Will he start or will he sit?
That’s the almost all-consuming question around Pasadena High football practice as speculation swirls around the recovery of senior Brandon Cox, the Bulldogs’ standout quarterback who has verbally committed to the University of Arizona.
Cox injured his left foot on Sept. 8, with a recovery timetable set at three to six weeks.
On Friday, Pasadena (1-4 overall, 1-1 in league) will hit the three-week barrier when its hosts league co-leader Burbank (3-2, 2-0) at 7 p.m. in the battle of the Bulldogs.
Pasadena Coach Randy Horton has stated that he will decide if he feels Cox is healthy enough to play Friday, listing the quarterback as a game-time decision.
“His progress looks good, but I’ll still wait and see,” Horton said. “The most important thing is that he’s healthy and can contribute. He’s not going to be put on the field if something is wrong.”
Last week it wasn’t Cox’s absence that hurt Pasadena as much as the team’s costly mistakes in a 17-14 road defeat versus Crescenta Valley.
Pasadena had a critical fumble with five minutes remaining that the Falcons converted into a field goal and ultimately proved the game-winner as Pasadena fell behind, 17-8.
If there was a positive from last week, it may have been the breakout effort of running back Kylong Flemming, who rushed eight times for 114 yards and a touchdown.
“It’s like a said before, obviously there are things we can do better with Brandon,” Horton said. “But there are still other things that we can improve on without him and turnovers is definitely one.”
Pasadena hosts a Burbank squad that has posted league victories over Hoover (48-7) and Arcadia (41-20) and boasts a solid one-two punch in running backs James Williams and Teddy Arlington.
Williams leads the squad with 637 yards and nine touchdowns, while Arlington has racked up 523 yards and five touchdowns.
In three victories, Burbank has averaged 401 rushing yards per game.
Monrovia (3-2) at South Pasadena (4-1), Friday at 7 p.m.
Enter the beast. The Wildcats may not have the better record heading into Friday’s Rio Hondo League opener, but that’s mainly due to a stellar nonleague schedule that includes the likes of Ayala (4-1), San Dimas (5-1) and South Hills (4-1).
That’s also not mentioning St. Francis, perennially the area’s top team, which Monrovia topped, 17-13, last Friday.
While the Wildcats don’t have that monster standout as in past years (e.g. Ellis McCarthy), they still possess an able quarterback in senior Blake Heyworth, who averages 191 passing yards per game with eight touchdowns versus six interceptions.
Monrovia has also proven opportunistic on defense this season with seven interceptions and three fumble recoveries, including a big one versus St. Francis that sealed the win late.
Tigers Coach Marty Konrad is confident his team can stay competitive with Monrovia, which defeated South Pasadena, 34-22, last season.
The Tigers roll into the league showdown winners of three straight and have a strong two-headed running combination of Nathan Lee and Rudy Murillo, who combined to rush 245 yards and three touchdowns in the Tigers’ 37-25 victory at Beverly Hills last week.
“We gave them a good shot last year,” Konrad said of Monrovia last Friday. “They kind of have the same team and we’ve kind of got the same guys. So we feel good about our chances.”
Monrovia has won 22 straight league games and five consecutive league titles dating back to 2007.
Muir (2-3, 2-0) at Glendale (1-4, 0-2), Friday at 7 p.m.
Apparently, it's either feast or famine for the Mustangs, who were soundly drubbed in a brutal three-game nonleague schedule only to open Pacific League play with consecutive thumpings of Crescenta Valley (36-0) and Hoover (63-0).
Expect the gluttony to continue for Muir, which travels to Glendale, which has been roughed up in two league games by Pasadena (35-0) and Burroughs (24-7).
There's no mystery with Glendale, which relies heavily on BYU-bound wide receiver Michael Davis, a CIF State Division I track and field finalist in the 200-meter dash.
Davis has scored four of his team's six touchdowns this season, two coming as receiver (eight catches for 196), one on special teams and the other coming on an electric 91-yard touchdown run versus La Salle.
Muir was again dominant on defense in holding Hoover's offensive focal point, running back Jesse Pina, to 65 yards rushing last week.
While wide receiver Mason Taoen has been Muir's top receiver this season, Mark Samuels made a push for the No. 2 spot with two touchdowns last week.
Quarterback Joshua Muema-Washington is also coming off his finest performance this season, throwing for 220 yards and five touchdowns, while rushing for another score.
San Marino (5-0) at La Cañada (1-4), Friday at 7 p.m.
For the first time in three weeks, the Titans didn't demolish a nonleague opponent last week, instead, scoring 17 unanswered points in rallying for a 31-21 victory at South El Monte that capped the nonleague season.
The score and type of contest came in stark contrast to 63-0 and 45-0 victories over Nogales and Beverly Hills, respectively, the previous two weeks.
Not to worry, the Titans should produce a similar score in the Rio Hondo League opener against a dysfunctional Spartans squad that has mustered 14 points over the last two weeks.
In fact, it could be argued that those numbers are skewed given that the Spartans’ junior varsity team scored one of the team's two touchdowns over the last weeks.
