Pasadena, Muir Set for Turkey Tussle Saturday Morning at Rose Bowl; Fourth Place in Pacific League at Stake for Bulldogs, Mustangs

Published : Friday, October 26, 2018 | 5:51 AM

From Top Clockwise: Andreas Solling, Mekhi Fox, coach Dejuan Shamburger, coach Antyone Sims, Aryonis Harrison, and Brian Love

When longtime and crosstown rivals Pasadena and Muir battle Saturday morning at the Rose Bowl in the annual Turkey Tussle showdown, it will be the first time that both programs enter the game with a better than .500 record since the 2007 season.

Muir (6-3 overall, 3-3 in league) and Pasadena (5-4, 3-3) don’t have any guarantees that either program will earn an at-large bid, but both understand there are zero chances of a playoff appearance for the losing team Saturday.

And it’s not just the potential of earning one’s place in the CIF-SS playoffs that is at stake.

For those of us that didn’t attend PHS or Muir, especially for those who competed in the annual showdown, there is no way to accurately describe the importance of winning for the proud athletes and their coaches on both sides.

The winner of this game will not only have bragging rights for the next 365 days, they will finish one-game ahead of their rival in fourth place in the Pacific League.

Kickoff is set for 11 a.m.

It won’t be something the Pasadena side wants to hear or read about, but Muir has all but owned the Turkey Tussle over the last 20 years.

Other than a pair of victories in 2015 and 1995, and a tie in 1999, it has been all about the Mustangs’ football program.

Every season adds different faces and aspects to the contest, but for PHS, this 2018 squad is not only better than they’ve been in recent memory, they are much more confident.

The Bulldogs, through week nine in 2018, have won more (5) games than in 2016 and 2017 combined.

PHS was coming off consecutive season’s which they finished 2-8.

Pasadena has a confident quarterback named Andreas Solling.

The 6-foot-3 senior is starting his first Turkey Tussle game.

And for those that don’t know his remarkable story, the 17-year old PHS athlete knew as a young boy living in Denmark that he wanted to chase his dream of being a quarterback in America.

He was wise beyond his years and knew to reach the level he hoped to attain, no country would challenge him more than right here in the U.S.

So, at age 14, accompanied by his father, who used to work at Caltech, Solling moved to Pasadena and has lived with a legal guardian, and while his family currently resides in Saudi Arabia, the PHS quarterback uses modern technology to keep in touch daily with his parents and little brother.

Solling originally attended Blair, but saw their year end just a few weeks into his sophomore season because the Vikings were getting annihilated each week.

He transferred to PHS his junior year and was relegated to playing on the JV team.

In this, his first year as the starting quarterback for PHS, he has, along with his teammates and coaches, led the program to more success than the Bulldogs had seen since 2007.

Solling boasts a 60-percent completion ratio and has used his speedsters, Mekhi Fox and Jeremiah Hutchins, to much success.

Fox and Max Garrison at St. Francis make up what we consider to be the two best freshman in the area, and a pair of game changers that are gong to be fun to watch for the next three years.

Fox has scored almost every way possible, including receiving, rushing, kick off and punt return TD’s and it’s not just about the versatility that makes him special.

It’s the distance in multiple TD’s that separates the PHS star from almost everyone.

Malachi Langley had a huge effort in week nine.

The PHS running back gained 220 yards and a pair of TD’s.

Langley’s success on the ground will be imperative in a Bulldogs’ victory, not only to establish the rushing game, but also to help open up the Bulldogs’ aerial assault and to keep a very talented Muir offense on the sidelines as long as possible.

Ahmad Jolley, Frank Coleman, Nicholas Benson, Malachi Langley, Nathaniel Morris, Daniel Martinez and Austin Koslow have been key to the PHS defense in victories.

Muir’s season has been a bit of a roller coaster.

The Mustangs won games they should have, but more often than coach Antyone Sims would like, they couldn’t beat or close out games against the upper echelon programs within the Pacific League.

Both PHS and Muir dropped league contests to the top three (Arcadia, Burbank and CV), and their three victories came against the bottom three programs (Burroughs, Glendale & Hoover) in Pacific League play.

Muir has held opponents to almost half the points that the PHS defense has surrendered through the six league games, as well as the first nine games thus far in 2018.

As simplistic as it is to say, Muir quarterback Brian Love will most likely dictate whether the Mustangs leave the Rose Bowl happy or sad.

In victories this year, Love has been able to aid the running game by throwing the ball down field with accuracy and purpose, and most importantly, at his best, Love protects the ball well.

The Mustangs’ senior averages nearly 200 yards through the air and has a completion ratio of better than 60 percent.

Love has a trio of game-changing receivers to go to.

Caleb Snowden, Aryonis Harrison and Nick Moore have each used their speed and hands all year to their advantage, including their runs-after-catch ability.

