TURKEY TUSSLE: Kylon Fleming fills void for Bulldogs

Pasadena High School’s Kylon Fleming leads the Bulldogs against Muir in Thursday’s Turkey Tussle at the Rose Bowl. (Walt Mancini / Staff Photographer)

By Keith Lair, SGVN
Twitter.com/KeithLLair

PASADENA - The big man on campus was not supposed to be the running back.
Pasadena High School’s 2012 season was supposed to revolve around the quarterback.
And why not? Brandon Cox can pass the ball with the best players in Southern California. He is as fast as some of his fellow running backs and receivers and he had the experience of two full seasons as the starter for the Bulldogs.
Pasadena head coach Randy Horton envisioned the Bulldogs making a deep CIF-Southern Section playoff run behind the play of Cox.
But Cox, who recently decided to verbally commit to a scholarship offer to play at Utah instead of Arizona, suffered a stress fracture to his foot in the second week of the season. He has not played since.
Running back Kylon Fleming, who was supposed to be just a small piece in the Pasadena offensive machine, suddenly was one of the Bulldogs’ focal points.
“It was a big adjustment for all of us,” Horton said of the loss of Cox. “I definitely now know how an NFL (coach) feels when they lose their starting quarterback. WThe Bulldogs (1-8) head into tonight’s Turkey Tussle against crosstown rival Muir with a five-game losing streak. Pasadena defeated Glendale, 35-0, in its Pacific League opener. The Bulldogs have not beaten the Mustangs since 1995 before some of the current players were born. Muir will be the outright league champion with a victory.
“It has been tough,” said Fleming, a 6-foot-3 senior. “We’ve had our ups and downs.
“It was hard at the beginning, but we have stayed together as a team. We weren’t together at first, but we have come together as a team.
“We haven’t given up yet.”
Fleming did not play much in previous seasons because of school work, but Horton said Fleming’s work ethic in the classroom and on the football field have made him the big man on campus.
He has rushed for approximately 700 yards and nine touchdowns this season, including an 82-yarder against Crescenta Valley. He broke off a 79-yarder and had 168 yards in only six carries in the win against Glendale and then broke off a 70-yarder against Burroughs last week.
“It’s been pretty good running the football,” Fleming said. “When my blockers block, it’s all when we lost Brandon, we lost a lot of things we were able to do with him.”

Fleming, who played very little football during his sophomore and junior seasons, suddenly emerged as option No. 1.
“It did make a difference,” Horton said. “Because Brandon was the No 1 focus and option, it would have helped Kylon out to be better. But once Brandon went down the focus shifted and he had to carry the load. He’s done a pretty good job for us.”
The Bulldogs (1-8) head into tonight’s Turkey Tussle against crosstown rival Muir with a five-game losing streak. Pasadena defeated Glendale, 35-0, in its Pacific League opener. The Bulldogs have not beaten the Mustangs since 1995 before some of the current players were born. Muir will be the outright league champion with a victory.
“It has been tough,” said Fleming, a 6-foot-3 senior. “We’ve had our ups and downs.
“It was hard at the beginning, but we have stayed together as a team. We weren’t together at first, but we have come together as a team.
“We haven’t given up yet.”
Fleming did not play much in previous seasons because of school work, but Horton said Fleming’s work ethic in the classroom and on the football field have made him the big man on campus.
He has rushed for approximately 700 yards and nine touchdowns this season, including an 82-yarder against Crescenta Valley. He broke off a 79-yarder and had 168 yards in only six carries in the win against Glendale and then broke off a 70-yarder against Burroughs last week.
“It’s been pretty good running the football,” Fleming said. “When my blockers block, it’s all good.”
Fleming hopes to continue playing next year at a community college.
“On any given moment, he can break off a run,” Horton said. “One missed tackle and he’s off to the races.
“He’s meant a lot to us. It’s his first year of playing and I wish he had played early on in his career. But he’s gotten everything right now. He has a lot of God-given ability. He’s fast; he’s strong. He does not even know how good he is yet.”
Fleming said that, like his teammates, he knows all of the players at Muir.
“I have hated Muir since I was young,” he said. “All of my family went to PHS. I know their whole team, but there is no friends in football. They are my worst enemy when we’re playing them. We have to bring that bell back home.”
A perfect game, Fleming said, would end that long losing streak and send the Bell back to the east side of Pasadena.

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