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.