Jahlique Stephens has been the Mustangs’ workhorse, but they also have solid depth at the running back position.

Chuck Shull, Aulonzo Bailey and Jordan Trice are just a few of the defensive standouts, and leading tacklers for Muir.

One important area to watch is to see which speedster on special teams, Muir’s Aryonis Harrison or PHS’ Mekhi Fox is able to give his team the advantage by having a bigger impact on the game.

Both PHS and Muir are more than ready, and they are anxious and excited to make their mark on this prestigious rivalry.

Administrators are encouraging fans to purchase what they are calling “express lane” tickets online at the link below.

There is a Pumpkin Festival nearby that is expecting some 10,000 people on Saturday morning, so arriving early is strongly advised.

Buy tickets at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/pasadena-2018-turkey-tussle-tickets-47118647142

Quotable:

Muir coach Antyone Sims: “I’ve been going to this game since I was 8. The kids understand what it means. It’s important every year for us to show we’re the program to beat. It’s the biggest game of the season. It’s Pasadena. PHS has some guys that want to be there. Before (this group at Pasadena), a lot of guys wanted to be at different schools and didn’t give all they could. But Coach Shamburger is doing a really good job there, and in my opinion, he doesn’t get the credit he deserves.

The kids have done well adjusting to game situations and sticking to the game plan. This senior class were freshman when I started coaching. We kicked some of the kids out of the program for making mistakes, but they learned from it, and we brought them back to help guide them in football, but also in life. And being a part of this program meant they experienced some traveling and many have taken their first trips on airplanes. We do everything together and that’s what makes this program special.”

Pasadena quarterback Andreas Solling: “I honestly can’t even explain how excited I am for the game on Saturday. This is what I’ve been dreaming about. To play in the Rose Bowl is a privilege and my teammates and I expect to walk on the field and make history. It’s more than just a game, it’s the reason I am here. We are all ready to play.

The history (or past) doesn’t really matter to us. We can’t change the past, and we’re just worried about winning this game and hopefully making the playoffs. We have to stay composed and do our jobs, and not worry about everyone else’s jobs. We’ll let Muir do all the talking. When we’re on that field, we need to stay disciplined in order to win. We need to do all the little things well to give us our best chance to leave the Rose Bowl as the winning program.”

Muir’s 2018 Schedule & Results:
August 17: Muir 35, Charter Oak 24
August 31: Muir 29, Stellar Prep 6
September 6: Muir 55, Rancho Christian 13
September 14: Crescenta Valley 31, Muir 7
September 21: Muir 67, Hoover 7
September 28: Muir 51, Glendale 0
October 5: Muir 36, Burroughs 0
October 13: Burbank 15, Muir 14
October 19: Arcadia 41, Muir 14
October 27: Muir vs Pasadena at Rose Bowl at 11 a.m.

Pasadena’s 2018 Schedule & Results:
August 17: San Marino 42, San Marino 7
August 24: Pasadena 14, Maranatha 12
August 31: Pasadena 30, Pioneer 28
September 7: Bye Week
September 14: Pasadena 48, Glendale 7
September 21: Crescenta Valley 47, Pasadena 28
September 28: Burbank 52, Pasadena 14
October 5: Pasadena 2, Hoover 0 (Forfeit)
October 12: Arcadia 38, Pasadena 14
October 19: Pasadena 35, Burroughs 32
October 27: Muir vs Pasadena at Rose Bowl at 11 a.m.

Turkey Tussle Scores Between 2008-2017:
2017: Muir 33, Pasadena 21
2016: Muir 18, Pasadena 6
2015: Pasadena 13, Muir 6
2014: Muir 24, Pasadena 17
2013: Muir 32, Pasadena 21
2012: Muir 37, Pasadena 7
2011: Muir 14, Pasadena 6
2010: Muir 63, Pasadena 6
2009: Muir 34, Pasadena 12
2008: Muir 13, Pasadena 0

By the Numbers:

Combined Records of teams PHS & Muir defeated in 2018:
Muir: 13-37
PHS: 16-29

Combined Records of teams PHS & Muir lost to:
Muir: 21-7
PHS: 28-7

Points scored in 2018:
Muir: 308
PHS: 192
** PHS was awarded a 2-0 victory in the forfeit by Hoover, so they didn’t have the chance to rack up blowout stats. Muir crushed the Tornadoes, 67-7, back on September 2

Points allowed:
Muir:137
PHS: 258

Point differential in losses to Arcadia, Crescenta Valley & Burbank:
Muir: 35-87
PHS: 56-137

Highest scoring game in a victory:
Muir: 67 vs. Hoover
PHS: 48 vs. Glendale

Most points allowed in a loss:
Muir: 41 vs. Arcadia
PHS: 52 vs. Burbank