THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
MUIR (1-6, 1-3) vs. HOOVER (1-6, 0-4) at GLENDALE HIGH, 7 P.M.
So much for Muir High School competing for a Pacific League championship this year. Mustangs football coach Ken Howard was optimistic before the start of the season despite losing 24 players to graduation, but after an 1-6 start? Not so much.
Muir has won the league title four of the last six years, but at this point the only certainty is it won’t happen this year. It used to be Muir’s biggest challenge was not overlooking inferior opponents because of their records. It also used to be Muir could be counted on to beat Hoover (1-6, 0-4), but the way things have gone this season nothing’s a certainty.
“Oh yeah, no doubt about it,” Howard said as the Mustangs prepared to play Hoover tonight at 7 at Glendale. “I’m not going to take (Hoover) lightly because of their record because I can’t complain about anybody or how they’re doing. Look at us. We need to win. Period.”
Muir quarterback Jarron Williams said the team needed heart after the Mustangs’ 21-14 loss to Crescenta Valley last week. Muir trailed 21-0 at the half before mounting a comeback in the second half that fell short.
“Every year you get the same thing,” Howard said. “We don’t fight until we’re up against the wall. I don’t know why we do that, but we have to at some point start in the front court.”
Pasadena (4-3, 3-1), meanwhile, is coming off an impressive 48-0 win over Glendale. The Bulldogs revamped the offense and installed the double-wing. Glendale was not ready to defend it and Pasadena took advantage. Howard said the Mustangs’ offense will not be revamped, but there will be tweaks to the lineup.
“We have to try everything right now,” Howard said. “Don’t be surprised if you see guys playing different positions, whether it’s Williams lining up at running back or something else. We’re trying to find where we’re going to click together.”
Regardless, chances for a playoff spot are slim and Muir cannot afford another loss. “Last week was a win that would have made us comfortable, but we have to win (today),” Howard said.
“It’s going to throw a wrench in the game,” he said. “But I’ve seen stranger things happen. We’re not going to give up.”
Howard, in his 13th year at the school and seventh as head coach, took issue with growing whispers from those questioning play-calling and impatience.
“You look at the people that are naysayers and you figure they must have won every game in their life,” Howard said candidly. “They must have never lost. But if you’re not in someone’s shoes don’t condemn the guy before you know what’s going on.
“If you knew how many guys graduated last year and how many young guys are playing … you don’t win every year. Lets be serious about this; is this program down? No. Right now we’re not better than the teams in the past. If we don’t make the playoffs, then of course it’s a down year, but we’re still fighting for a spot.”