Football: Bonita’s Podley knows all about Muir’s prowess

By Fred J. Robledo, Staff Writer

Bonita High School football coach Eric Podley doesn’t need a history lesson when it comes to the Bearcats’ opponent on Friday, Muir.

After crushing California 51-6 in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Southeast Division playoffs, the Bearcats (10-1) play at Muir (6-4) in the quarterfinals Friday at 7:30 p.m. The Mustangs knocked off La Mirada 33-14 for their sixth consecutive victory.

Podley was the offensive coordinator on the Mustangs’ 1989 Division II co-championship team that tied Santa Barbara 7-7 under head coach John Tyree, a championship that came shortly after Muir’s storied back-to-back championships in 1985 and ’86 under legendary coach Jim Brownfield.

“This is our toughest game since West Covina (55-21 loss on Oct. 29),” Podley said. “They’re playing with a lot of confidence, they beat their league champion (Burroughs) and haven’t lost in over a month, so they believe in what they’re doing and what their coaches are telling them.”

Muir coach Ken Howard is in his seventh season, which is the longest tenure at the school since Brownfield was there.

In those seven years, the Mustangs have won four Pacific League titles and are making their fourth quarterfinal appearance, although they’ve never been beyond that.

When the Mustangs advanced to the quarterfinals in 2003 and ’04, they were in Division III, where they lost each time to powerhouse Sherman Oaks Notre Dame.

In 2006 the Mustangs moved to Division V but lost in the quarterfinals to eventual champ Colony.

The Mustangs suffered their first losing season under Howard last year, 4-7, but they still gave eventual Southeast Division champ Charter Oak their toughest game of the playoffs before losing in the first round 20-19 after getting stopped on a game-winning two-point conversion attempt in the final seconds.

That’s Muir, a team that always has a ton of talent, which is why they’re so upset-prone.

“There has been sort of a revolving (coaching) door since Brownfield, but he’s (Howard) done a great job,” Podley said.

“Having been there, I have the utmost respect for him. It’s not the easiest place to work and sustain a program.”

The area surrounding Muir always has been known for producing great football talent, but that talent hasn’t always remained there, with players leaving to neighboring schools more than ever.

Even Muir great Saladin McCullough’s son, Saladin McCullough Jr., is at Alemany, along with quarterback Vernon Adams, who both live in the Muir school district.

The east San Gabriel Valley has benefitted from several players who would have gone to Muir, such as Charter Oak legends Will Harris and Patrick Fuller, and there are so many more.

“That’s why I give (Howard) so much credit. He’s done a great job in a tough football environment,” Podley said. “Football means everything to those kids.”

Players don’t leave Muir because of football. They leave because of academics and safety concerns brought on by neighboring gangs.

Podley, however, never remembered anything negative happening during his only season there. He felt that was out of respect for football.

“There might be trouble swirling around the practice or during the game sometimes, but when it came time to play football it’s a community that respects the game,” Podley said.

“The kids in the community know when it comes to football, it’s all business.”

That’s why Podley’s so concerned with Friday’s game.

Muir is as healthy as it’s been all year, and quarterback Jeffrey Davis might be the most dangerous run and pass threat in the division.

Davis suffered a concussion earlier in the season that forced him out of two games – both losses – and is 7-2 as a starter.

“I’m not sure how we prepare for that,” Podley said of Davis.

“I don’t have anyone to simulate what he does, so it’s hard to predict how we’re going to handle him.”

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  • Coach Smalley

    Not many coaches in the country can lay claim to such an impressive record as Coach Howard and his Mustangs play with a tremendous amount of heart and passion. The entire football program has improved significantly with regards to academics, as has the entire school. The Muir family of administrators and staff don’t get the credit they deserve but Muir is actually a safe, small school, rich in tradition and regaining a culture of pride and determination. People love to harp on the negative aspects of the past but fail to see its positive present and promising future. Those families who choose to leave their own community to attend other schools outside the district have their reasons but there is a powerful group of alumni and community supporters that refuse to let the hope and potential of such a dynamic pillar in Northwest Pasadena (John Muir High) fade.
    The John Muir High School football team not only represents Mustang pride but the pride of the entire city of Pasadena and San Gabriel Valley. With limited resources felt by the entire state, the Mustang family continues to shine with a captivating spirit that speaks volumes to what can be accomplished when people who care work together with a common goal. Go Mustangs Go! You are a joy to watch and an inspiration to all!

  • Don

    Anyone going to Perry’s for coffee before the game?

  • !stang!

    Gotta get that ‘Hip Bird’ Don!

  • Bob Anon

    Never heard of Perry’s, but I would love a nice cheeseburger special from Jim’s!

    Go Muir.

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  • The Stang Fan

    Don,

    Has no SGV stone gone unturned with you? Lol. I’m with !stang!, got to go with the Hip Bird, but Aram and Bon Anon are right…Jim’s is more of a “football” choice.

    Hope you enjoy your stay on Friday Don…well every thing but the final score. :)

    Good luck to the Bearcats bro!

  • Don

    Hiya Stang,

    Don’t know the “Bird” but familiar with Jim’s, kind of an east side chain with an outpost over near Imperial and Carmenita I favored growing up. Ummmmm, char broiled burgers.

    I only knew Perry’s cause a pal took me in for a dog and a shake last year before a Rose Bowl event. Guess I’ll just hit the snack bar.

    Good luck and good game to all of the boys from both schools and mostly everyone stay healthy.

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