Through the last two weeks, the Pasadena High football team has found a way to survive.
Over that period, the Bulldogs have played without blue chip quarterback Brandon Cox, who injured his left foot on Sept. 8, which required him to miss a minimum of three weeks.
Since then, the Bulldogs immediately felt the effects of his loss in a 35-6 defeat at Salesian, in which both sophomore linebacker Caleb Devine and senior wide receiver Wardell Barry took snaps at quarterback. Devine likely to start Friday, as Cox’s return is doubtful.
However, last week, Pasadena (1-3 overall, 1-0 in league) rebounded from the depths with a 35-0 win at Glendale in the Pacific League opener highlighted by senior running back Torus Stepney, who rushed 16 times for 121 yards and two touchdowns.
This week, the Bulldogs face a big challenger versus Crescenta Valley (2-2, 0-1) at Moyse Field on Friday at 7 p.m.
“We were losing games not because of our quarterback, but because of the mistakes we had been making,” Pasadena Coach Randy Horton said. “We weren’t running the ball and we were just giving up way too many turnovers. When you make mistakes like that, it doesn’t matter who your quarterback is.”
Conversely, the Bulldogs forced three turnover versus the Nitros last week, including two interceptions, while Pasadena dominated the total yardage at the end of the first half last week, 222-66, before inserting back-up players.
“We believe as a team that we can win as a team with Caleb,” Horton said. “Again, it’s not all on one player. Look at last week, we had a lot of people step up and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Crescenta Valley enters Friday’s affair after a deflating 36-0 loss to Muir last week in which the Falcons totaled only 163 yards and had a bit of a quarterback controversy as starter Ben Rees was pulled in the fourth quarter in favor of Joe Torres.
As for the running game, the Falcons were also stifled on the ground as running back William Wang rushed for a season-low 49 yards on 16 carries.
Hoover (2-2, 0-1 in league) at Muir (1-3, 1-0 in league), Friday at 7 p.m.
Remember last week when the Mustangs were battered and bruised with confidence seemingly at an all-time low? Well a much-needed 36-0 victory over Pacific League aspirant Crescenta Valley has certainly served as a boost.
The Mustangs weren’t just dominant, but explosive, as running back Andreece Brown, who was injured in the team’s opener at Upland, broke off touchdown runs of 96 and 54 yards.
Sophomore receiver Mason Taeon was also back from injury and hooked up for his third touchdown connection of the season from quarterback Joshua Muema-Washington, who completed 15 of 23 passes for 183 yards.
While Muir began its season in a somewhat big hole, the exact opposite was true of the Tornadoes.
Hoover opened with a 46-0 win over Blair and then a stunning 33-28 upset over South Pasadena, but has followed with losses to Temple City (15-14) and a league-opening 48-7 whipping delivered by Burbank last week.
Bellarmine-Jefferson (1-3) at Pasadena Poly (4-0) at South Pasadena High, Friday at 7 p.m.
As just about every other area team is right in the thick of action, the Panthers are in a down period, as Poly picked up a win last weekend via a forfeit in which it didn’t have to play and is officially on a bye next week.
In between, the Panthers will host the high-flying Guards, who have dropped three straight games, but not for a lack of offense.
Bell-Jeff scored nearly 50 points in a 50-44 defeat to Chadwick on Saturday highlighted by a brilliant effort from running back Josh Martinez, who rushed 20 times for 148 yards and four touchdowns and also hauled in seven passes for 137 yards and one score.
The Panthers’ defense was certainly more stout in its 22-19 victory at Malibu on Sept. 22, in what happened to be the last time Poly saw any playing time.
Overall, Poly has allowed 31 points (10.3 points per game) in three games with a shutout. That’s in comparison to the 164 points (41 points per game) the Guards have surrendered through four games.
Lost in the news of the forfeit was that the Panthers improved to 4-0 for the first time this century.
San Marino (4-0) at South El Monte (2-2), Friday at 7 p.m.
