bearcats' defense thinking pass, the Bulldogs (13-1) rushed for 37 yards on the next two plays.

Johnson called his own number with 32 seconds remaining, sneaking into the end zone to send the West Covina sideline into a frenzy.

"George has done that for three years," coach Mike Maggiore said. "There's no question we want the ball in his hands. We're not a throwing team, but we know that George can move the ball by his legs, by his arms, by his determination."

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LA South: West Covina 55, Bonita 21

October, 30, 2010

WEST COVINA -- Consider any questions surrounding West Covina's validity completely answered. The Southeast Division's top-ranked team is legit. The Bulldogs left no doubt Friday night.

No. 1 West Covina and No. 2 Bonita were supposed to play a tight one. Each side would score its share of points, but everyone assumed the battle between Hacienda League powers would be decided in the final seconds. It had all the makings.

To the surprise of West Covina coach Mike Maggiore and probably all of those in attendance, the exact opposite happened.

"I didn't think we'd score 55 points, to be honest with you," he said following West Covina's 55-21 win. "I thought we could move the ball on them, thought it would be a tight game, thought it would come down to the fourth quarter. But we made some big plays early and took their momentum away in the first half. I'm proud of our guys."

One guy -- junior tailback Chris Solomon -- stood out above the rest. He scored three rushing touchdowns, ran for 187 yards on 11 carries and added a 97-yard score on a kickoff return in the final minute. And like his coach, Solomon was genuinely shocked by the way the Bulldogs won.

"It ended up being a blowout because we worked hard every day of the week," Solomon said.

West Covina (7-1), which has won seven straight, used the consistency of its patented run game to crush previously-undefeated Bonita (7-1). Though he's referred to by teammates as "Solo," Solomon wasn't the only one chewing up yards. Far from it.

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