By Miguel A. Melendez, Staff Writer
Knocked unconscious and bleeding profusely from his head.
That’s how Muir High School quarterback Joshua Muema-Washington was found after the car he was riding in with three other friends was involved in a near head-on collision during the week leading up to the Mustangs’ Oct. 21 game against Glendale.
What was supposed to be a typical ride to a friend’s house – and within seconds of pulling into the driveway – turned into pain that sidelined Muema-Washington almost four weeks.
“We were driving on Los Robles and heading to my friend Charles’ house,” Muema-Washington recalled. “We were about to turn and make a left into the house when out of nowhere this red truck comes right at us.”
The truck, Muema-Washington said, struck the passenger side where he sat.
“I saw the truck,” Muema-Washington said. “But at the same time I didn’t have enough time to embrace the impact. It was coming so fast.”
The 6-foot-3 junior was last to be dragged out of the mangled car in which he was a passenger in the back seat. Muema-Washington admitted he wasn’t wearing a seat belt, which made matters worse.
He suffered cuts that required 13 stitches above his right eyebrow and nine above his left during a five-hour stay at Huntington Memorial Hospital.
“I was scared when I saw the scars and seen how deep it was,” he said. “I had a towel around my head and used a lot of water to wash off as much blood as possible off my face.”
Muema-Washington said he was light-headed for three days. Soreness ensued, limiting his time with the football team. He did not practice or suit up for the Glendale game. He missed the next two games against Burroughs and Burbank and sat out most of the first half against Pasadena in the Turkey Tussle.
“It’s the middle of the season,” he recalled. “I didn’t expect this to throw me off so bad. I thought maybe I’d miss one or two games at the most. But missing all those games I thought I wouldn’t have the momentum leading to the playoffs. Against Pasadena I didn’t play either right away.”
Muema-Washington entered in the final minute of the first half against Pasadena. His first pass was a 26-yard completion that gave the Mustangs (8-4) some rhythm before the half ended. He came back in the third quarter and on Muir’s first drive capped an 18-play drive with a 1-yard touchdown run. He sealed the game for the Mustangs when he connected on a 44-yard pass to Kevon Seymour to secure a 14-6 win over Pasadena.
Muema-Washington has been on fire ever since. He passed for 220 yards and four touchdowns in a 39-7 win over No. 2 seed Santa Fe in the opening round of the CIF-Southern Section Southeast Division playoffs. He was at it again last week against Diamond Ranch with 182 yards and three touchdowns on 6-of-14 passing in the Mustangs’ 48-0 win.
It’s no coincidence Muema-Washington’s absence also marked a loss of swagger for Muir. The Mustangs appear to have gotten it back – and then some – with Muema-Washington’s return. The Muir faithful hope it continues on Friday night when it takes on La Serna in the Mustangs’ first semifinal appearance since 1999.
The game, scheduled for a 7:30 start, will be at California High in Whittier.
Muir coach Dave Mitchell knows how instrumental Muema-Washington’s success is for the team. His play, he said, has a domino effect.
“As Josh goes so goes our team,” Mitchell said the week leading up to Muir’s game against Diamond Ranch.
Muema-Washington connected on 59- and 63-yard touchdown passes to Tairen Owens and a 36-yard scoring pass to Seymour against the Panthers.
The Mustangs wanted to make a statement with the long passes on their first two plays of the game.
Leave it to Muema-Washington to deliver the knockout punch.
Conscious and all.