Even so, La Cañada does have a potential worry in running back Andy Paynter, who broke a 59-yard touchdown run versus Arroyo last week.
Quarterback play has been an issue for La Cañada, but not so for San Marino, which may just have the area's most underrated signal-caller in Matt Wofford.
The senior was again consistently effective versus South El Monte last week, rushing 15 times for 109 yards and a score, while completing 11 of 15 passes for 145 yards with one touchdown.
While Wofford threw an interception, he also picked one off in the secondary as well.
Verbum Dei (1-4, 0-2) at La Salle (5-0, 0-0), Friday at 7 p.m.
Prior to the season, Lancers first-year Coach Russell Gordon set his team's goal at finishing 5-5 and being competitive within in the Del Rey League.
The goal seems absurd now.
Of course, when Gordon set that goal in early January, he had only been on campus for a week and the team he was inheriting was 1-9.
Much has changed for La Salle since the winter, as the team has posted its been start this century and has outscored its opponents, 232-59, with an offense that has scored 30 or more points in four straight games and a defense that has allowed a touchdown or less in three of five contests.
In Verbum Dei, the Lancers renew a rivalry that goes back to 2004 in the Camino Real League when both teams regularly battled for the top spot in league, highlighted by 2006 when La Salle defeated Verbum Dei, 37-36, for the Camino Real League championship, but fell to the Eagles, 32-10, in the Mid-Valley Division title game.
While Verbum Dei has won four straight games versus La Salle, including last year's 14-13 thriller, and owns the series, 6-3, the stats are overwhelmingly on La Salle's side this season.
One stat that jumps out of the page is turnovers, as the Lancers have committed two, while forcing nine. Verbum Dei, on the other hand, has committed 11 turnovers versus creating six.
Marshall Fundamental (3-3, 0-2) at Brentwood (4-1, 2-1), Saturday at 3 p.m.
The Marshall Eagles have enjoyed an already banner 2012 campaign in which they've won more games than in any other season since 2004. Marshall also finished 3-1 in nonleague play, including last week's 38-20 win over visiting Angelou.
Unfortunately for Marshall, the fun part of its season has also concluded as the Eagles’ last four games are easily their hardest as they return to Alpha League action with a weekend tilt at Brentwood.
The Brentwood Eagles have only dropped one contest this season, and that was last week's 23-19 upset loss to visiting Viewpoint.
Senior quarterback Connor Boggs is Brentwood's offensive catalyst, as the dual threat averages throwing for 178.8 yards per game, while also rushing for 46.5 yards per contest.
Boggs has thrown seven touchdowns and rushed for another, while tossing three interceptions.
Brentwood has a talented defensive end to worry about in senior Ian Schiffer, who has registered four sacks and 14 tackles this season.
When Marshall has been victorious this season it's been because of the run game.
Last week, Marshall ripped off 243 yards on the ground, including 122 yards that came on 12 carries from Mark Merino.
Marshall has rotated quarterbacks De'Angelo Swinney and Christian Clark this season regularly and that shouldn't change Saturday.
Heritage Christian (4-2) at Maranatha (0-5), Friday at 7 p.m.
Despite what has been a brutal season that has already claimed standout quarterback Andrew Elffers, the Minutemen can start anew with the beginning of Olympic League play Friday.
Maranatha was quite formidable in its first game without Elffers two weeks ago before falling to host South El Monte, 24-14, under the leadership of sophomore quarterback Eli Snyder, who may very well be next year’s starter.
Snyder completed four of nine passes for 80 yards, including a 67-yard touchdown strike to Niko Dobbs.
What may tilt success in Maranatha’s favor, though, may not be the passing as much as the running game.
Senior running back Omar Younger carried 16 times for 95 yards, which was Younger’s top effort since rushing for 105 yards in Maranatha’s season opener.
Heritage Christian enters with four nonleague victories gained against opponents who have combined for a 7-13 record.
Yet, the record aside, the Warriors have a capable and effective quarterback in junior Tyler Noe, whose thrown for 938 yards and 12 touchdowns versus one interception.
Noe’s main target is receiver Andy Hoeks, whose hauled in 24 receptions for 437 yards and three touchdowns.
Expect Heritage Christian to be looking for revenge as the Minutemen have walloped Heritage Christian, formerly known as Los Angeles Baptist, the last two years by scores of 45-7 and 58-14.
Blair (0-5) at Temple City (2-3), Friday at 7 p.m.
There’s no easy to way to say the Vikings were humbled last weekend at Eagle Rock to the tune of an 85-0 loss in their nonleague finale.
The defeat was the worst for the Vikings this century (previous worst was a 70-0 loss against Vista in 2001) and gives little hope Blair will win a game this season.
If there’s some condolence, it’s that Blair travels to beatable Temple City to kick off Rio Hondo League play.
The bad news for the Vikings is that the Rams have some momentum, as they’ve rallied from a 0-3 start in which they were outscored, 71-0, and have won two straight.
Temple City won at-then surging Hoover, 15-14, on Sept. 13 and that victory was followed by a bye and an upset win over visiting Rosemead, 20-10, last week.
Blair is hoping to snap the area’s longest losing streak of 14 games.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun