TAKING THE REINS: Muir High School quarterback Joshua Muema threw for 1,357 yards and nearly 30 touchdowns last season, but he s often been overlooked. Staff photo by Sarah Reingewirtz
This might be the year of the quarterback in the West San Gabriel Valley, with such signal-callers as St. Francis’ Jared Lebowitz, Monrovia’s Blake Heyworth and Pasadena’s Brandon Cox all ready for great seasons.
Muir has it’s own star behind center in Joshua Muema, who will be a key for the Mustangs’ quest for a Pacific League title and another deep CIF-Southern Section playoff run.
By Keith Lair, SGVN
PASADENA - Keyvon Seymour has gone on to USC. Darick Holmes Jr. has transferred to another school.
Now is the time for the other players to step up for Muir High School, quarterback Joshua Muema said.
“This year we’re going to have to win as a team,” Muema said. “Especially this year. We do not have a kid like (Seymour) that I can throw the ball for five yards and he’s going to run 80. It’s more of a mental game right now.”
Muema, who has decided to shorten his name from Muema-Washington, which he used last season, is one of those players who will need to produce if the Mustangs can return to dominance in the Pacific League.
“If we don’t have the superstar guy who can beat 11 guys, then we have to have 11 guys do their job to be successful,” first-year coach John Hardy Jr. said.
Muir is well-known for its running backs and defensive players. But for one of the few times in recent history the Mustangs may have their best player at quarterback. Hardy said Muema has been constantly overlooked.
“If you go to our passing league games and tournaments, all the coaches ask who the heck is our quarterback?” Hardy said. “He doesn’t get the publicity. He’s played against (Pasadena’s) Brandon Cox all the way through Pop Warner and when he gets up against Brandon, he out-does him. He’s as good as the kid at Maranatha (Andrew Elffers) and St. Francis (Jared Lebowitz).
“Our guy can stand up with any of these guys.”
Muema is being recruited by New Mexico State and Colorado.
Last year, Muema passed for 1,357 yards and nearly 30 touchdowns. Muir got off to a slow start but won six of its last eight games to reach the semifinals of the CIF-Southern Section Southeast Division playoffs.
The Mustangs lost to La Serna 28-3 in the semifinals, and the 6-foot-3 senior said he is surprised by how much he has learned.
“I feel so much better just because there were a lot of things I didn’t know last year that I’ve picked up this year,” he said. “I feel a lot better. I understand being in the pocket and coverage. I’m able to read the defenses a lot better.
“It was surprising from last year. I feel a little bit better in the pocket. I am not in such of a rush to get the ball out of my hands.”
Those reads could help the Mustangs in three tough preleague road games, starting with Friday at Upland. The Mustangs also play Alemany and Rancho Cucamonga.
“But as long as we come out and play Mustang football, I don’t know what the problem will be,” Muema said.
The loss of players like Seymour and Holmes has had Hardy alter the offense to a little less of a spread into more of a mix, which will include a lot of inside passes.
Hardy was the Mustangs’ defensive coordinator last season but has made a big impact on the offense. Hardy has coached Muema since he first picked up a football, beginning at quarterback when he was 8 in the Pasadena Panthers’ Junior Pee Wee program.
“He’s developed tremendously on learning the game of football,” Hardy said. “In Junior Pee Wee’s, we had 75 plays and he knew all 75 plays. He’s a smart guy, but he’s still learning the concept of football.
“He’s getting better at it, but he’s not there yet.”
Muema has always played quarterback, even when his older brother, Adam, tried to convince him to move to running back. Adam plays at San Diego State.
“My brother talks to me all the time,” Muema said. “He tells me to get out and throw the ball and work hard.”