Turkey Tussle Between John Muir and Pasadena at Year 72: Nice ‘Trick or Treat’ at the Rose Bowl, Says Coach

Published : Thursday, October 31, 2019 | 4:33 AM

One of the best-known high school rivalries in Southern California sports takes center stage at the Rose Bowl tonight as the Mustangs of John Muir High School and the Bulldogs of Pasadena High School face off for the 72nd Turkey Tussle.

The Rose Bowl is not just for rock stars, but also champion athletes who play at America’s most revered stadium, and on Thursday, the teams from Muir and Pasadena High Schools will get their moment of gridiron glory.

Muir’s Mustangs stand 7-2 (4-1 Pacific League) and the Pasadena Bulldogs at 6-2 (3-2 Pacific League) going into the game. Both teams are raring to go in the Rose Bowl.

It’s the first Tussle for Muir High School alumnus and Head Coach Zaire Calvin, but it’s PHS Coach DeJuan Shamburger’s fourth.

Prior to the game, beloved former Pasadena High School football Coach Tom Hamilton will be honored with one of the Rose Bowl’s tunnels dedicated in his honor (see related story).

How have the teams prepared?

For Muir, which is seeking to extend its win streak in the rivalry, normal regular-season strategies get put aside, said first-year Mustangs Coach Zaire Calvin.

“Everything goes out the window when it comes to a rivalry game,” Calvin said. “You do everything necessary to win. With the tradition of this game, you play differently. You can’t take anything for granted. This is an emotional game.”

Pasadena Coach DeJuan Shamburger takes a different approach. He said his team’s game plan is still intact — regardless of the rivalry or not.

“We’re excited and looking forward to this,” said Shamburger. “We match up pretty good. We’re pretty balanced. Muir High School’s strength is their defense. We’re more balanced. Their quarterback is a scrambler, likes to get out of the pocket and throw the ball, our quarterback is more of a pocket passer. ”


‘Sense of Pride’ for the City of Pasadena

“It’s the 72nd year of that football game being played and the fact that it’s played at the Rose Bowl gives me a tremendous sense of pride,” said Rose Bowl Operating Company Board Member and City Councilmember Victor Gordo. “It transcends football, it’s a community celebration and a tradition we’re proud of as Pasadenans. Having the opportunity to play that game in junior and senior year is something I’m very proud of. I believe every student should try to be a part of this tradition.”

“To me, besides of course the tradition, the Turkey Tussle is a great Pasadena rivalry,” said Darryl Dunn, chief executive officer and general manager of the Rose Bowl Operating Company. “There’s tons of pride associated with the game. The fact that it’s at the Rose Bowl signifies the importance of the event and it’s a tradition we’re very proud of.”


John Muir High School: Coach Calvin Proud of Team’s character

Calvin said he’s proud of the team’s character.

“I think it’s the character of our kids in the program, they’re taking their education and overall character and what they want to accomplish.”

“We’ve had a hard schedule this year, we played three games in 12 days at one point, and they never stopped fighting,” Calvin said. “We’ve lost only two games and so has Pasadena. We’re evenly matched, except for the pride of us being Mustangs and them being Bulldogs.”

Calvin praised the whole team including quarterbacks Amaris Harrison and Eric Wallis. He said the only way the kids could drop the ball, so to speak, is if they’re not 100 percent.

“We control the destiny of what can or can’t happen,” he said. “Pasadena is fighting and clawing to prove themselves so that’s a dangerous opponent.”


Pasadena High School: Coach Shamburger Says ‘Come Support the City’

“This is a rivalry game that’s been going on for many years between John Muir and Pasadena,” Shamburger said. “Unfortunately they’ve had the bell longer than Pasadena High, but back in the ’80s and ’90s it was going back and forth. The last time we won was 2015. And it’s been a while, so we’re excited to get to this game and see the outcome.”

“They love to play in the Rose Bowl,” he said of the student-athletes at Pasadena High School. “That’s one of the things about going to Pasadena or John Muir, you get to play in the ‘granddaddy’ of all stadiums. It’s tradition. A lot of people have played in the Rose Bowl in this area and it’s something everybody looks forward to at the end of the season.”

Shamburger said the outcome can never be predicted.

“Come to the game and support the city,” he said. “It’s going to be a nice Halloween Trick or Treat.”

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