The Titans have been clicking on both sides of the ball four games into the season and that’s spelled disaster for their opponents through nonleague play.
San Marino wraps up its nonleague season with a trip to South El Monte on Friday to take on the Eagles. The Titans are riding a four-game win streak with the previous two wins coming via shutouts over Nogales (63-0) and Beverly Hills (45-0) to start the season.
The Normans turned the ball over three times and produced just 75 yards against a defensive unit in San Marino that also forced five turnovers in the second half of its game versus the Nobles.
The Eagles may be in over their heads Friday, as they defeated Nogales, 19-6, in their season opener, while San Marino dominated the Nobles. South El Monte’s other victory came last Friday in a 28-14 win at home over beaten-up Maranatha.
South El Monte has relied on a bruising attack for most of its offense, behind running back Leo Artiaga (214 yards, two touchdowns on 41 carries) and Javier Machuca (161 yards, one touchdown on 24 carries). Of the Eagles’ 927 yards gained on offense, 597 have come on the ground.
Offensively, San Marino has also caught fire behind the solid play of quarterback Matt Wofford and running back Ryan Wood. Wofford has scored five touchdowns in the previous two games in which he’s amassed 153 yards and four touchdowns on the ground.
Wood has racked up 316 rushing yards in the past two weeks and is coming off a game where he ran for 177 in 20 carries. It was still not close to his season-high, which came in the season opener, when he ran for 202 yards and three scores in a 30-14 win over Eagle Rock.
South Pasadena (3-1) at Beverly Hills (1-3), Friday at 7 p.m.
A look at the Tigers’ results and what teams they’ve played indicated they’ve gotten better as the year’s gone along – minus the loss to Hoover in the second game of the season.
South Pasadena carries a 3-1 record into Friday after it posted wins over San Gabriel (49-40), Glendale (39-7) and Alhambra (24-10) last Friday.
The Tigers have had several running backs lead their offense so far this year with Nathan Lee and Rudy Murillo both enjoying big games already this season. South Pasadena quarterback David Madrid has shown he can beat defenses, too. He completed 11 of 18 passes for 193 yards and two scores against the Moors and also threw for 150 yards and the three scores against San Gabriel.
Blair (0-4) at Eagle Rock (2-3), Friday at 7 p.m.
There may not be more emotion in any area game than in Eagle Rock, where Blair first-year Coach Johnny Lopez returns for the first time since 2008.
In that season, Lopez’ only one after taking over for popular but embattled coach Jerry Chou, he was openly harassed and physically assaulted by a player during practice, which led to a brief hospitalization.
While Lopez hasn’t brought up the issue with his players, he can’t help but feel a desire to win.
“Oh yeah, I want [Eagle Rock]. I’d like to win that game, but for us what’s more important is to keep on improving,” Lopez said. “As for the players, I’m telling them to treat this like any other game and to prepare to win like any other game.”
Lopez is making a quarterbacking change for Friday, moving 6-foot-4, 185-pound senior Sherman Simpson from quarterback to running back and moving over sophomore Sebastian McKinson to signal-caller.
Both were filling in for starter Rayjon Moore, who is nursing an ankle injury, but is expected to start next week for the commence of Rio Hondo League play.
Angelou (0-4) vs. Marshall Fundamental (2-3) at Pasadena High, Friday at 7 p.m.
History is on the line for the host Eagles, who can hit a few attainable goals with a victory.
A triumph would give Marshall a .500 record past the fourth week of the season for the first time since 2004, which also marked the last year Marshall won more than two games in a season.
While the Eagles are still gelling after a late start, they have an advantage over the visiting Wolfpack of the Southern League of the CIF Los Angeles City Section. Angelou is participating in its inaugural season and like most debutantes, is having a tough time.
The Wolfpack has lost all four of its contests this season by a combined score of 161-24 and is one of two winless teams in league. The other winless squad is also new to football in South Region #2, which visiting Marshall defeated two weeks ago, 28-7.